It’s supposed to be the new gold of the 21st century. With the burgeoning blockchain technology and the resultant digital reward token, many investors have piled into bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Primarily, these assets offer an alternative to the global fiat monetary system. But in many ways, they represent next-generation safe havens.
Unlike fiat currencies, cryptocurrencies (at least, most of them) can’t be artificially inflated to suit an agenda. Rather, they come to life through a process called mining, where individual miners compete with each other for the right to secure transactional blocks of data in the blockchain. This public, decentralized process requires incredible computing power to solve the complex algorithmic-based problems inherent in mining; hence, the surge in mining-specific GPUs.
Of course, this is a sharp contrast to the “plunge-protection team,” which Wall Street deploys to give the markets a cooling-off period during extreme volatility. With cryptocurrencies, no cooling-off period exists. That’s part of the reason why the sector is so volatile. At the same time, these are as true of markets that you’ll find – no BS and no excuses.
However, this overriding sentiment did not save blockchain assets from tumbling over the last few days. While the coronavirus epidemic understandably hurt the financial markets, many crypto advocates hoped that bitcoin and the altcoins would go against the grain.
Obviously, that didn’t happen. Why?
Cryptocurrencies Face Similar Risks to Traditional Investments
I’m not going to pretend that I have all the answers: the broader blockchain markets feature wide-ranging complexities, from fundamental drivers to technical catalysts. Rather, I’d like to share my observation.
Primarily, I believe that Americans are not taking the coronavirus seriously enough. For them, it’s an exotic disease halfway across the world. Sure, many are taking precautions, but the majority appear to have a rather lackadaisical attitude.
This contrasts with attitudes in China and other Asian countries. For instance, severely impacted cities in South Korea have been emptied as residents curtail all unnecessary travel. Here in the U.S., we go about our daily lives as if nothing is happening – even though reports indicate that the coronavirus can spread without conspicuous symptoms.
Therefore, we could be sitting on a viral landmine and not even realize it. On the other end of the spectrum, Asian residents are taking no chances.
Given that Asians dominate cryptocurrency engagements, it’s logical that the disruption to their regional economy would impact the entire market. In other words, bitcoin might be a real-time indicator – or a harbinger – of the coronavirus effect.