Is Crypto on the Cusp of a Bull or Bear Market? Using Consensus 2024 as a Barometer

The question on everyone’s mind at Consensus 2024 seems to be: How the hell should we be describing the current market sentiment? Are we in a bull market? A bear market? On the cusp of another bull market? Teetering again on the edge of collapse?

Note: The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of CoinDesk, Inc. or its owners and affiliates. This is an excerpt from The Node newsletter, a daily roundup of the most pivotal crypto news on CoinDesk and beyond. You can subscribe to get the full newsletter here.

Since the launch of bitcoin exchange-traded funds earlier this year, bitcoin has regained and even surpassed the all-time high it set during the heady days of the 2021 bull market. But for weeks and weeks and weeks it seems like, at best, the biggest crypto has been trading sideways.

By and large, there have been many positive developments for crypto in recent months. The European Union, after passing MiCA last year, is beginning to see traction in its domestic crypto market while other global hubs like Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates and countries across the Caribbean have also been advancing meaningful legislation

And perhaps more importantly, it finally seems like regulatory gridlock in the U.S. is beginning to ease up. The House recently passed the Financial Innovation and Technology for the 21st Century Act (FIT21) last week, marking the furthest a crypto-specific bill has ever gone in legislatively. Meanwhile, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission did a U-turn on Ether ETFs.

It would seem like conditions are in place for a breakout, but so far it remains unclear exactly what crypto’s future is.

“Call me cautiously optimistic,” Adam Roberts of the institutional MPC wallet told CoinDesk in an interview on the showroom floor. “The ETH ETF approval is sign of change, but it’s not enough to re-catalyze things.”

“Ask me in two days and I’ll have a better answer,” Roberts added. “Based on how fast the coffee went – that’s a good indicator.”

It was a point echoed by Roberts’ colleague Steve Horvath, who joked about using Consensus 2024 as a barometer for market sentiment.

“Based on the crowd – no bear, no bull,” Horvath said.

Micha Benoliel, co-founder and CEO of Nodle, is a little more optimistic about the recent regulatory shifts, noting that the SEC’s heavy handed approach to crypto oversight has driven a lot of firms abroad and made it difficult to run a business domestically.

If all goes well, “that alone should create a new bull market since the U.S. remains the largest crypto market in the world,” Benoliel said.

Amanda Wick, founder and CEO of the Association for Women in Crypto and a former Department of Justice prosecutor, is likewise optimistic this year, having looked around the conference floor and seeing signs of a maturing industry.

“Consensus this year compared to last year felt like night and day,” said Wick. “The maturation was evident in the conversations, the speakers, the sponsors and the intentional inclusion of groups that are working to make the industry more diverse,” she added, noting the outreach done this year to include diversity groups like LGBTQ+ advocates at Web Q. “The industry’s best chance at sustaining a bull run is through maturation and increased integrity, and Consensus this year clearly reflects a positive move in that direction,” she concluded.

Indeed, it may not be exactly clear whether crypto is on the cusp of another bull or bear market – but with any luck it has learned to avoid what brought it down last time.


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