Bitcoin has yet to redefine the global payments system. But it could raise questions about how to define a bear market. Stock strategists — and financial journalists — typically use a 20 percent tumble from a high as the trigger for calling a bear market. Bitcoin at one point on Wednesday met that description, according to Bloomberg’s composite price. The low for the day was 20 percent below the record, set way back … on Monday. It marks the first time for bitcoin to slide into bear-market territory since last month. There have now been three bear-market dips for bitcoin just since August.
By contrast, the S&P 500 Index of stocks last saw a bear market in 2009. When Wells Fargo & Co., the American bank with a market capitalization roughly the size of bitcoin, last saw a bear market for its shares the drop took more than a year to materialize — from July 2015 to October 2016. The latest bitcoin slide comes amid a whirlwind of news in crypto-land, including a rising profile for rival bitcoin cash and the bankruptcy of a South Korean exchange that suffered a cyber attack. For those who bought at the start of the year, the consolation for being in a bear market is that they’re still up more than 1,600 percent.