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The Media Hasn’t Been Entirely Fair to Bukele’s Bitcoin Gambit

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Most members of the media have considered the negative components of President Nayib Bukele’s Bitcoin Gambit in El Salvador. It is true that the value of Bitcoin has tumbled since the president first bet big on the cryptocurrency. It is true that the IMF and lenders look at the country’s economic policy with extreme distrust, and agencies have dropped the country’s credit rating. It is true that the country has over a billion dollars in debt payments due over the next twelve months. If you look at how things have played out this far, you could say that it hasn’t quite gone as Bukele has hoped. In fact, many have said that.

But, let’s be pragmatic. Estimates show that the country has spent $374 on the Bitcoin gambit, in totality. A $50 million unrealized loss on Bitcoin holdings, in a country with a $29 billion economy, is less than a half percent of the national budget. But that unrealized loss is unrealized for a reason. President Bukele is doubling down on Bitcoin. He’s even bought the dip. He understands that this drawback is due to macroeconomic conditions, not the least of which being staggering inflation due to massive pandemic-related spending packages. Then, there’s an unpredictable war in Eastern Europe, not to mention the ongoing supply chain issues, still lingering from Covid shutdowns.

Those things have rained hellfire onto the digital assets space, but so, too, have they affected the traditional markets. The Dow Jones lost 1100 points in a single day of trading last month. Bukele knows that Bitcoin will bounce back. His investment in Bitcoin is one which is long-term. That said, he’s up for re-election in 2024 and continues to boast high approval ratings, thanks, in part, to his tough-on-crime stances.

The truth is that the economy in El Salvador has long been plagued by unfavorable conditions. The country has long paid a premium for its debt. In the country’s most recent credit downgrade, Fitch maligned the country’s “uncertain access to multilateral funding and external market financing given high borrowing costs,” in addition to its “limited scope for additional local market financing.”

But, let’s consider that. El Salvador has long had precious few major opportunities. Through the Bukele’s Bitcoin Gambit, the country has re-emerged on the global scene. While the move to Bitcoin was aimed at bringing the majority unbanked population into the modern financial scene, that takes time and consumer education. What the country has seen, immediately, is external interest. That, in and of itself, is significant, considering that, not long ago, El Salvador was more dangerous than Afghanistan.

Gambit — a term that many may only be familiar with from the recent Netflix hit, The Queen’s Gambit. But the definition, in part, says: an “opening remark, typically one entailing a degree of risk, that is calculated to gain an advantage.” Bukele put his country on the map again. Sure, there are real risks. Significant risks. It may well be the final nail in the country’s bid for a billion-plus dollar loan from the IMF. However, he has propelled El Salvador into the spotlight, creating a culture of innovation which is tech friendly and forward focused. Unfortunately, Bukele’s gambit launched right before a massive downturn in the markets, driven by investor fear. However, the cause doesn’t matter. Whether Bukele will be regarded as a forward-thinking leader is entirely dependent on Bitcoin’s turnaround.

There’s little doubt that Bitcoin will, indeed, turn around. But, timing is everything. Until then, there’s much to be said for the tourism boost that the tiny Central American country has received. Tourism is up 30% since Bitcoin became legal tender. The administration has planned a Bitcoin City, complete with mining powered by a volcano. Granted, the project is on hold due to market conditions, but El Salvador has a number of irons in the fire that they didn’t have three years ago.

In their cryptocurrency wallet rollout, only 20% of users continued to use the wallet after they spent their $30 in Bitcoin given to them by the government, but many argue that was due in large part to a poor user experience within the wallet. There’s a great deal that the country must work on, even within the master Bitcoin plan. Beyond it, it must find a way to begin to balance their budgets and continue to lower crime rates. However, if Bitcoin bounces back, and if the country can bring in significant external investments, many may look back at this gambit in a positive light. There are many opportunities to exploit, once the market begins to correct. In addition to the tourism angle and the mining apparatus, if the country continues to work on its economic fundamentals and infrastructure, it could see interest as a jurisdiction which is friendly to fintech and other cutting-edge innovations.

Sure, there’s a lot of risk here. And President Bukele has suffered the consequences of pretty poor timing. However, the gambit isn’t over until his political shelf-life wears out. And, right now, it doesn’t appear that will be in the near-term.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Bitcoin Eyes Gains with Seasonal July Boost After Slump

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After several months of declines and rangebound trading, Bitcoin (BTC) bulls have reason to cheer as the largest cryptocurrency is poised for a potential seasonal upswing this July.

Historical data and recent market movements suggest a positive outlook for Bitcoin, following a period marked by billions in sales, upcoming selling pressure, and outflows from exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Since April, Bitcoin has been trading within a narrow band of $59,000 to $74,000, weighed down by market dynamics and peak negative sentiment among retail traders.

However, July has historically been a bullish month for Bitcoin, and early indicators show a possible reversal of recent trends.

On the first day of July, U.S.-listed ETFs recorded nearly $130 million in inflows, their highest since early June.

This influx comes after a significant $900 million outflow in the previous month, signaling renewed investor confidence in the cryptocurrency.

“Bitcoin has a median return of 9.6% in July and tends to bounce back strongly, especially after a negative June,” said Singapore-based QCP Capital in a recent Telegram broadcast.

“Our options desk saw flows positioning for an upside move last Friday into the month-end, possibly in anticipation of the ETH spot ETF launch. Many signs point to a bullish July.”

