Cryptocurrency bubble

The history of cryptocurrency has been marked by speculative bubbles in 2011, 2013, 2017, and 2021–22.[1][better source needed]

Some skeptics have expressed the view that the entire cryptocurrency market constitutes a speculative bubble. Adherents include The Black Swan author Nassim Taleb; Michael Burry, who shorted subprime mortgage bonds as detailed in The Big Short; and Berkshire Hathaway board members, including Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have also been named as speculative bubbles by several laureates of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, central bankers, and investors.

Historical bubblesEdit

2011 booms and crashesEdit

In February 2011, the price of bitcoin rose to US$1.06, then fell to US$0.67 that April. (This spike was encouraged by several Slashdot posts about it.) [1] In June 2011, bitcoin's price again rose, to US$29.58. This came after attention from a Gawker article about the darkweb market Silk Road. The price then fell to US$2.14 that November.[1]

2013 boom and 2014–15 crashEdit

In November 2013, bitcoin's price rose to US$1,127.45. It then gradually declined, bottoming out at US$172.15 in January 2015.[1]

2017 boom and 2018 crashEdit

The 2018 cryptocurrency crash[2][3][4][5][6] (also known as the bitcoin crash[7] and the Great crypto crash[8]) was the sell-off of most cryptocurrencies from January 2018. After an unprecedented boom in 2017, the price of bitcoin fell by about 65% from 6 January to 6 February 2018. Subsequently, nearly all other cryptocurrencies followed bitcoin's crash. By September 2018, cryptocurrencies collapsed 80% from their peak in January 2018, making the 2018 cryptocurrency crash worse than the Dot-com bubble's 78% collapse.[8] By 26 November, bitcoin also fell by 80% from its peak, having lost almost one-third of its value in the previous week.[9]

Timeline of the crashEdit

  • 17 December 2017: bitcoin's price briefly reached a new all-time high of $19,783.06.[10]
  • 22 December 2017: bitcoin fell below $11,000, a fall of 45% from its peak.[11]
  • 12 January 2018: Amidst rumors that South Korea could be preparing to ban trading in cryptocurrency, the price of bitcoin depreciated by 12 percent.[12][13]
  • 26 January 2018: Coincheck, Japan's largest cryptocurrency OTC market, was hacked. 530 million US dollars of the NEM were stolen by the hacker, and the loss was the largest ever by an incident of theft, which caused Coincheck to indefinitely suspend trading.[14]
  • 7 March 2018: Compromised Binance API keys were used to execute irregular trades.[15]
  • Late March 2018: Facebook, Google, and Twitter banned advertisements for initial coin offerings (ICO) and token sales.[16]
  • 15 November 2018: bitcoin's market capitalization fell below $100 billion for the first time since October 2017 and the price of bitcoin fell to $5,500.[17][18]

Initial coin offeringsEdit

Wired noted in 2017 that the bubble in initial coin offerings (ICOs) was about to burst.[19] Some investors bought ICOs in hopes of participating in the financial gains similar to those enjoyed by early bitcoin or Ethereum speculators.[20]

Binance has been one of the biggest winners in this boom as it surged to become the largest cryptocurrency trading platform by volume. It lists hundreds of digital tokens on its exchange.[21]

In June 2018, Ella Zhang of Binance Labs, a division of the cryptocurrency exchange Binance, stated that she was hoping to see the bubble in ICOs collapse. She promised to help "fight scams and shit coins".[22]

2020–2021 boom and 2021–2022 crashEdit

2020–2021 bubblesEdit

In early 2021, bitcoin's price witnessed another boom, rising over 700% since March 2020,[23] and reaching above $40,000 for the first time on 7 January. On 11 January, the UK Financial Conduct Authority warned investors against lending or investments in cryptoassets, that they should be prepared "to lose all their money".[24] On 16 February, bitcoin reached $50,000 for the first time.[25] On 13 March, bitcoin surpassed $61,000 for the first time.[26] Following a smaller correction in February, bitcoin plunged from its peak above $64,000 on 14 April to below $49,000 on 23 April, representing a 23% mini-crash in less than 10 days, dipping below the March bottom trading range and wiping half a trillion dollars from the combined crypto market cap.

Other cryptocurrencies' prices also sharply rose, then followed by losses of value during this period. In May 2021, the value of Dogecoin, originally created as a joke, increased to 20,000% of value in one year.[27] It then dropped 34% over the weekend.

By 19 May, bitcoin had dropped in value by 30% to $31,000, Ethereum by 40%, and Dogecoin by 45%. Nearly all cryptocurrencies were down by at least double-digit percentages.[28] Major cryptocurrency exchanges went down amid a market-wide price crash. This was partly in response to Elon Musk's announcement that Tesla would suspend payments using the Bitcoin network due to environmental concerns, along with an announcement from the People's Bank of China reiterating that digital currencies cannot be used for payments.[28]

bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies experienced a solid recovery after Elon Musk met with leading bitcoin mining companies to develop more sustainable and efficient bitcoin mining.[29] As of October 2021, China has continued shutting down crypto trading and mining activities, and Tesla has not yet resumed payments with bitcoin.

