Note: Soon to come is a separate blog for Digital Assets where I will continue to write, curate and publish these types of articles, reports and reviews relating to the Digital Asset Class, FinTech, Blockchain, Smart Contracts, CryptoCurrency and Markets. Duane M. Tilden, P.Eng; April 12, 2018.
Working on technical analysis of cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, we search for causes and effects to understand what makes markets move or prices to change. This is quite similar to how we may view the stock or commodity markets and a lot can be gained from techniques used by stock analysts and traders. Knowing how much of a commodity one can purchase for a given price is often vital to budgeting, whether it’s for a construction project, a dinner, or some other financial endeavour. If I cannot purchase enough of one product for a particular price then I must either raise more capital, or purchase an inferior product that may meet the specification or recipe, if one is available that can achieve the desired outcome.
Observing trends on charts and graphs is part of the toolbox where changes in pricing, volume or other parameters are graphed over time. We search for short, medium and long term trends. When something happens in a marketplace we assume there is a reason and look for relationships so that we can further understand market influences on pricing. Down to a basic level we seek “if this, then that”. This is the basis of supply demand economics.
Thursday, April 12th 2018 we saw that the price of Bitcoin went from trading at about $6800 to $7800 USD overnight, an increase of about 15%. An excellent opportunity to investigate what is the cause of this change in price and subsequent effects in the cryptocurrency market. How does this event distinguish itself from other price changes we often read or hear about regarding Bitcoin? If you wish to know more, read on.
Market Cap and Total Market Capitalization
Prior to the advent of cryptocurrency markets Market Capitalization is used in the financial world to define the size of a company by multiplying the current stock price by the number of outstanding shares to determine the size of a company. Currently the usage of Market Capitalization and Total Market Capitalization are applied also to the issues of Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, Tron, Lisk, Minex, Dash, EOS and a multitude more. Every month new coins and tokens are emerging with whitepapers, websites, and ICO offerings.
Simply put, the Total Market Capitalization (TMC) is the sum of all the cryptocurrencies Market Caps (MC) listed and traded on the polled markets. It is important to remember this basic concept regarding markets in that there are events in the world which may cause change in attitudes or availability of capital, and movements of capital in or out of the market are reflected in the Total Market Cap. As this value moves so does money in and out of the markets.
Figure 1. Total Market Capitalization of Listed Cryptocurrencies, April 28 2013 to April 12 2018
Figure 2. Total Market Capitalization of Listed Cryptocurrencies, April 5 2018 to April 12 2018
Figure 3. Bitcoin $1000 (15%) One Hour Price Increase on Coinbase on April 12th, 2018.
Examining the forgoing graph on Figure 1 we can see how most of the TMC has been raised in the last 12 months. The TMC peaked on Sunday, January 7th 2018 with a value of $813.87 billion, and has a current value (April 13th, 2018) of $301.79 billion. Note that when we examine Figure 2 and the weekly chart of TMC we see a decided jump in value from around $275 billion to the current $300 billion, indicating $25 billion was introduced into the cryptocurrency market in less than a day.
Figure 4. Historical Dominance Chart – Percentage of TMC by Cryptocurrency
In Figure 3, this influx of capital into the market was reflected in the rapid increase in the price of Bitcoin, which has the highest trade volume on all markets and is dominant in the cryptocurrency market as seen in Figure 4. Coinbase price for Bitcoin shot up from $6856 to $8011 in about one hour, marking a jump in value of $1155 or 16.8%.
Almost all other cryptocurrencies followed suit and prices increased across the board as the previously tight bear market flooded with new capital. Sell orders were triggered as the prices rose rapidly and traders had new capital to reinvest into the market, resulting in further increases in alt coin prices.
Markets and Events
So we have clear evidence that a surge or influx of capital has entered the market. Now the questions that remain in our analysis of this significant event or change in the market are threefold; 1. What happened? 2. Who is making the trades? 3. On what markets?
1. What Happened?
One potential cause for this change in TMC is the entrance of new money or players in the market. A study released on April 10th regarding the compliance of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies meeting Islamic law relating to money and usury concluded by one Islamic scholar to be halal, or meeting strict Islamic requirements. For cryptocurrency holders this is important news as it opens markets to a significant sized population of potential users and investors.
JAKARTA, Indonesia. – April 10, 2018 – As fluctuations and volatility continue to rock the cryptocurrency world, Blossom Finance has commissioned and released a working paper exploring the Islamic permissibility of bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and blockchain. The paper concludes that Bitcoin fully meets the definition of Islamic money under certain conditions and is generally permissible under Shariah. Blossom’s research also includes analysis of various legal opinions (fatawah) issued by prominent Islamic scholars on the topic. The research and development of the working paper was led by Mufti Muhammad Abu Bakar – Blossom’s internal Shariah advisor and Shariah compliance officer.
