For years now, analysts have been trying to assess the demand-supply dynamics and performance of the world’s oldest cryptocurrency bitcoin in comparison with other commodities like crude oil and copper.
Since its launch in 2009, bitcoin has only seen an increase in its demand, and it now has the largest market capitalisation among cryptocurrencies. In fact, as pointed out in a recent report by Bloomberg senior commodity strategist, Mike McGlone, one bitcoin is now worth more than 500 barrels of crude oil, and about 4.4 tons of copper. Less than a decade ago, the same bitcoin’s value was lower than a barrel of oil, or merely a fraction of copper.
Last year, McGlone was among the first Wall Street analysts to predict bitcoin’s journey to $50,000. The analyst now estimates the legacy coin to hit $100,000. “I think it’s transitioning from a risk-on to a risk-off asset,” McGlone had said in a Wolf Of All Streets podcast recently, adding that he “thinks Bitcoin will come out better off” after the period of policy upheaval.
While bitcoin stopped short of touching $70,000 in its last rally, retreating from a peak of $69,000 in November 2021 to under $45,000 now, the uptrend is expected to resume soon.
“Supply, demand, adoption and advancing technology point to the crypto continuing to outperform fossil fuel in the next 10 years,” McGlone wrote.
Other commodities have seen a significant change in their demand and supply dynamics. The West Texas Intermediate crude, for instance, has shed 20 percent over the last year due to demand-supply imbalance. While its demand exceeded supply by nearly 6 million barrels in 2012, it has now reversed to surplus of 3 million barrels a day. This imbalance in the demand and supply is largely because it is now cheaper to extract large volumes of oil when compared with the expenses incurred in 2012. Similarly, for copper, slowing Chinese demand has hampered price.
But, as McGlone noted, bitcoin comes with a “lack of supply elasticity”. Bitcoin creator(s) had set a hard cap of 21 million coins. This means only a total of 21 million coins will ever be mined and the pace at which they will be mined is also pre-determined. So irrespective of the demand, the coin’s supply remains unaffected even if the price rises.
"Copper may be a good example of the low potential for a commodity supercycle, notably versus an advancing bitcoin," McGlone wrote. "It's not that profound to expect one of the best-performing assets of the past decade to keep outpacing the old-guard industrial metal, and we see bitcoin's upper hand gaining endurance, and maturity, versus copper."
But given the highly volatile nature of the cryptocurrency and the regulatory challenges for the technology, some experts are sceptical about its future. US investment company Invesco has warned bitcoin could tumble below $30,000 this year as the air comes out of the crypto bubble, per a Business Insider report. In a note released Monday listing "improbable but possible" outcomes for 2022, Invesco’s global head of asset allocation Paul Jackson said, "The mass marketing of bitcoin reminds us of the activity of stockbrokers in the run-up to the 1929 crash."
"We think it is not too much of a stretch to imagine bitcoin falling below $30,000 this year," Jackson said, adding he believes there is at least a 30 percent chance of it happening.
(Edited by : Aditi Gautam)
First Published: IST