Bitcoin Spikes Below $10000. What's Next? :: Elliott Wave ...

Elliott Wave analyst's thoughts on Bitcoin

(NB: typos mine; crappy OCR software. If anyone wants to see the Eliott Wave he's discussing and I'll make it available.)
Bitcoin Bubble or Bitcoin Breakthrough? How about both?
by Elliott Prechter
December 20, 2013 in the Elliott Wave Theorist
EWT discussed Bitcoin for the first time in August 2010, when the currency traded at six cents. As far as we know, EWI was the first financial publisher to discuss it. Bitcoin was unknown to the general public and off private investors’ radar. Even the earliest adopters did not take it as seriously as they should have. The most notable example of this is the man who paid 10,000 BTC for a pizza. This pizza purchase is now famous (https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=l37.0), and many continue to track its price in USD terms via the “Bitcoin Pizza Index," which recently hit an all-time high of over S12 million.
Fast forward to today, and the currency is regularly featured in financial news and social media. Bitcoin Magazine has become popular, Congress is holding hearings on the currency, Germany has defined its role in finance, China is ruling on its legality, and the business world is adopting it. The most prominent business to embrace Bitcoin is Virgin Galactic, one of the many creations of billionaire Richard Branson (http://www.cnbc.com/id/101220710).
EWT readers were prepared for all this. When Bitcoin was still in the shadows, the August 2012 issue said,
Presuming bitcoin succeeds as the world’s best currency-and I believe it will-it should rise many more multiples in value over the years. -EWT, August 2012
The big question on the minds of investors is not what Bitcoin has achieved, but should they buy Bitcoins now? It’s amusing that so many people ignored Bitcoin upon hearing about it in 20 1 0, but now that its price has gone up 20,000 times, they want to invest. Notwithstanding the currency’s potential, this shift in attitude is a signal saying now is not the time to buy. Let’s look at four areas of evidence:
1) Optimism is off the charts. Past issues of The Elliott Wave Financial Forecast discussed people selling their homes and borrowing money to invest in Bitcoins. That was near the peak of wave Now the desire to buy has grown even more extreme. Bloggers are calling for Bitcoin to reach S1 million. . .soon. One young investor borrowed a million dollars from his father and without his knowledge invested it in Bitcoin (https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=359228.0). The other day I walked into a convenience store wearing a Bitcoin T-shirt, and the owner asked me if he should invest now. I felt like I was living in 1929.
2) Investors have recently been rushing to buy a rash of 95 (at last count; see https://bitcointalk. org/index.php?topic=l34179.0) new clones of Bitcoin that have recently emerged: Litecoin, Namecoin, Zerocoin, BBQCoin, PPcoin, PrimeCoin, NovaCoin, FeatherCoin, TerraCoin, Devcoin, Megacoin, Mincoin, DigitalCoin, Anoncoin, Worldcoin, Freicoin, IxCoin... and more. (That they are clones is obvious from the lack of imagination in naming.) This rush of clones is reminiscent of the South Sea bubble of 1720 and the dot-com mania of 1999, when shares of zero-profit, copycat companies (and even fake ones) sold like hotcakes. Virtually every week now, the Bitcoin code is forked into a new coin that investors bid up. lt’s as if buyers feel the world will run out of cryptocurrency, which in fact is infinitely and freely duplicable.
3) The Elliott wave pattern from Bitcoin’s inception shows five waves up. The December ll Short Term Update noted that a major top was potentially in place: The peak [in Bitcoin] came 10 days after U.S. officials, ranging from an assistant attorney general with the Department of Justice to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, “spoke approvingly of the potential of virtual currencies." So, here again, the government is getting on board at the very tail end ofa long rise. Since we posted that comment, Bitcoin has fallen an additional 40%, bringing it down nearly 60% from its all-time high.
Will this prove to be just another brief, sharp correction or something larger? Take a look at the completed impulse pattern shown in Figure 3. The structure begins very near the inception of the currency three-plus years ago, when it was selling for a penny. Notice that wave @ is a triangle (see text, p.49), which typically comes in the fourth-wave position. Wave a thrust, carried to the all-time high of S 1242 on November 29. The reversal from that point should mark the start of the largest bear market to date in the currency. This forecast is in tune with the anticipated bear market in the broader stock averages, which have strongly correlated with Bitcoin’s pattern.
The chart is in log scale to show the returns one would have achieved in each impulse leg of the pattern. Wave Q) achieved a stunning 3 19ox gain. Wave ® achieved 59.3% (a Fibonacci 3/5) of the gain of wave Q). Wave ® (measured from the low of wave @) achieved 39.3% (a Fibonacci 2/5) of the gain of wave (D and 66.3% (a Fibonacci 2/3) of the gain of wave Therefore, while each upward move has been large, each successive wave has been decelerating in log terms relative to past waves, in each case by a Fibonacci multiple. Also notice that Bitcoin trades more like a commodity than a stock, with its blow-off tops and extended fifih waves. Most of the gain since early 20 12 has been within (5) of ® and the final wave all of which is probable retracement territory.
4) Most people involved in this mania seem oblivious to Bitcoin’s fundamentals. In my experience, raising these issues publicly earns scorn for spreading “FUD.” But there is a good reason-now widely ignored-that Bitcoin is beta software. Our August 2010 piece explained how Bitcoin operates, but it’s worth revisiting some details to understand just how out-of-touch investor expectations are with the reality of Bitcoin technology. Specifically, let's examine the limitations of Bitcoin’s blockchain.
The blockchain is the heart of Bitcoin. In its simplest form, the blockchain is a public ledger of all transactions that happen in the Bitcoin network. Each block is composed of individual records that track the ownership of each coin. The transactions “fit” together cryptographically. A block is created about once every 10 minutes by the network. Each block is then cryptographically linked to the previous blocks in the chain, forming a history of all transactions that-to Bitcoin’s credit-cannot be forged. To the extent that Bitcoin currency is real, it could be said that the blockchain is the Bitcoin currency.
Yet the core problem with the blockchain is that it grows over time and must be shared by every fiill Bitcoin node. Today it is nearing 13 GB in size. Now, 13 GB doesn't sound too large, but at the current rates of exponential growth the blockchain is projected to become over a terabyte in size in just three years. What's more, the amount of accompanying data required to handle just a fraction of Visa-level traffic would overwhelm even the fastest Internet connections. This technical hurdle makes the “Bitcoin is going to a million” commentary seem premature.
The hope for Bitcoin’s future lies in its open-source nature, allowing it to be improved, and Moore’s Law. Moore’s Law is colloquially used to signify the exponential increases in computer-hardware efficiency over time, including network capacity. But Moore’s law-which calls for a doubling of computer speed every two years-has hit a snag in recent years: the rate of improvement in performance has dramatically slowed, causing many experts to call for the end of the operation of Moore’s law. (For the record, Moore’s Law was never intended to refer to computer hardware performance, but the media have confused the term to the point where it is now generally used in this context. Originally, it was intended to refer to the increase in the number of transistors that are packed into microchips.)
The past four years have been an exciting ride for Bitcoin. But the evidence says the Bitcoin bull market is done for now. It would be best to put Bitcoin out of your mind for the duration of the deflationary wave that is curling toward the financial world. Due to the psychology surrounding Bitcoin, as well as its correlation with the stock indices, it is too risky to buy now. Due to its open-source nature, however, Bitcoin’s infrastructure should continue to improve over the years.
For the long run, I agree with Roger Ver, the CEO of memory dealers and one of Bitcoin’s earliest adopters, who recently said, “It is just getting started." But one could have said that about the U.S. stock market in 1966. It would have been visionary only if you were patient and willing to hold through a very deep valley. Our position is that Bitcoin will never again sell for 6 cents, as it did when EWT first wrote it up. But there will be another time to buy it for relative peanuts alongside stocks, real-estate, gold and silver. When the time comes, no one will be interested.
Elliott Prechter's primary task at EWI is working on EWA VES, our in-house artificial intelligence softwarefor analyzing Elliott waves.
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