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SPRING BREAK

When will the “crypto winter” end?

By Jason Karaian

The price of bitcoin peaked in mid-December 2017. Since then, it’s lost roughly 80% of its value. Of course, this isn’t the first time the cryptocurrency went ice cold.

The previous “crypto winter,” between December 2013 and February 2015, also saw bitcoin shed 80% of its value. In fact, the value destruction during these two episodes ended up at almost exactly the same spot (in relative terms) at the same point past the peak—that is, 440-odd days after the all-time high.

If you think that the bitcoin price will follow a similar trajectory as before—for whatever reason—then history suggests patience is needed: It took bitcoin two years from its trough in early 2015 to return to its previous peak above $1,000. Bitcoin’s most recent trough was in mid-December 2018, so investors who bought at the top, when bitcoin hit $20,000, may have to wait until Christmas 2020 to recoup their losses. Are you willing to take that bet?

A version of this originally appeared as part of Private Key, a twice-weekly feature about crypto, blockchain, and decentralized economies for Quartz members. Sign up to become a member, which includes a seven-day free trial.