Bitcoin Bear Market Is Scaring Off Institutional Investors, Claims JPMorgan

Samantha Chang @Samantha_Chang
December 18, 2018 16:54 UTC

Institutional investors are being scared off by the protracted crypto bear market. That’s the assessment of a team of JPMorgan Chase & Co. analysts, including global market strategist Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou.

“Participation by financial institutions in Bitcoin trading appears to be fading,” the JPMorgan team wrote in a December 14 research note.

“Key flow metrics have downshifted dramatically.”

Panigirtzoglou says crypto trading volumes have plummeted, as has interest in bitcoin futures. This has spawned a crushing fallout across the entire market, he observed.

JPM: Altcoins Are Getting Crushed

“Other cryptocurrencies continue to suffer disproportionately during this correction phase,” according to the JPM note.

Moreover, JPMorgan says the Crypto Winter has caused mass attrition among unprofitable miners as the hashrate has continued to unravel during the past few months.

“This suggests that prices have declined to a point where mining is becoming uneconomical for some miners, who have responded by turning their mining rigs off,”

JPMorgan’s Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou claims institutional players are ditching bitcoin. (Image: CNBC)

Meanwhile, market insiders say a myopic focus on mining costs makes analysts lose sight of the big picture.

Barry Silbert, the founder of crypto investment fund Digital Currency Group, said mining costs are not the proper benchmark with which to value the asset class.

“You have to separate the investment decision that a miner is making from the operating cost for them to mine the bitcoin,”

Silbert said.

Silbert continued claiming crypto mining operations have a long-term focus; they’re not thinking about short-term gains.

“The mining businesses that have been created over the past five years have accumulated massive amounts of capital. They have the ability to continue mining at a loss [because they’re going long].”

JPMorgan’s Crypto Hatred Starts At the Top

JPMorgan’s skepticism toward bitcoin is not new, and it comes straight from the top. The investment bank’s CEO, Jamie Dimon, openly hates bitcoin and has often bashed it as “a fraud.”

In October 2018, Dimon — who has repeatedly promised to stop talking about bitcoin — again reiterated that he despises it, but gave props to blockchain, saying it’s a legit innovation.

“I don’t really give a sh*t [about bitcoin],” Dimon said. “Blockchain is real, it’s technology, but bitcoin is not the same as a fiat currency.”

In September 2017, Dimon vowed to fire any JPMorgan trader engaging in bitcoin activity. “I’d fire them in a second,” he said.

While Jamie Dimon continues to protest too much about bitcoin, other investment bankers have a less emotional outlook.

As CCN reported, Allianz chief economist Mohamed El-Erian said bitcoin will survive the current market sell-off because it’s here to stay. However, he doesn’t believe cryptocurrencies will replace fiat money anytime soon.

Crypto Evangelists: 2019 Will Be Epic

Meanwhile, the virtual currency industry is bracing for a milestone year in 2019 in anticipation of a surge in institutional investments.

Galaxy Digital founder Mike Novogratz, a former partner at Goldman Sachs, said he expects bitcoin prices to clear new highs in 2019.

As for critics who are mocking bitcoiners over their current market woes, Novogratz quipped: “Revolutions don’t happen overnight.”

Last modified: December 18, 2018 17:25 UTC

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Samantha Chang @Samantha_Chang

Samantha Chang is a New York City-based financial editor who writes about crypto and business at . She is a law school grad and an alum of the University of Pennsylvania. You can reach her on Twitter at Samantha Chang or email her at schang121@juno.com.