The tail end of 2017 represented the height of Bitcoin-mania. References to the virtual currency were everywhere, and the meme HODL (short for holding in the Bitcoin community) became almost as ubiquitous as FANG — short for Action Alerts PLUS holding Facebook (FB) , Trifecta Stocks name Amazon (AMZN) , Netflix (NFLX) and Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL) .
Now that bitcoin has reversed course, the excitement is fading. However, for those who have been following bitcoin for years, the current sequence of events seems familiar.
Back in 2013, after trading quietly for years, bitcoin roared from below $100 to above $1000. What happened? Prior to that time, most people simply weren’t aware of its existence. Once the press shined a light on bitcoin, the public became fascinated, and a major rally ensued.
Then, in December of 2013, bitcoin blew up. One of the world’s largest bitcoin exchanges, mtgox.com, was looted, and bitcoin valued at $400 million (in 2013 prices) was stolen. Interest faded, and by January 2015, bitcoin had lost about 80% of its value.
Viewed in this context, bitcoin’s 2017 rally has an air of familiarity. Bitcoin took off as a formerly ambivalent public suddenly took interest. The virtual currency peaked on Dec. 17, just above $19,700 (point A). Since then, a series of lower highs (LH) and lower lows (LL) have formed, indicating a downtrend.
The major resistance points for bitcoin are $10,000 and $12,925 (red lines), both of which represent former support levels. Bitcoin has another major support waiting below, in the form of its 200-day moving average (red), currently resting near $7025.
Why is bitcoin unraveling? Once again, there’s been a major crypto hack. Coincheck, one of Japan’s leading cryptocurrency exchanges, was recently looted for $530 million worth of NEM, a less-well known digital currency.
There are other reasons behind bitcoin’s slide. Some are blaming India’s finance minister, who said he plans to “take all measures to eliminate” the use of digital currencies for payment purposes. Recently, Facebook FB announced that it will ban advertisements that promote digital currencies like bitcoin.
The regulatory aspect is interesting, since there are those who insist that bitcoin can’t be regulated. We’re about to witness a showdown in India that could actually help bitcoin. Remember, this is the same country that suddenly withdrew its two highest-denomination banknotes from circulation in late 2016.
Most governments, like South Korea, have taken less of a hardline approach to bitcoin. That’s not because they take digital currencies lightly; it’s because they don’t want to fight a losing battle. If you attempt to regulate something and it flourishes anyway, all you’ve done is proven that you can’t control it. I believe that’s what we’re about to witness in India.
Of course, if history truly is repeating itself, eventually the market will realize that the world hasn’t ended for bitcoin, and it will rally again. India’s stance may hurt cryptocurrencies in the short run, but in the long run, it may actually help bitcoin.
This commentary was originally posted Feb. 2 on Real Money Pro, our site for active traders. Click here to get daily market commentary and trade ideas from Ed Ponsi, Paul Price, Doug Kass and others.