It’s been a while since bitcoin’s value wasn’t at an all-time high, but even for the surging cryptocurrency this past week has seen incredible gains. As of this writing, the value of a single bitcoin is about $1,820 of hard U.S. currency. That represents an amazing 18 percent growth since passing $1,500 just a week ago.
The value seems to still be rising for the same reasons it passed last week’s threshold: a gradual loosening of regulations in several countries, most notably Japan, allowing for wider use and thus greater investor confidence.
Why Bitcoin’s Value is Rising
Some analysts also believe uncertainty in Europe surrounding the French elections may be driving the price upward. Buying a bunch of one currency (bitcoin) is often a way to avoid radical price drops in another (the Euro). This is leading many to wonder whether this incredible spike in value is the beginning of another bitcoin bubble, which will burst just as soon as people stop feeling that the blockchain is safer than the bank.
High-profile cryptocurrency investor Jacob Eliosoff tells Inverse that he definitely thinks we’re seeing the effects of a bubble, and that a crash is likely near. “When the air lets out, not only will the bad coins crash to earth,” he writes, “but I expect the good ones to plummet too, before recovering over months or years.”
“But fundamentally any bubble, like a fire, takes on a life of its own,” Eliosoff says. “People seeing other people make easy fast money and trying to do the same, and that’s what we have here.”
Still, the air was supposed to start letting out of bitcoin around when France chose to elect its economically moderate candidate, French President-Elect Emmanuel Macron. This was supposed to calm investors and slow their shoveling of money into bitcoin. Instead, the four days since the French election have seen some of the most rapid growth in the currency’s history.
It could be that the election did not sufficiently calm fears about the global financial situation, or that investors are now simply along for the ride, and will sell once this current growth eventually peaks. If it’s the latter, then the bubble could be very extreme.
This seems to be the situation for just about every other cryptocurrency, too. Bitcoin is still the standard-bearer for all cryptocurrencies, however, so anyone looking to invest in cryptobucks while still avoiding volatility will probably choose to steer clear of something called Litecoin or Dogecoin. Doge, in particular, has more than quintupled in value so far this year, and it’s considered ripe for a bust any day now. The dogetipbot is already dead.
In the end, the only thing that will ensure any cryptocurrency retains its value is to create a real economy for it. Online crime won’t do, since it’s volatile and prone to collapse by its very nature. That’s why many in the bitcoin community were so disappointed by a recent SEC decision to deny approval of a bitcoin-based investment fund that would have greatly increased its standing as a real, traded currency.
Eliosoff said cryptocurrencies in general are in too uncertain a place to become a central part of anyone’s investments: “It’s an important new asset class and a worthy (small) addition to any retirement portfolio — but not at current prices.”Photos via Flickr / zcopley