Sure, volatility in equities has come down since February’s apocalyptic “Seth Golden moment” and no, volatility in other assets doesn’t look like it’s prone to contagion, but you’d be forgiven for being a bit nervous lately.
After all, Donald Trump is still President and he’s digging investors’ graves as we speak by piling deficit-funded tax cuts and all manner of ill-advised fiscal stimulus atop an economy operating at full employment and by just generally trying to do whatever he can on an hourly basis to destabilize the existing world order. Here he is yesterday pretending like he knows how to use a shovel, immortalized in GIF format by the incomparable Parker Molloy:
So you might be wondering : are there any havens left? I mean after all, in the wake of the February rout, the ability to hedge a spike in equity volatility effectively disappeared. Recall these charts out from Goldman on March 12:
So where does one turn when the outlook is as cloudy as it is currently? Well, not to cryptocurrencies according to all kinds of folks who have variously suggested that Bitcoin is the “new frontier” in risk-taking. Multiple analysts and commentators (including Deutsche’s Masao Muraki, Wells Fargo’s Chris Harvey, equity strategists from Morgan Stanley and of course, Jeff “The Joker” Gundlach) have weighed in over the past six or so months to suggest that far from a “safe haven”, Bitcoin’s epic plunge off the December highs is in fact the canary in the coal mine for risk assets.
Or maybe not, because wouldn’t you know it, cryptos are up an absurd 75% so far in April according to t
What accounts for this? Well, nothing, actually. Because as you’re hopefully aware, this space is primarily comprised of valueless tokens with no underlying rate of return and lax regulation.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t attribute it to arbitrary lines on a chart. Just ask ADM Investor Services’ Marc Ostwald who spoke to Bloomberg. “A lot of people who trade Bitcoin do it off technicals, the same as any commodity, like wheat or oil,” Ostwald said, for a piece published on Tuesday. “For some of them, there’s clearly a downtrend broken, after a double-bottom.”
There are other “explanations” I suppose, like maybe Russian oligarchs fleeing to the safe, untraceable, confines of the cryptosphere in light of U.S. sanctions or maybe the end of some tax selling. For instance, notorious Bitcoin bull Tom Lee told CNBC last week that $25,000 might be a foregone conclusion by the end of the year now that “tax-selling pressure” is behind us.
Whatever. If you’re betting on Bitcoin and/or any other crypto “assets” to act as a diversifier/hedge against potential turmoil in other asset classes for the remainder of the year, you’re probably going to end up in a “double-bottom” scenario – although not in the technical analysis sense.