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Are we in a crypto winter?

Crypto winter or just a temporary setback? Analyzing the recent market downturn and its potential implications for the future of cryptocurrency.

Are we in a crypto winter?
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Anyone that has been watching the markets closely for the last several months will have noticed a definite chill in the air (not to mention a decline in their money). As the bears become more prominent, weak hands are losing faith and exiting the market. Why are we talking about a cryptocurrency winter now? Before we firmly declare this to be a crypto winter, let's explore the recent dips of the digital asset market and what previous crypto winters have detailed. 

What is a cryptocurrency winter?

A cryptocurrency winter is a term used in the crypto market to describe a long term bear market. A bear market is classified as a declining market where shares have fallen below 20%. Investors typically call it a crypto winter when the markets have struggled to reclaim highs previously witnessed (usually right before the winter set in). Does that mean cryptocurrency investors should take out their snow shoes? Metaphorically, yes. And by snow shoes we mean thick skin and strong hands.

The recent market climate (five month period).

Since reaching its most recent all-time high, Bitcoin has dropped over 40%. After reaching highs of $68,789.63 in November 2021, Bitcoin has gone through a red-tainted slump reaching lows of $33,710 in late January and since recovering to just under the $40,000 mark. 

Ethereum, the second-biggest cryptocurrency, has experienced a similar fate, dropping from highs of $4,891 in November 2021 to lows of $2,211 in late January. Ethereum has since corrected to the $2,800 region as it generates interest in its move to a Proof-of-Stake consensus. 

It's no secret that the stock markets have suffered a similar fate in recent months, with seemingly only gold remaining unscathed. Experts have suggested in various articles that the uncertainty in global politics is playing a considerable role in the decline of various markets and businesses.

Buterin confirms a crypto winter

As touched on above, the current ongoing war between Russia & Ukraine has played a large role in driving investors' uncertainty as prices bounce through the highly volatile period. While we've seen an increase in trading volume, there have also been strong price swings.

This paired with the declining prices has led to a downfall in companies and traders entering the market, further fuelling the problem. This has become known in the industry as a crypto winter. 

Ethereum founder, Vitalik Buterin, recently confirmed the case, although he also highlighted the positives, particularly for those on the development side. He pointed out that crypto winters offer a period of rejuvenation for the industry, allowing unsustainable projects to fall away. 

"They welcome the bear market because when there are these long periods of prices moving up by huge amounts as it does - it does obviously make a lot of people happy - but it does also tend to invite a lot of very short-term speculative attention."

He added that it encompasses a "time when a lot of those applications fall away and you can see which projects are actually long-term sustainable, like both in their models and in their teams and their people." If one factors the development side of things in, we can bank on the industry coming out stronger after this period.

Unwrapping the previous crypto winter

The last crypto winter we experienced took place in 2018 after the highs of December 2017 (when Bitcoin almost reached $20,000). This bear market continued until mid-2019 before it started showing signs of recovery. It wasn't until Bitcoin defied the odds in 2020 and overcame the pandemic that it soared to higher heights, almost triple that of the previous all-time high. 

While losing 40% of its value this season sounds rough, the previous crypto winter saw losses of 84%. As cryptocurrencies further emerge themselves into the mainstream financial markets, many believe it is only a matter of time before the prices enter the green again. Time also tends to play a regulator role when it comes to changing crypto seasons. 

Bitcoin's four year cycle theory

There is a growing belief in the industry that Bitcoin has a definitive four-year cycle of prices rising and falling. This aligns with the halving mechanism which takes effect every 210,000 blocks, or roughly every four years. 

The halving, the last of which took place in May 2020, halves the rewards given to miners for verifying transactions and effectively halves the number of new coins entering circulation. History has shown that a bull run succeeds these events, roughly twelve to eighteen months later. 

Surviving the chill

While many can agree that the crypto winter is upon us, there is no saying how long it might last, or how low it may go. Analysts suggest that traders use the time to sharpen their investment strategies and implement plans of action that keep risk to a minimum. As blockchain and cryptocurrencies have already passed a significant milestone in their adoption, there is no stopping it now. For any traders concerned over the crypto winter, fear not. It will pass. 

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