In an interview for CNBC’s Fast Money on Sept. 13, Lee broke with the narrative that investors buy into Bitcoin to hedge macro risks – viewing the asset as a safe-haven asset or type of digital gold.
Wall Street strategist and co-founder of Fundstrat Global Advisors Thomas Lee has argued that a strong macro outlook will provide the tailwinds for the next Bitcoin bull run.
Instead, he argued that investors buy into the cryptocurrency when they feel optimistic about the wider economy, geopolitics and industry and traditional markets are booming:
“Bitcoin has stalled recently because the macro outlook has stalled. In a world without trend, Bitcoin doesn’t go up. So I think the next big catalyst is a decisive breakout in the equity markets because once equities reach an all-time high, Bitcoin becomes a risk-on asset.”
“Bitcoin may be ambidextrous”
The strategist said that Fundstrat has recently provided its clients with an analysis indicating that over the past ten years, the three or four best performing years of the S&P 500 index have all coincided with the best years for Bitcoin. The cryptocurrency, he noted, appears to thrive when he S&P is up by more than 15%.
While Lee’s primary argument directly countered the notion that investors turn to Bitcoin as a hedge against a bleak macroeconomic climate, he didn’t discount the possibility that Bitcoin may have legs both as a risk-on and as a risk-off asset:
“Bitcoin may be ambidextrous: it works well in a risk-on world, but when you start to get nervous, then you treat it like digital gold. What we had in the summer … was a market that looked like it was on a precipice, that looked like it could fall – but it never did. And I think getting stuck in that trend was bad for Bitcoin.”
He further noted that if the equity markets do succeed in breaking out to all-time-highs and central banks remain supportive, then strong liquidity will flow into Bitcoin.
In such a scenario, he suggested, an even more important factor would be a concomitant interest in acquiring volatility, which would serve as a strong pull factor for the cryptocurrency.
As noted, Lee’s forecast breaks with an opinion prevalent among many market analysts that a growing number of investors are betting on Bitcoin as a hedge against macroeconomic and geopolitical upheaval – to offset, for example, the risks associated the protracted United States-China trade war.
In August, fresh data from Bloomberg revealed that the correlation between Bitcoin and gold had almost doubled in recent months – something that would appear to further consolidate the safe-haven asset perspective.
Parallel to this growing recognition of Bitcoin’s unique properties as a non-sovereign and secure store of value during uncertain times, analysts have also forecast positive reverberations for the Bitcoin markets in the context of central banks’ continuing policies of monetary easing.