Bitcoin’s still struggling to gain acceptance

Bitcoin’s still struggling to gain acceptance

An attendee wears a T-shirt with the logo of Bitcoin during the Bitcoin Conference 2023, in Miami Beach, Florida, U.S., May 19, 2023. 

Marco Bello | Reuters

This report is from today’s CNBC Daily Open, our new, international markets newsletter. CNBC Daily Open brings investors up to speed on everything they need to know, no matter where they are. Like what you see? You can subscribe here.

What you need to know today

Disappointing data depressed markets
U.S. markets were closed Monday for Labor Day. Asia-Pacific markets fell Tuesday as regional economic data came in downbeat. China’s Shanghai Composite lost 0.72% as the country’s service sector logged its slowest expansion in eight months, according to a Caixin survey. South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.13% after inflation in the country rose 3.4% year on year, more than July’s 2.3%.

A presidential G20 campaign
India’s the current president of the G20. It’s usually a passive role — but under Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the G20 presidency has turned into a nonstop branding campaign for India. However, the lack of a joint communique among the G20 — because of objections from Russia and China — is threatening India’s credibility as a key geopolitical player and Modi’s domestic messaging.

Overinvestment in China
China is “overinvested,” said Jitania Kandhari, a managing director and deputy chief investment officer at Morgan Stanley. That means the country’s economy is laden with too much debt and an oversupply of goods, such as in its embattled real estate sector. By contrast, India is underinvested, Kandhari said, giving its economy and markets investment opportunities.

Chinese EVs muscling in on Europe
The IAA in Munich, Germany is one of Europe’s most high-profile auto shows. But the most prominent exhibitors there were Chinese electric vehicle firms looking to expand their presence on the continent. Companies like Leapmotor, BYD and Xpeng planned expansions into the euro zone, challenging incumbents like BMW, Ford and Mercedes.

[PRO] Where to invest $50,000 now
September’s historically the worst month for stocks. So where should investors put $50,000 this month? CNBC Pro’s Weizhen Tan asked portfolio managers and other investors for their tips — and checked in with the pros who gave their advice in June to find out what part of their investment strategy — if anything — they would change.

The bottom line

If charting the trajectory of interest rates in the U.S. economy is like “navigating by the stars under cloudy skies,” as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell put it in his Jackson Hole speech, then predicting the movement of stocks is like doing so when the stars are snuffed out. As for forecasting the price of bitcoin? Add a blindfold to the intrepid navigator.

Let’s look at two predictions made earlier this year.

At the optimistic end of the spectrum is Geoff Kendrick, head of crypto research at Standard Chartered, who wrote in an April note that bitcoin’s value could jump to as much as $100,000 by the end of 2024.

On the other hand, longtime bitcoin bull Chamath Palihapitiya, who said two years ago that bitcoin has replaced gold and would rocket to $200,000, changed his tune. “Crypto is dead in America,” Palihapitiya said.

What do the numbers tell us? As of publication time, bitcoin is trading at $25,699. On Jan. 1, it was at $16,606, so bitcoin’s up around 55% this year. That suggests bitcoin has legs. But if we take a longer-term view, the current price of the digital currency is about 62% lower than its all-time high of $68,990 reached in November 2021.

Adding to the confusion, bitcoin sometimes tracks the movement of stocks because it’s seen to benefit from a booming economy; bitcoin sometimes trades inversely with stocks because some consider it a safe haven in times of uncertainty. The story here, then, is that bitcoin is wildly volatile — and it’s impossible to prove or dismantle either prediction, at this point.

Still, investors are optimistic about bitcoin because a U.S. court recently sided with Grayscale in a lawsuit against the SEC, which denied the company’s application to convert its bitcoin trust into an ETF. That means bitcoin ETFs from major companies are on their way, allowing retail investors to trade the cryptocurrency without actually owning it. The price of bitcoin rallied more than 7% when news broke last Tuesday.

But the SEC has also delayed a decision on bitcoin ETFs, pausing the short-lived bitcoin bull charge. For August, bitcoin fell 10%.

And so it goes.