Historical data supports this optimistic outlook. Over the past decade, Bitcoin has gained an average of more than 11% in July, with positive returns in seven out of the ten months.

A 2023 report by crypto fund Matrixport highlighted significant July returns in recent years, with gains of around 27% in 2019, 20% in 2020, and 24% in 2021.

Seasonality, the tendency of assets to experience regular and predictable changes that recur annually, appears to be a driving factor.

These seasonal cycles can be influenced by various factors, such as profit-taking around tax season in April and May, leading to drawdowns, and the generally bullish “Santa Claus” rally in December, which reflects increased demand.

As the cryptocurrency market enters July, Bitcoin traders and investors are optimistic about a potential rally. While the market remains cautious of underlying pressures, the historical trends and recent inflows suggest a favorable environment for Bitcoin’s resurgence.

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Bitcoin Slumps 13% in Q2, Prompting Investor Concerns

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As the second quarter of 2024 concludes, cryptocurrency investors are left contemplating the future of Bitcoin after the leading digital currency retreated significantly from its all-time highs.

Bitcoin, which had previously soared to a record $73,798 in mid-March, has seen a sharp decline, closing the quarter at approximately $61,000.

This represents a 13% drop since March, a stark contrast to the substantial gains of 67% and 57% in the previous two quarters, respectively.

The downturn has spurred concerns among investors about the broader implications for risk appetite in financial markets, particularly as the prospect of higher-for-longer interest rates looms.

This sentiment was echoed by Austin Reid, Global Head of Revenue and Business at FalconX, who noted, “A lot of people in the market have questions that are mostly anchored on concerns from a macro perspective. I think there’s just some short-term uncertainty being reflected within the crypto market, as we’re seeing in some other asset classes too.”

One of the clearest indicators of waning interest in Bitcoin is the significant slowdown in demand for U.S. exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that hold the cryptocurrency. These funds, approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission in January, saw a flood of interest initially.

However, the second quarter saw inflows of just $2.6 billion into Bitcoin funds, a sharp decline from the $13 billion recorded in the first quarter, according to data from CoinShares.

“There was a lot of euphoria around the release of the ETFs, and then there was a natural price correction after the rally,” said Matthew O’Neill, Co-Director of Research at Financial Technology Partners.

He explained that the ETFs initially attracted professional investors who wanted Bitcoin exposure but preferred to do so through institutional means.

The reduced inflows into Bitcoin ETFs may reflect a broader hesitation among investors to re-enter the market amid current uncertainties. For those who haven’t yet bought into the ETFs, O’Neill suggests they might be waiting for the next upward price move before committing.

Despite the current downturn, the longer-term outlook for Bitcoin remains a topic of debate. While some analysts see the recent price correction as a temporary setback in an overall bullish trend, others warn that the cryptocurrency market could face more significant challenges ahead, particularly if macroeconomic conditions remain unstable.

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Bitcoin Slumps to One-Month Low as Crypto Market Loses Steam

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The cryptocurrency market is facing a turbulent period, marked by significant declines and waning investor confidence.

Bitcoin, the leading digital asset, has dropped to a one-month low, trading at approximately $62,275 as of Monday morning in London.

This decline is part of a broader downturn in the crypto market, which has seen its second-worst weekly performance of 2024.

The overall gauge of the largest 100 digital assets fell by about 5% over the past week, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

This represents the worst decline since April and highlights the growing concerns among investors regarding the future of digital currencies.

A key factor contributing to this downturn is the cooling demand for Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Over the past six days, U.S. Bitcoin ETFs have experienced a consistent outflow of funds, undermining the confidence of investors who were hoping for a steady influx of capital into these investment vehicles.

This has compounded the already existing uncertainties surrounding the cryptocurrency market.

Adding to the market’s woes is the prevailing uncertainty over the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy.

Speculation about the Fed’s ability to cut interest rates from their current two-decade high has created a cloud of doubt over the entire financial market, including cryptocurrencies.

Analysts suggest that this uncertainty is dampening broader risk appetite, with investors becoming increasingly cautious about their investments in volatile assets like Bitcoin.

David Lawant, the head of research at FalconX, noted that the current crypto market dynamic is “characterized by low volatility, soft volumes, and order books getting unbalanced when prices start to move to the edges of their range.”

This imbalance has made the market more susceptible to sharp declines, as seen in the recent slump.

The declines in other major cryptocurrencies are also noteworthy. Ether and Solana have experienced their longest streaks of weekly declines since last year and 2022, respectively.

This comes despite preparations by fund companies to launch the first U.S. ETFs that invest directly in Ether, the second-ranked crypto asset. Solana, once a favorite among digital-asset hedge funds, has also seen significant drops.

Bitcoin, which hit a record high of $73,798 in March, is now trailing behind traditional assets such as stocks, bonds, and gold this quarter.

Analysts are now focusing on the 200-day moving average, currently at around $57,500, as a potential zone of support for Bitcoin’s price.

Tony Sycamore, a market analyst at IG Australia Pty, suggests that this level could provide some stability in the coming weeks.

As the cryptocurrency market navigates through these challenges, investors and analysts alike are keeping a close watch on any developments that could influence the market’s direction.

For now, the sentiment remains cautious, with many waiting to see if the recent declines will continue or if a recovery is on the horizon.

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