No, Bitcoin is not in its ‘longest ever bear market’ — Here’s why

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Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) are not in their “longest ever bear market” and probably are not even in a bear market at all, according to some industry observers.

MN Trading founder Michaël van de Poppe took to X (formerly Twitter) on Aug. 27 to claim that Bitcoin is currently in its “longest bear market” in history.

“Right now, the price of Bitcoin is nowhere near the valuation of the peak in November ’21. It’s down more than 50% and in a bear market of 490 days,” the trader wrote.

Van de Poppe’s statement has brought much attention from X users, amassing 1.3 million views and nearly a thousand reposts at the time of writing. Some crypto enthusiasts, however, are confident that Van de Poppe’s information is not the case.

To determine the length of the current “bear market” in crypto, it’s necessary to understand that there are different interpretations of the term.

“Thing is, the terms ‘bull’ and ‘bear market’ are entirely subjective,” Quantum Economics founder Mati Greenspan told Cointelegraph. “It can mean either the price has moved in the past or that the price is expected to move in a certain direction in the future,” Greenspan said, adding:

“The ambiguity creates endless opportunities for analysts to make pointless arguments in perpetuity.”

According to Cointelegraph’s market editor Allen Scott, one may view the current market situation as a “multi-year bear market now until a new all-time high is broken.” Such a perspective suggests that Bitcoin has been in a bear market since reaching its historic peak near $69,000 on Nov. 10, 2021, or for 659 days. The period is even longer than the one mentioned by Van de Poppe, but it’s still not the longest “bear market” based on such an approach.

As previously mentioned by Cointelegraph, Bitcoin once saw its price below its previous highs for a period of 37 months — or about 1,125 days — between November 2013 and January 2017. For over three years, Bitcoin’s price failed to reclaim $1,000 after hitting the price mark in 2013.

After reaching $20,000 for the first time in December 2017, Bitcoin again lagged behind the price level until December 2020, or for 1,095 days. But does that mean that Bitcoin was in a “bear market” during this period at all? Looking at the charts, one could say that Bitcoin was actually on the trajectory of hitting its all-time peak of $68,000.

Bitcoin price chart between late 2017 August 2023. Source: CoinGecko

According to another bear market term interpretation, Bitcoin may not currently be in a bear market at all.

Some classic definitions suggest that a bear market happens when a market index or asset declines by 20% or more from its recent high. 

According to data from CoinGecko, Bitcoin’s most recent high occurred in mid-July 2023 at around $31,400. At current prices, Bitcoin is around 13% shy of that level. Moreover, the cryptocurrency has climbed 34% over the past year.

“If you zoom out enough, Bitcoin is just one big green candle and has been in a continuous bull market since 2019. I guess those that focus on short timeframes might be experiencing a bear market,” Jan3 CEO Samson Mow told Cointelegraph.

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The Bitcoin advocate also hinted that he sees the current market situation as “very bullish” amid contributing factors like high inflation, loss of purchasing power, spiraling debt and adoption by nation-states like El Salvador. Mow also has his own definition of a bear market:

“A bear market is what high time preference crypto investors experience periodically.”

Quantum Economics’ Greenspan supported Mow’s remarks, arguing that Bitcoin has never even been in a bear market. “Taking the longest time frame for both past occurrence and future expectations, we can however determine that Bitcoin always has and always will be in a bull market,” he stated.

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