Thomas J. Lee

Bitcoin drops during Consensus, despite Tom Lee’s call for a rally

Fundstrat chief expected a rally, got a drop instead

Consensus 2018 has come and gone and if there’s just one takeaway, it’s this: Tom Lee has some bad timing.

Fundstrat’s founder and head of research braced investors for a Consensus-based rally that just didn’t happen. On May 7, Lee wrote to his paying clients, “We expect the Consensus rally to be even larger than past years,” noting that bitcoin gained 69 percent during the Consensus 2017 and 138 percent over the following two months. Since attendance this year was already expected to be triple the 2,700 from last year, Lee argued, bitcoin should expect a big boost.


Instead, bitcoin prices tanked.

If one had taken Lee’s recommendation and had the luck to buy at the day’s low of $9,231.53 (according to CoinMarketCap data), one would have lost 8 percent by the time Conesus 2018 wrapped up at the New York Hilton Midtown on Wednesday.

Sure, Lee tempered his comments. According to Bloomberg:

“As a caveat, Lee said talk of regulations for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies could damp enthusiasm — a scenario he views as unlikely. ‘Bottom line: We expect BTC and cryptocurrencies to behave similarly to prior years and rally during Consensus,’ he wrote.”

As it turns out, bitcoin prices trended downward every day of the conference. It didn’t help that four days after Lee made his prediction, South Korean regulators raided the country’s largest crypto exchange, Upbit.

However, crypto is a volatile market and bitcoin, though the biggest and oldest, is still vulnerable to the sort of daily swings generally not found among blue chip stocks.

Lee has made some bold predictions on bitcoin in the past. In January, just a couple of weeks after record highs, Lee told an audience at CFA Institute that he expects bitcoin to hit $10 million in a couple of decades. In September, he had a $25,000 price target on bitcoin when it was then trading for $3,300.

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Lawrence Lewitinn, CFA was the founding editor in chief of Modern Consensus. Disclosure: Lewitinn owns no cryptocurrencies in his portfolio.