2. Who is Trading and Why?
Let’s examine another report on this recent price spike to see if there is a correlation on what occurred on April 12th.
Bitcoin, the most dominant cryptocurrency in the global market, recorded a 15.94 percent increase in value, from $6,900 to $8,000. The price of the cryptocurrency rose by $1,100 within a 30-minute window, as massive buy volumes emerged. […]
To influence the price of bitcoin, which has a daily trading volume of above $9 billion, billions of dollars would have to be traded. More importantly, billions of dollars worth of new capital have to flow into the cryptocurrency market in order for the price of bitcoin to spike up, and bring the entire market with it.
The April 12 surge in the price of bitcoin was not caused by investors cashing out from alternative cryptocurrencies (altcoins) to bitcoin or reallocating their funds from other major cryptocurrencies to bitcoin, because the valuation of the cryptocurrency market increased by more than $20 billion.
A wave of new investors or potentially a few institutional investors likely allocated billions of dollars into the market in a short period of time, causing a short-term pump and leading the price of the cryptocurrency to surge.
It is virtually impossible to pinpoint a single factor to justify the price trend of any cryptocurrency, because a variety of factors can contribute to the momentum of a cryptocurrency.
As we see from this article on CCN they report on the price surge however dismiss the ability to determine the cause of this price movement as “virtually impossible”. While this may be the case when examining the price movement of individual coins, it is different when the whole market moves in unison. When this occurs we seek further explanation to determine whether this movement is a short term spike, or if the market has moved up to another level. For hodlers an increase in TMC to a higher level is good news, although it depends if investment is of a centralized holder or a widely dispersed or decentralized population.
There is a potential of overlooking causes in the market or performing a superficial analysis if we do not include the TMC in our study. One market analyst attributes to the surge in Bitcoin price to other factors such as short positions as follows;
Brian Kelly, CNBC contributor and head of BKCM, which runs a digital assets strategy for clients said: ”Once bitcoin broke higher, shorts were squeezed and forced to cover.”
“The ratio of short margin trades versus longs has been increasing recently,” said Nick Kirk, quantitative developer and data scientist at Cypher Capital, a cryptocurrency trading firm. “Buying volume ticked up today and a lot of these short trades got liquidated, helping fuel the rally.”
Others relate the price surge to relief of upcoming tax filing deadlines compounded by short positions;
Some market participants believe that Thursday’s sudden upward price move “could be an unwinding of that (tax-related) pressure,” and the spike had a compounding effect as it “forced traders who had bet against the cryptocurrency to buy back into the market,” reports CNBC.
These analysis overlooks the overall increase of $25 billion to the TMC or the rally in the rest of the market. If the connection between the price rises and increase in TMC is being caused by a new population of investors representing 1.6 billion people, then this is a likely indication of more to come in the future and we are seeing the first wave of new capital enter markets.
3. On What Markets are They Trading?
Where these trades are being made is a more difficult task requiring some deeper digging into available data. If we find that all of the capital is coming into the market on only a few or one exchange then that would be indicative of a centralized actor in the market, while if we see more evenly traded entry across a number of markets this may indicate a wider dispersed population. At this time we have no information if any abnormal trading occurred on any market on April 12th except for an overall increase in volume. Deeper analysis is beyond the scope of this report, and I will leave it as an exercise for the interested reader.
Exploring the historical data records on CoinMarketCap it is revealed that the 24 hour trading volume went from $4,641,890,000 on April 11th to $8,906,250,000 on April 12th. Clearly the increase in trading volume of $4.3 billion is not the TMC of $25 billion, and we look also at the price increase to get an indication of the increase in MC. From the same data chart we read that MC increased from $118,048,000,000 to $134,114,000,000 for a total of $16.1 billion which would be a dominance factor of 0.64 on the increase of $25 billion TMC. Currently the Bitcoin dominance factor is at about 0.40 and has been rising.
The forgoing analysis is not an exact science and as we can see relationships are not always inelastic. For example the increase in the TMC of $25 billion cannot be accounted for by the increase in Bitcoin trading volume of $4.3 billion divided by the Dominance Factor of 0.4 which would predict an increase in Total Trading Volume of $10.75 billion. This would indicate that there is a multiplier effect on invested capital to TMC. Also, capital is constantly flowing in and out of the markets and may change hands many times in one day. All of these and others unexamined factors may affect the TMC.
Events in this world form links in a causal chain, and often to manage best our resources information on relationships between various factors are important to understand when forming investing strategies or making budget decisions. Analysts provide qualified opinions on trends, and predictive market analysis is an important and valuable tool in decision making. Understanding fundamental market economics is essential to understanding cryptocurrency markets.
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