Are Bitcoin Bubbles Predictable? Combining a Generalized Metcalfe's Law and the LPPLS Model
22 Pages Posted: 16 Mar 2018 Last revised: 22 Mar 2018
Date Written: March 15, 2018
We develop a strong diagnostic for bubbles and crashes in bitcoin, by analyzing the coincidence (and its absence) of fundamental and technical indicators. Using a generalized Metcalfe’s law based on network properties, a fundamental value is quantified and shown to be heavily exceeded, on at least four occasions, by bubbles that grow and burst. In these bubbles, we detect a universal super-exponential unsustainable growth. We model this universal pattern with the Log-Periodic Power Law Singularity (LPPLS) model, which parsimoniously captures diverse positive feedback phenomena, such as herding and imitation. The LPPLS model is shown to provide an ex-ante warning of market instabilities, quantifying a high crash hazard and probabilistic bracket of the crash time consistent with the actual corrections; although, as always, the precise time and trigger (which straw breaks the camel’s back) being exogenous and unpredictable. Looking forward, our analysis identifies a substantial but not unprecedented overvaluation in the price of bitcoin, suggesting many months of volatile sideways bitcoin prices ahead (from the time of writing, March 2018).
Keywords: Bitcoin, crypto-currencies, bubble, prediction, Metcalfe law, log-periodic power law singularity, LPPLS, Johansen-Ledoit-Sornette
JEL Classification: C53, E47, G01, G17
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation