Bitcoin

Bitcoin Breaks $9,500

If bitcoin is a bubble, it is apparently one that is still inflating.

The price of bitcoin made it up above $9,500 on Monday for the first time. That means the price of bitcoin is up 900 percent in 2017 — an acceleration that has picked up in the last month.

The price of bitcoin kept right on going past $9,500 — as of mid-morning in New York yesterday, bitcoin rose as high as $9,732. Bitcoin broke the $9,000 milestone over the weekend — just about a week after it hit its previous high-water mark of $8,000. That is the fastest $1,000 jump in bitcoin value in its brief history — it took eight days for it to go from $3,000 to $4,000, and needed nine days to go from $5,000 to $6,000.

“Bitcoin has seen another frenzy of buying as the fear-of-missing-out trade bites even harder,” Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG Group, wrote to clients on Monday, also saying that “mad momentum” is driving the price higher.

Coinbase alone, he noted, has added about 100,000 accounts last week from Wednesday to Friday — bringing its total to 13.1 million. Charles Schwab, as a point of comparison, had 10.6 million active brokerage accounts as of October.

However, while Coinbase now has more accounts, Schwab accounts hold about $3.3 trillion in client assets. That is a lot more than is collectively being held in Coinbase accounts.

And, even with the record-breaking price tag, skepticism still reigns in some quarters when it comes to bitcoin.

“These bubbles tend to end in tears, and I worry about how this bubble might end,” said Kenneth Griffin, founder and CEO of hedge-fund firm Citadel LLC in an interview on CNBC Monday.

Crytpocurrency has gotten a sudden, and surprising, push from the rash of initial coin offerings that have been sweeping the segment. Despite warnings from regulators that ICOs might in fact be illegal offerings of securities, there have been over 160 of these token offerings, and they have raised more than $3 billion this year alone.

It is also notable that Bitcoin has had swings this year — even amid the big rally — suffering through five separate declines of 20 percent or more. The latest came earlier this month, when bitcoin fell more than 25 percent over four days before effecting a quick turnaround.

Bitcoin has a market capitalization of about $161 billion, according to industry site Coinmarketcap.com.

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