The case for $5,000 bitcoin

A fortune in the future?
A fortune in the future?
Image: Reuters/Jim Urquhart
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Bitcoin is either an enormous bubble or has a lot further to run. Financial forecasters are weighing in on the cryptocurrency, trying to divine where bitcoin’s price is headed, now that it sits at around $3,400, up from around $600 a year ago.

Here are the arguments for bitcoin hitting $5,000—or higher.

It’s scarce and people will want it—for whatever reason

Ronnie Moas of Standpoint Research has a target of $5,000 for bitcoin by 2018, or in five months’ time. He published his call in a 122-page report at the end of July, which you can get via the Standpoint website or if you contact him on Twitter.

His rationale is that a fraction of the world’s $200 trillion in stocks, bonds, gold, and cash will eventually make its way into bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies over the next 10 years. Moas thinks cryptos will be used as a payment system in emerging economies, and a store of value elsewhere. Cryptocurrencies then establish themselves as an asset class that mainstream investment advisers pitch to clients, he says. This scenario takes bitcoin’s market value from $56 billion today to $1 trillion. Overall, he believes cryptocurrencies will reach $2 trillion in market value—and that’s his conservative estimate.

“It would not shock me to see cryptocurrencies go to 4%” of global investment assets, Moas says. “Before anyone laughs at me for suggesting that something like that could happen—just look at what happened [in bitcoin] in the last five years. People who put in $10,000 made $1 million already. It happened already and I think it will happen one more time. We are in the 15th minute of a 90-minute soccer game—and it could go to overtime.”

Gold bugs will switch to bitcoin

Both bitcoin and gold are scarce commodities with a finite supply, notes Tom Lee of Fundstrat. Both, arguably, have no particular utility beyond the value ascribed to them by the markets.

In July, Lee published a report setting out the case for valuing bitcoin as a gold substitute, according to CNBC. His methodology implies bitcoin’s price will reach $20,000 to $55,000 in five years, representing a 12 to 43-fold increase from today’s price. The value of all the world’s gold is around $7.6 trillion at current prices, or around 130 times the size of the bitcoin market. As bitcoin’s market value rises, Lee reckons central banks will start buying it, pushing the price up further and “accelerating the substitution of gold,” he told CNBC.

The charts say so

Goldman Sachs technical analyst Sheba Jafari sees bitcoin potentially hitting $3,915, or about 15% above current prices. Jafari has identified four “waves” of bitcoin price rises over the past several years, and believes that a fifth is coming, eventually: “It just might take time to get there.”

Trump goes on a spending spree 

Saxo Bank’s Kay-Van Petersen argues that a Trump administration spending spree could send US growth and inflation soaring, forcing the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates aggressively. Emerging markets, especially China, will then look for alternative asset classes not so beholden to central bank-controlled monetary policies. Enter bitcoin. Petersen predicted last year that bitcoin would hit $2,000 based on those factors this year. That target was achieved, but not quite for the reasons he spelled out.

In May, he set out a 10-year forecast for bitcoin hitting a whopping $100,000, based on cryptocurrencies capturing 10% of all currency trading volume within a decade. Bitcoin would account for about a third of that, or some $175 billion traded daily. If the daily traded volume is typically 10% of bitcoin’s total market capitalization, that values bitcoin at $1.75 trillion, he told CNBC.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated Ronnie Moas’s prediction of bitcoin’s market value.