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Bitcoin’s Price Falls Nearly 5% As It Struggles to Hold Above $20,000. Here’s How Investors Should React

A photo to accompany a story about Bitcoin's big crash Getty Images
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Bitcoin’s price fell nearly 5% over the last week as it tries to hold above $20,000. The largest crypto has been showing short-term signs of recovery since it dropped below $18,000 Saturday — its lowest price since December 2020.

The leading crypto has been trading in a relatively tight range between $17,000 and $22,000 over the last few weeks as crypto and stock markets have struggled to regain any notable upward momentum following May’s inflation report and Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates by 0.75%. Experts also point to the continuous war in Ukraine and inflation hitting a fresh 40-year high for why we’re seeing slumping prices in the stock and crypto markets.

The crypto market has been increasingly tracking the stock market lately, which makes it even more intertwined with macroeconomic factors, experts say. Ethereum has followed a similar pattern.

And it could get uglier with bitcoin’s price going below $20,000, according to Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at foreign-exchange brokerage Oanda.

Now that bitcoin has dropped below $20,000, “support might not emerge until the $17,000 level,” Moya says. “Another crypto plunge might not see major support until the 2019 summer high around the $14,000 level.”

Bitcoin hasn’t been above $50,000 since Dec. 25, 2021. Despite the ups and downs, Bitcoin’s price has seen a nearly 70% drop in value since its all-time high above $68,000 on Nov. 10, set back by surging inflation, lagging recovery in the job market, and the Fed’s ongoing signals that it would begin winding down pandemic measures to support the economy.

Bitcoin’s price has been between $19,000 and $22,000 so far this week. Here’s how Bitcoin’s current price compares to its daily high point over the past few months:

One Week Ago (June 16)One Month Ago (May 23)3 Months Ago (March 23)
$19,047.42$29,346.78$46,715.12

Though it has had a slow start to the year, Bitcoin still entered 2022 on a relatively high note, with a strong November and early December that gave way to the recent downward trend. After starting 2021 in the $30,000 range, Bitcoin increased throughout the year and hit its current all-time high when it went over $68,000 on Nov. 10.

Despite falling back significantly from its latest all-time high price, many experts still expect Bitcoin’s price to rise above $100,000 at some point — describing it as a matter of when, not if. Shortly after Bitcoin’s latest all-time high in November, Ethereum marked its own new all-time high when its price went over $4,850. Ethereum has seen similar volatility following the latest high.

Bitcoin hit its first high of the year in 2021 when it went above $60,000 in April, and the price movement since then highlights the cryptocurrency’s volatility in a time when more and more people are interested in getting in on the action. In the weeks between a July low point that took it below $30,000 and its most recent high point in November, Bitcoin swung wildly up and down. The future of cryptocurrency is sure to include plenty more volatility, and experts say this is all par for the course.

We’ve talked to investing experts and financial advisors who advise against sinking much of your portfolio into the asset class for this very reason. They work with clients to make sure volatile crypto investments aren’t getting in the way of other financial priorities, like saving an emergency fund and paying off high-interest debt. 

“You have a high chance of losing it all, but a small chance of winning it big,” says Nate Nieri, a CFP with Modern Money Management in San Diego, California. “Don’t gamble an amount that would burden your family or prevent you from achieving your goals” if you lost it all, he says.

How does this latest crash compare to previous ones, or even to regular stock market drops — and what does it mean for investors? 

What Does This Price Drop Mean for Crypto Investors?

For those who invest in crypto for the long-term using a buy-and-hold strategy, price swings are to be expected. Big dips are nothing to be overly worried about, according to Humphrey Yang, the personal finance expert behind Humphrey Talks, who says he avoids checking his own investments during volatile market dips.

“I’ve been through the 2017 cycle, too,” Yang says, referencing the “crypto crash” of 2017 that saw many major cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, lose major value. “I know that these things are super volatile, like some days they can go down 80%.”

Experts recommend keeping your cryptocurrency investments to under 5% of your portfolio. If you’ve done that, then don’t stress about the swings, because they’re going to keep happening, according to Bill Noble, chief technical analyst at Token Metrics, a cryptocurrency analytics platform.

“Volatility is as old as the hills, and it’s not going anywhere,” Noble says. “It’s something you have to deal with.”

As long as your crypto investments don’t stand in the way of your other financial goals and you’ve only put in what you’re ultimately OK with losing, Yang recommends using the same strategy that works for all long-term investments: set it and forget it. 

If this type of extreme drop bothers you, you may have too much riding on your crypto investments. You should only invest what you’re OK losing. But even if the drop is making you rethink your crypto allocations, the same advice still stands — don’t act rashly or upend your strategy too quickly. Reconsider what you might be more comfortable with going forward, such as allocating less to crypto in the future or diversifying through crypto-related stocks and blockchain funds rather than directly buying crypto (though you should still expect volatility when cryptocurrency markets fluctuate).

“Don’t check on it. That’s the best thing you can do. If you let your emotions get too much into it then you might sell at the wrong time, make the wrong decision,” says Yang.

What If You’re Interested in Crypto, But Haven’t Yet Invested?

Yang’s set it and forget it approach to crypto reflects his philosophy for investing in the traditional stock market, but some experts feel cryptocurrency is too different from traditional investments to draw any historical comparisons. That’s why A’Shira Nelson of Savvy Girl Money is staying well away.

Nelson primarily invests in low-cost index funds because “I can see history on that,” she says. The newness of cryptocurrency and lack of trackable data make her wary of these crazy swings. 

Potential investors looking to buy the dip should understand that fluctuations are par for the course, and be prepared for this kind of volatility going forward.  Even if you invest now, with prices relatively low, be prepared for them to fall even more. Again, only put in what you’re comfortable with losing — after you’ve covered other financial priorities, like emergency savings and more traditional retirement funds.

What’s Behind the Latest Bitcoin Drop? 

Many investors see Bitcoin’s price swings as part of the game, but “volatility is tough for individual investors to deal with,” Noble says. Like Yang, he warns against selling too fast.

Recent price fluctuation has followed surging inflation, ongoing uncertainty over the country’s lingering fight with COVID-19 and new regulatory actions by the U.S. government, including Biden’s recent executive order. In an industry as new and unproven as cryptocurrency, it doesn’t take much to drive big swings in price. More generally, new short-term investors who are selling their holdings in reaction to the latest drop may be contributing to the drop in Bitcoin’s value, according to a report from Glassnode Insights, a blockchain analysis firm.

While fluctuations are expected, Noble says he’s been surprised by some of the recent big drops. “I thought the market was maturing and these things would be less frequent and severe. Boy was I wrong,” he says. 

Some of the drops have been caused by a combination of factors, Noble theorizes, from excitement about low-quality coins, to negative remarks from Elon Musk, to China’s recent crackdown on crypto services. This mix of factors has potential to make sell-offs “all the more violent,” says Noble. 

He likens the drop to the stock market crash of 1987, from which the markets took months to recover. But because crypto moves a lot faster today than equities did in the 1980s, Noble says we may see a quicker recovery. 

“Don’t panic and puke,” Noble says. “If you keep your positions small, you can try to tolerate the volatility.”

Former NextAdvisor reporter Ryan Haar contributed.