What makes predicting long-term bitcoin prices so interesting is the fact that they are so difficult to predict. You may be better off throwing darts.
The chances of being off by a wide margin are much higher than with traditional assets, for whom there is usually at least some consensus as to the structure of their value equation. With bitcoin, the margin of error can be particularly brutal for extreme predictions, which usually have a lower probability of being realized. Of course, you’ll be hailed as a genius or even a god if your prophecy is fulfilled.
Although bitcoin prices have become more stable over time, they are still volatile. They are subject to heavy speculation, flash crashes, manipulation, intense short squeezes and all sorts of irrational behavior.
“If OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) came out tomorrow and said, ‘in six months’ time we’re going to halve oil production’, the oil price would instantaneously react.”
And if the last two years are any indication, bitcoin is going to make big moves early in the new year. However, as also observed in the last two years, what goes on in January and February is in no way indicative of how bitcoin will end the year.
This year, many bulls have come out of their shell. Last December, bitcoin was caught in a miserable decline with seemingly no end in sight.
With all this in mind, we review the forecasts of those bold enough to make them:
Daniel Masters, head of Global Advisors, a commodities-focused hedge fund that launched a bitcoin fund last year, is particularly bullish. He is the ex-husband of former JPMorgan executive Blythe Masters (now running a blockchain startup) and was previously a trader at JPMorgan.
According to Reuters, he believes bitcoin will test its 2013 highs of $1,100 next year and soar to $4,400- roughly ten times today’s price- in 2017. He argues that the following factors will contribute to the rise: increased bitcoin adoption and acceptance, rapidly growing interest in blockchain technology and increased demand from China due to a weakening economy and currency.
In addition, Masters believes that next year’s halving of bitcoin mining rewards will increase prices by 50%. He argues that the slower pace of supply generation will pressure prices higher.
“If OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) came out tomorrow and said, ‘in six months’ time we’re going to halve oil production’, the oil price would instantaneously react. But the bitcoin market is still in its infancy, and I don’t think that factor is discounted into the price fully,” he said.
It is, however, difficult to picture bitcoin soaring due to the halving alone. A slowdown in the rate of generation is different than an overall reduction in supply. The latter is of greater relevance with commodities that are consumed. Bitcoin, once created, almost never disappears.
Bobby Lee, CEO of Chinese bitcoin exchange BTCC, believes bitcoin will reach $3,500, also because of the halving phenomenon.
“Today the worth of bitcoin is $1 per capita in the world (population). For such an innovative, decentralized digital asset, I say ‘boy, are we undervaluing it’. But it takes a while for people to realize that,” he said.
Next, we have Barry Silbert, founder of Digital Currency Group. According to an article in Bitcoin Magazine, Silbert recently said the “bitcoin price will be higher” by the end of 2016, without getting into numbers. In April, he forecast that bitcoin will either go down to $0 or significantly higher than its price at the time. “It won’t be $230,” he said.
Money Morning reports other bullish predictions by ShapeShift CEO Erik Voorhees ($1,800); Vishal Gupta, CEO of SearchTrade.com ($1,500 to $2,000); and Simon Dixon, CEO of BnkToTheFuture, who assessed that if bitcoin hits $600, he “sees no reason why we should not see new highs breaking through the $1,200 level.”
This past summer, Gil Luria of Wedbush Securities assigned a 12-month price target of $400 for bitcoin, and by extension, a $40 price target for publicly traded shares of Bitcoin Investment Trust (OTCMKTS:GBTC), which track bitcoin’s value.
His targets were reached pretty quickly, sooner than expected by most. Last month, he raised his target to $600.
“We believe bitcoin and its associated blockchain technology have the potential to disrupt the existing financial infrastructure over the next several years, and believe the value of the Bitcoin currency (BTC) will benefit from this trend,” he wrote.
Going With the Trend
One can’t rule out the prevailing trend as having shaped at least some of the upbeat outlooks. Had bitcoin continued to languish in the low $200’s as it did through most of the year, it would be harder to imagine pundits brazenly forecasting a rally.
In a sense, the bullishness resembles that of late 2013, when bitcoin was still flirting with all-time highs near $1,000. This time around, however, the forecasts are somewhat tamer. In June 2014, a bullish time for bitcoin, Pantera Capital suggested that bitcoin can reach $10,000.
These days, we’re not coming off 1,000% rallies, which would make five-digit predictions not so outlandish. Bitcoin, with some notable exceptions, was far less wild in 2015. If we’d have to make one prediction, it’s that the trend of stabilization will continue at least for another year.