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JPMorgan Blames Bakkt and Bitcoin Futures for Price Drop

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Just under a week ago, the excitement was building as the Intercontinental Exchange’s Bakkt physically settled Bitcoin Futures contracts were about to start trading, potentially heralding in a new wave of mainstream adoption.

On the day of the launch, the Bitcoin price fell slightly, to go under a critical marker of $10,000. It was not the end of the world though, and there were a few passing comments that the Bakkt launch was the reason for Bitcoin’s price falling. 

However, now that Bitcoin has sunk to lows of under $8,000 in the last week, it is worth revisiting that position again. It has even seen analysts at JPMorgan placing the blame on the Bakkt debut as well as a position shakeout causing this dramatic drop. 

This weekly drop is the biggest one seen since November last year which has led the JPMorgan team, led by Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, to place the blame squarely on the Bakkt contracts, while also calling them a sign of maturity. 

“It may be that the listing of physically settled futures contracts (that enables some holders of physical Bitcoin e.g., miners to hedge exposures) has contributed to recent price declines, rather than the low initial volumes,” JPMorgan said in the report dated Friday.

There was some that thought that the low volume in the first few days from Bakkt was to blame, but this would be a little superficial as even with 71 BTC being traded on the first day, it was hardly a flop and always seen as a gradually building product. 

The JP Morgan lead, Panigirtzoglou, and colleagues, noted that Bitcoin price peaks coinciding with overbought conditions. They then added that the long base in CME contracts appears to have declined “markedly” from its peak a couple of months ago with some further reduction this week. The Bitmex position proxy suggests a “more marked capitulation” of Bitcoin longs over the past week.

“This position liquidation has also likely contributed to the sharp falls in Bitcoin prices this week,” the JPMorgan men said, adding a final note of caution: “While the previous overhang of long Bitcoin futures positions appears to have cleared in Bitmex futures, this is not yet true for CME contracts.”

If it has indeed been the effect of institutionalized tools and products that have moved the market so sharply, it is worth looking on the bright side of things. There was a time where institutional money was nearly ineffective in the Bitcoin market, but now it appears to have been sufficient enough to drop the price by 20 percent. 

Darryn Pollock
Darryn has been interested in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space since he heard about Bitcoin in 2015. He then decided to use his journalism degree to report on this fascinating fintech space in 2016, and has not looked back since.

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