For those obsessed with mining statistics on a level of major league baseball proportions, take notice.
The difficulty of bitcoin mining has decreased once again, marking two consecutive intervals of decline. Two weeks ago, the level dropped slightly by 0.62%. Today, it dropped from 40,007,470,271 to 39,457,671,307, a decrease of 1.37%.
The drop corresponds with a waning hashrate, hovering near recent lows around 280 PH/s.
A two-period losing streak has not occurred since December 27, 2012, when it first declined by 2%, followed by another of 11.6%. After an increase during the next interval, it fell again during the following period by 22.4%, which was the last time it fell prior to the drop two weeks ago.
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The next difficulty change is forecast to be another decrease to 38,951,172,434, which would make it three straight. This has not happened since November 2011.
For those examining “mining economics” in a bid to gauge Bitcoin’s future outlook, the two consecutive periods of decline may signal the equivalent of a network “recession,” as it were – analogous to its macroeconomic counterpart involving two consecutive quarters of GDP decline.
Of course, the theory of equilibrium would dictate that under easier conditions, miners will return to the network and difficulty will rise again.
However, this assumes price conditions make it economically sensible to do so. Increasing difficulty has not recently translated into higher prices. Further price declines will render more mining operations unprofitable, driving them to exit the network with the resulting effects on hashrate and difficulty.