Bitcoin hit a market capitalization of $1 trillion as it rose to yet another record high on Friday, countering analyst warnings that it is an “economic sideshow” and a poor hedge against a fall in stock prices.
Analysts at JP Morgan said bitcoin’s current prices were well above estimates of fair value. Mainstream adoption increases bitcoin’s correlation with cyclical assets, which rise and fall with economic changes, in turn reducing benefits of diversifying into crypto, the investment bank said in a memo.
“Crypto-assets continue to rank as the poorest hedge for major drawdowns in equities, with questionable diversification benefits at prices so far above production costs, while correlations with cyclical assets are rising as crypto ownership is mainstreamed,” JP Morgan said.
Bitcoin is an “economic sideshow,” it added, calling innovation in financial technology and the growth of digital platforms into credit and payments “the real financial transformational story of the COVID-19 era.”
Other investors this week said bitcoin’s volatility presents a hurdle for it to become a widespread means of payment.
On Thursday, Tesla boss Elon Musk – whose tweets have fueled bitcoin’s rally – said owning the digital coin was only a little better than holding cash. He also defended Tesla’s recent purchase of $1.5 billion of bitcoin, which ignited mainstream interest in the digital currency.
Bitcoin proponents argue the cryptocurrency is “digital gold” that can hedge against the risk of inflation sparked by massive central bank and government stimulus packages designed to counter COVID-19.
Yet bitcoin would need to rise to $146,000 in the long-term for its market cap to equal the total private-sector investment in gold via exchange-traded funds or bars and coins, according to JP Morgan.
Rival cryptocurrency ether also hit an all-time peak of $1,974.99 on Friday, and was last up 1.2% at $1,961.32, after its futures were launched on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
Bitcoin’s surge extended to crypto-related stocks as well, such as Silvergate Capital Corp, which was up 8.2%, cryptocurrency miner Riot Blockchain, 13.5% higher, and Marathon Patent Group, up 7.3%.
Shares of Overstock.com, an online retailer and blockchain tech investor, gained 4.1%; while MicroStrategy Inc, a bitcoin buyer and business intelligence software firm, advanced 4.1%.
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