Recent sustained sideways movement is now a noticeable list to starboard and is looking increasingly in danger of becoming a mildly-alarming wedge. Rewind to just ten days ago and you would be hard-pressed to find anyone able to have forecasted the pattern we’re seeing right now. But a pattern it is, and an eyebrow-raising one at that. If ever the question of who would win in a straight fight – a bull or a bear – has ever crossed your mind, look no further than the cryptocurrency markets right now.
Only last week some bullish trading efforts were delivering hope for a strong finish to a year which had more or less been a watching-paint-dry-experience for the best part of 11 months.
Neither bull nor bear seemed terribly concerned about summoning the strength to exchange blows.
But, to continue the metaphor, the bull seemingly doesn’t quite know what’s hit it this last week as it was repeatedly knocked down.
Credit where it is due though, like a defiant Tyson Fury, Bitcoin keeps prizing itself off the canvas to get on its feet time and time again, albeit with a little less of itself after each knockdown.
It looked out for the count on $4,000 at the start of the week before gaining again to almost $4,400.
It was then on the ropes by the middle of the week, fought bravely to cling on to $3,800, but was back on its knees at a very weak-looking $3,400 late last night.
By this morning, Bitcoin was a bruised and groggy shadow of itself bouncing dangerously between the $3,300 mark and $3,400 as the short vultures descended.
And here’s where that worrying pattern begins to trigger alarm bells.
If you’ve never heard of the Bart pattern, don’t blush. Few have.
It’s not a term that is bandied about in mainstream markets.
It is, however something of a murky utterance in the darker corners of unregulated cryptocurrency.
Put simply, the pattern begins with a sharp upward trend as short traders close their leveraged positions, before juddering along a sideways movement punctuated with rapid yet shallow ups and downs.
It ends with a sharp fall, and a mark down which quickly catches many investors out.
In even more simple terms, it’s known as the Bart pattern purely because it resembles a silhouette of the top of Bart Simpson’s head.
Amusing as that may seem, it’s worth keeping in mind because it represents a market condition peppered with potential traps.
We’ve already seen a couple of ‘inverse Barts’ these last few days, which makes trying to anticipate Bitcoin’s next move all the more difficult as they often signal a rally.
However, that steepening incline is making a bounce up seem ever more unlikely.
Couple that with the trend of all the other major coins out there which are slipping away at a worrying rate (ethereum yesterday falling below $100, for instance) and you can’t help but get the feeling that Bitcoin won’t be starting the new year on a high note.
For all the volatility currently creating doom and gloom around the markets, it’s worth noting that there’s often always a surprise around the corner.
But, if you still feel like throwing the towel in on this fight, just remember that everyone loves an underdog, and if bitcoin was called Rocky we’d all still be rooting for an almighty twelfth-round comeback.