2021–2022 crashEdit

Beginning in November 2021, cryptocurrencies saw significant declines in value.[30][31] By 21 January 2022, the crash had erased US$1 trillion of market value,[32] which is more than the inflation adjusted loss of value witnessed after Black Tuesday in 1929.[33] The declines continued into 2022.[34]

Collapse of Terra-LunaEdit

In May 2022, the stablecoin TerraUSD fell to 10 US cents.[35] This was supposed to be pegged to the US dollar via a complex algorithmic relationship with its support coin Luna. The loss of the peg resulted in Luna falling to almost zero, down from its high of $119.51.[36] The collapse wiped out $45 billion of market capitalization in a week.[37] On 25 May, a proposal was approved to reissue a new Luna cryptocurrency and to decouple from and abandon the devalued UST stablecoin.[38][39] The new Luna coin lost value in the opening days of being listed on exchanges.[40]

In the wake of Terra-Luna's collapse, another algorithmic stablecoin, DEI, lost its peg to the dollar and started to collapse.[41][42]


Bitcoin has been characterized as a speculative bubble by eight winners of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences: Paul Krugman,[43] Robert J. Shiller,[44] Joseph Stiglitz,[45] Richard Thaler,[46] James Heckman,[47] Thomas Sargent,[47] Angus Deaton,[47] and Oliver Hart;[47] and by central bank officials including Alan Greenspan,[48] Agustín Carstens,[49] Vítor Constâncio,[50] and Nout Wellink.[51]

The investors Warren Buffett and George Soros have respectively characterized it as a "mirage"[52] and a "bubble";[53] while the business executives Jack Ma and J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon have called it a "bubble"[54] and a "fraud",[55] respectively. However, Dimon said later he regrets calling Bitcoin a fraud.[56]

From January to February 2018, the price of bitcoin fell 65 percent.[2] By September 2018, the MVIS CryptoCompare Digital Assets 10 Index had lost 80 percent of its value, making the decline of the cryptocurrency market, in percentage terms, greater than the bursting of the Dot-com bubble in 2002.[8] In November 2018, the total market capitalization for bitcoin fell below $100 billion for the first time since October 2017,[57][58] and the price of bitcoin fell below $4,000, representing an 80 percent decline from its peak the previous January.[59] bitcoin reached a low of around $3,100 in December 2018.[60][61] From 8 March to 12 March 2020, the price of bitcoin fell by 30 percent from $8,901 to $6,206.[62] By October 2020, bitcoin was worth approximately $13,200.[63]

In November 2020, bitcoin again surpassed its previous all-time high of over $19,000.[64] After another surge on 3 January 2021 with $34,792.47, bitcoin crashed by 17 percent the next day.[65] bitcoin traded above $40,000 for the first time on 8 January 2021[66] and reached $50,000 on 16 February 2021.[67] On Wednesday, 20 October 2021, bitcoin reached a new all-time high of $66,974.[68]


Since the rollout of the Bitcoin network, over 12,000 altcoins have been created.[69][70]

A January 2018 article by CBS cautioned about a cryptocurrency bubble and fraud, citing the case of BitConnect, a British company which received a cease-and-desist order from the Texas State Securities Board. BitConnect had promised very high monthly returns but hadn't registered with state securities regulators or given their office address.[71]

Notable cryptocurrency skepticsEdit

See alsoEdit


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  70. ^ Daly, Lyle (25 February 2022). "How Many Cryptocurrencies Are There?". The Motley Fool. Archived from the original on 19 May 2022. Retrieved 1 June 2022. There are now more than 12,000 cryptocurrencies, and what's truly astonishing is the growth rate. The number of cryptocurrencies more than doubled from 2021 to 2022. At the end of 2021, the market was adding about 1,000 new cryptocurrencies every month ... The biggest reason that there are so many different cryptocurrencies is that there's practically no barrier to entry ... It wasn't always this way. In the early days, there was only Bitcoin. Then developers started creating altcoins. An altcoin is any cryptocurrency other than Bitcoin. Most early altcoins were intended to improve on Bitcoin's performance or serve some other purpose.
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  75. ^ De Vynck, Gerrit (29 May 2022). "First she documented the alt-right. Now she's coming for crypto". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 31 May 2022. Retrieved 31 May 2022. A 28-year-old software engineer who writes Wikipedia articles for fun, White is an odd figure to make the crypto industry cower. On her website, “Web3 is Going Just Great,” White documents case after case of crypto malfeasance: investments that turn out to be scams, poorly-run projects that collapse under mismanagement and hacks that drain supporters’ money. As much of the financial and tech elite has rallied around crypto, White has led a small but scrappy group of skeptics pushing the other way whose warnings have seemed vindicated by the cratering in recent weeks of cryptocurrency prices.
  76. ^ Pahwa, Nitish. "To Be Clear, Web3 Is Not Going Great". Slate. Archived from the original on 28 May 2022. Retrieved 31 May 2022. One of the most prominent skeptics these days is Molly White, a software developer who started the blog Web3 Is Going Just Great last December ... The site has gotten quite popular among fellow doubters, and White herself has become a go-to voice countering the hype coming from crypto companies and maxis—even collaborating with other crypto watchers on a project fact-checking mainstream publications’ praise of crypto.
  77. ^ Bernard, Zoe (29 April 2022). "Crypto's CSI: How Molly White Became an 'Absolute Nightmare' for Web3 Evangelists". The Information. Archived from the original on 12 May 2022. Retrieved 31 May 2022. Over the course of one week in April, Molly White’s internet crime blotter Web3 Is Going Just Great documented 15 crypto-related offenses, each of which alone would hobble—or at least humiliate—most other industries ... White is in a unique position to catalog Web3’s never-ending highlight reel of disasters. A software engineer who has worked in front-end development at enterprise software company HubSpot for the past six years, the 28-year-old has a sophisticated understanding of the blockchain’s underlying technology.

Further readingEdit