What happens during a recession?
Firstly, growth falls, in fact, that’s the definition of a recession—two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth, or GDP. Secondly, stock prices tend to decline. Thirdly, bond yields more often than not fall as investors buy Treasurys, a widely considered haven asset. And now, according to a recent survey, you can add one more asset class that will draw bids should a recession hit: cryptocurrencies.
The survey, conducted by Fundstrat Global Advisors, found close to three quarters, or 72%, of institutional investors said they believe the value of cryptocurrencies will rise during a recession. Additionally, an online Twitter survey administered by the same company found that 59% agree.
Often linked with the antiestablishment libertarian community, popularized in the months and years after the financial crisis, digital currencies are slowly being incorporated in traditional markets, as a number of funds seek to capitalize on the volatility in the nascent assets, if not their rise in price. Despite a rough 2018, the price of bitcoin,
the world’s largest digital currency, climbed more than 1,000% in 2017, but has shed about 60% of its value since a peak in December.
Given this gradual mainstream adoption, Mati Greenspan, senior market analyst at eToro, said a rally during a recession is no foregone conclusion. “I don’t think it’s so binary. If we look over the past few years crypto have had a unique correlation with high-risk assets. They have risen as investors sought additional risk,” he said.
CRYPTO POLL (2 of 6 questions):
Do you think Crypto prices rise in a recession?
— Thomas Lee (@fundstrat) September 30, 2018
Yet, given the nature of the 2008 financial crisis, where so-called trusted third parties scorned investors, a medium of exchange that operates on a peer-to-peer basis using blockchain, the underlying technology that supports cryptocurrencies, Greenspan said he could understand the thinking.
“However, I do see why investors think that,” he said. “Bitcoin was built on the ashes of the financial crisis to provide an alternative to fiat money run by governments and banks. If there was a catalyst that would make people question the role of these institutions then I can see them moving higher.”
But, with the U.S. economy humming along, growing at its fastest pace since 2014, it might be a while before the debate is settled.
Elsewhere, the Fundstrat survey found that central banks are the biggest factor influencing cryptocurrency prices. More than half of institutional investors polled believe the price of bitcoin has bottomed and XRP,
the coin that runs on the Ripple protocol was the most polarizing virtual currency.
“On Twitter, 46% chose XRP as their favorite and 31% said it made “least sense.”—no other token came close. Even 28% of Institutions also said XRP made the least sense and zero institutions picked it as their favorite token,” wrote Tom Lee, managing partner at Fundstrat Global Advisors.
The online surveyed included six questions and was conducted between Sept. 30 and Oct. 3, 2018 and received ~9,500 responses and the institutional survey was conducted at a dinner with 25 institutions, the company said.
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