Latest crypto thaw has bitcoiners rejoicing

Have you checked out the price of bitcoin lately? The cryptocurrency’s price is up about 40% this year, and inching closer to its pandemic-era record of nearly $69,000 per coin.

Some of the most devoted investors in bitcoin have a credo — HODL — basically short for “hold on for dear life.” It’s a mantra to never sell your bitcoin, even when the price is in the dumps like it was for much of the past couple years.

Well those HODLers are rejoicing now.

Sean Longstreet started investing in bitcoin back in 2017, when it was around $17,000 per coin. The musician and artist has kept buying, through multiple crypto winters — those periods when bitcoin crashed to disconcerting lows.

“When things go down, you have to lie on your conviction, and there’s a phrase, ‘when there’s blood on the streets you buy.’ So I did not sell, I just cried and held on to it,” he said.

Longstreet won’t tell me how much he owns in bitcoin — that’s a taboo question for bitcoiners — but he says he does own more crypto than he does stock.

And while it may be tempting to tell skeptical friends and family ‘I told you so,’ he’s learned to resist that urge.

“It causes too much strain if you try to onboard your family and something, something bad happens,” he said.

The latest bitcoin surge is mostly due to the SEC’s approval of bitcoin exchange traded funds, or ETFs for short. ETFs allow big and small investors to put money into bitcoin, without having to touch a crypto wallet or actually understand the blockchain.

Ryan Rasmussen is a researcher at Bitwise Asset Management. More than a billion dollars have poured into their bitcoin ETF.

“Now anyone can open their brokerage account, and with the click of a button allocate to bitcoin. This was kind of like bitcoin’s IPO moment,” he said.

Pensions and hedge funds and mom-and-pop traders are saying, ‘sure, I’ll dip my toe in that bitcoin IPO,’ especially while the price goes up.

But Lee Reiners at the Duke Financial Economics Center said more mainstream financial actors getting in on crypto carries risk when the next bitcoin winter inevitably comes.

“Now you sort of created a interstate freeway that’s connecting the traditional financial system with the crypto economy, such that a problem in one could easily spill into the other,” he said.

For his part, bitcoiner Sean Longstreet agrees another downturn will come at some point, but he’s not planning on selling anytime soon.

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