It may sound a little harsh to generalize along those lines, but as the saying goes: even a fool can make money in a bull market. The proof of how good a trader you are lies in how good you are navigating a bear market. This generally agreeable rule-of-thumb is applicable across all markets, not just crypto.
However, with the kind of volatility crypto usually undergoes, the risks and difficulties brought along by a crypto bear market tend to be on a much higher scale. And as we witness the possible onset of another crypto winter with most of the popular coins knee-deep in the red, it’s time we optimize our trading/investment strategies with the following tried-and-tested ways to survive crypto bear markets.
In this guide:
- What is a bear market?
- Bull vs. bear market
- What is crypto winter?
- Best strategies to overcome a bitcoin bear market
- Top 7 ways to survive a crypto bear market
- Frequently asked questions
What is a bear market?
For those out of the loop, a bear market can be best defined as a prolonged drop in asset prices, which then causes your portfolio to shed value. In a bear market, the supply of an asset is typically higher than the demand because a large chunk of investors (known as ‘bears’) starts offloading loss-making assets from their portfolio fearing further price drops.
Bull vs. bear market
A bull market is diametrically opposite to a bear market. A bull market is when the price of an asset or asset class is on the rise over a prolonged period, which then results in a spike in your portfolio valuation.
Bull markets start when investors feel confident that prices will increase and the uptrend will continue over a prolonged period. In anticipation, they start buying and holding the assets that they believe will benefit the most from the bull market.
In other words, a lot of investors are willing to buy during a bull market while few are willing to sell. Thus, the demand becomes higher than the supply and the price starts increasing. This way, investors’ predictions about bullish market conditions turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
In contrast, bear markets begin when investors are low on confidence and start believing that prices will continue falling. A few facts to note here to better highlight the bull vs bear market dynamics:
- While some investors can be bearish, the vast majority of investors are generally fundamentally bullish. Most asset classes including digital assets typically post positive return on investment (ROI) in the long run.
- Bear markets are usually short-lived compared to bull markets.
- Between the two, a bear market is more difficult to invest in and navigate because many assets rapidly shed value and prices tend to become much more volatile.
- Investors’ psychology and risk aversion play a big role in determining whether a market is bullish or bearish. However, that’s not the only factor. Supply and demand, socioeconomic stability, as well as activities in the broader financial markets also play a key role in making the market sway one way or the other.
What is crypto winter?
The most dreaded season in crypto’s short history so far, “crypto winter” refers to a prolonged bearish period during which prices of most digital assets continue to dip over several months.
The price drop in a crypto winter tends to be very steep. For example, during the last crypto winter that took place between early 2018 and mid-2020 (although estimates vary), bitcoin shed almost 88% of its value as compared to its then all-time high price.
The icy chill of the last crypto winter was felt by the broader cryptocurrency market as well. In fact, many popular coins saw up to 90–95% price drops (compared to their ATHs).
Best strategies to overcome a bitcoin bear market
Being the most popular coin (by market cap), bitcoin is kind of a trend-setter in the crypto market.
So if a crypto bear market is looming on the horizon, the first signs of it are almost always visible in bitcoin’s price movement. Other cryptocurrencies just rally behind it — so far at least. And this observation holds even during subsequent cycles when the market recovers and eventually starts a new bull run.
As of this writing, bitcoin has been in the red for several weeks in a row. The alpha-crypto has shed nearly a quarter of its value month-on-month. And as always, almost all of the major coins including the likes of ethereum, cardano, etc. have followed suit. So, yes, it would make sense to say that we are currently facing a bear market.
However, based on the data from previous bear markets, it is safe to say that bitcoin always bounces back.
So, the vast majority of experts and industry insiders are of the view that the best way to survive a bitcoin bear market is to hodl and patiently wait out the storm. Having a long-term outlook is essential as opposed to giving in to the urge to panic selling. Furthermore, try to avoid trading when the market is in a bearish phase — especially if you have little to no prior exposure to trading.
Apart from that, most of the points we’re going to discuss in the following segment are also applicable to a bitcoin bear market.
Top 7 ways to survive a crypto bear market
1. Stay calm and assess your options
Whether you see the bear market as an opportunity to buy the dip or find falling crypto prices a bit too stressful to handle, always try to keep your calm and assess the situation objectively. Emotional decisions are the ones that you will most likely regret down the road — especially if you’re trading.
First, start by asking yourself why you are invested in crypto in the first place. Do you believe in crypto’s long-term success and want to tap in on the many opportunities that it could bring along? Or are you just here to earn some quick bucks doing short-term trading?
The answer to this question could be your stepping stone to figure a way out of the bear market unscratched.
2. Don’t try to time the bottom
Nobody — absolutely nobody — can accurately predict the bottom. You could study technical and fundamental analyses all you want or listen to experts, but at the end of the day, you may still have to rely on your gut feeling while trying to time the bottom. And as you will probably agree, gut feelings are not much of an option if you’re looking for strategies to navigate a crypto bear market, or worse even, a crypto winter.
You may buy at what appears to be the bottom at a given time. However, the price could further drop. And if it does drop, you will have to sell it again to have your next shot at timing the elusive bottom. More often than not, this strategy will only cause your wallet to shrink.
3. Dollar-cost averaging (DCA)
Dollar-cost averaging, or DCA, is arguably the best strategy that is proven to have worked exceedingly well even during the toughest of bear markets. It is a simple but long-term strategy where you continue buying small amounts of an asset over a period of time regardless of the price.
For example, a DCA schedule will have you investing, say, $50 on bitcoin every week rather than investing $200 at once. You may make changes to your DCA schedule from time to time to meet your changing requirements.
So, continuing from the example above, suppose you started buying $50 worth of bitcoin every week three years ago. By now, you would have invested $7,850 in bitcoin over these three years. Now, using a DCA calculator, you will find that the total value of your investment would currently stand at $21,777. That’s a sizable gain of 177.42% percentage chain over three years.
4. Consider staking
When the going gets tough in a crypto bear market and your portfolio starts shedding value left and right, staking comes off as a good way to earn a passive income from your crypto stash. Staking basically refers to the practice of locking away your coins on a proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain for a period of time and being rewarded for it.
For those out of the loop, this detailed guide is a good place to start if you want to learn more about staking crypto. The best part about staking is that it increases the size of your wallet even in a bear market. That way, when the bull market resumes, you start with more than you had previously.
Besides, staking also lowers the possibility of panic selling because your fund is securely locked on a blockchain.
5. Avoid shorting in a crypto bear market
Shorting is a technique traders use to profit from falling crypto prices. That should ideally make it an excellent fit in a bear market when price drops are a common occurrence.
However, you would find most experts advising against shorting bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies because it could potentially lead to unlimited losses or liquidation of your position. This is a fundamental problem with shorting and no amount of experience can prepare you for the rude shocks when things go bad.
When you buy a crypto (go long), you can never really lose more than the amount you have invested. For example, say you have purchased BTC worth $100. So, the maximum you could lose from that investment is $100. On the other hand, the potential gain, at least on paper, could be limitless. