Almost six months after bitcoin’s price reached its all-time high and roughly ten months after its 2021 low of $28,500, people still argue about whether crypto is in a bull or bear market.
What do those terms mean for an asset whose price goes up 100-300% in bear markets and crashes 30-50% in bull markets?
From the start of 2019 until the end, bitcoin’s price went up 120% and seemingly everybody called it a bear market.
Some people say our most recent crypto bull market started in December 2020, with the first new all-time high since 2017—after the price had already gone up 600% in less than two years.
Now, you hear some people claim April 2021 was the peak of the cycle and all of the more recent higher-highs were part of a dead-cat bounce.
In other words, they think we had a nearly three-year bear market followed by a five-month bull market and now we’re one year into a bear market that’s already seen two new all-time highs.
If the shoe fits . . .
Fitting, though, for a market as crazy as this one.
With crypto, you get 100% pumps in the middle of raging bear markets and 50% drops in the middle of massive uptrends. 25% upswings and downswings are normal—sometimes barely noticeable on a price chart.
Check out all of the big swings. They happen in bull and bear markets alike—and that’s before we include the longer MOON FOMO LAMBO upswings that probably brought you into crypto.
After November’s all-time high, bitcoin’s price spent two months going down, then three months going up. Its price is still higher now than three months ago, something we’ve never seen in any previous bitcoin bear market.
Can you have a bear market where prices spend more time in an uptrend than a downtrend?
What about percentages? In September 2020, many altcoins dropped 50-80%. Likewise in January 2021. Both times, in the middle of a massive bull run.
When those drawdowns happen in the middle of a raging bull market, you call them corrections. One or two months later, back to zooming.
Today, you call them bear markets. Same drops but the zooms take a lot longer.
Suffice to say, we haven’t seen anything that looks like a classic bottom on a trading chart, nor clear signals in on-chain data or activities in the derivatives markets.
Then again, last year we didn’t see anything that looked like a classic top on a trading chart, nor clear signals in on-chain data or activities in the derivatives markets.
Prices seemingly went up a lot, then went down a lot, then up a lot, then down a lot.
What happens if bitcoin’s price goes to $50,000 before it drops to $35,000 in a massive liquidation event? Does that count as “the bottom” or another “higher low” since January’s $33,000 nadir?
Mark, stop beating around the bush, is the bottom in or not?
I’m not beating around the bush. Maybe there is no bottom or top.
What if this market is destined to go up and down forever?
What about April 2021, October 2021, and November 2021? Peaks, right?
What about June 2021, January 2022, and whatever crash we’re about to get? Bottoms, right?
That’s a cop-out. You just don’t want to be wrong.
Nah. How can anybody be right or wrong about something that hasn’t happened yet?
Once you get into right and wrong, you miss the point. Too many people get psyched out with “bull” and “bear” markets. Take the market as it comes and make the best decisions you can. Bitcoin will decide who’s right or wrong.
Maybe it’s ok to appreciate the larger trends and dynamics around you, without forcing labels onto them?
Of course, at some point, you have to put a label on things. Otherwise, nobody will understand what you’re talking about.
Just let’s not make the label matter more than the intent.
Bull market or bear market, this market gives you all sorts of opportunities, often when you least expect it.
Since the summer of 2021, this market has gathered itself for the next leg up. We saw clear, textbook consolidation among market participants even as bitcoin’s price doubled from its June low of $28,500.
In November and December, we shed some institutions and summer tourists. In December and January, we shed some whales and leveraged traders. In February, we shed defensive profit-takers as institutions trickled back in, some buyers re-entered, and diamond hands gobbled up whatever remained.
Now, miners have started to ship off bitcoin in clumps and we see spikes of selling from different corners of the market, but not broadly. Meanwhile, we see buying and accumulation across the board, but not in large enough volume to show up in any of the data I look at.
Bull market or bear market?
Maybe it doesn’t matter.
Mark Helfman publishes the Crypto is Easy newsletter. He is also the author of three books and a top bitcoin writer on Medium and Hacker Noon. Learn more about him in his bio.
Originally published in Cryptowriter.