Crypto wealth sinks $52bn in one week

So much for the Blockchain Week bounce.

With thousands of cryptocurrency diehards swarming into Manhattan for this week’s Consensus 2018 conference, the prediction from Bitcoin bulls like Tom Lee of Fundstrat Global Advisors was that the hype-filled gathering would trigger a market rally.

Alas, not even a trio of (rented) Lamborghinis, a 1,000-person yacht party and a performance by 46-year-old rapper Snoop Dogg could prevent the value of virtual currencies tracked by from sinking by $52 billion since May 11. Bitcoin, the most popular of the bunch, dropped 5.2% this week to $8,003.60 even as Arthur Hayes — the crypto exchange executive who’s firm rented the Lamborghinis — predicted a surge to $50,000 by year-end.

This week’s slump is far from extreme by crypto standards, but the market’s resistance to Blockchain Week’s ballyhoo highlights one of the arguments often cited by virtual currency pessimists: that most potential buyers have already piled in after last year’s epic surge.

While bulls point to a vast pool of pent-up demand from professional money managers, it’s far from clear that regulations in the U.S. and elsewhere will evolve in ways that attract institutional investors. Many Wall Street pros have dismissed the market as a speculative bubble, while Warren Buffett likened Bitcoin to “rat poison squared.”

For Sunny Lu, the chief executive officer of blockchain-based logistics company VeChain Tech and one of the conference speakers, this week’s losses may have been the result of unmet expectations surrounding Consensus 2018.

“The quality of projects and speakers were not really as good as expected,” Lu said. “I guess people just got disappointed.”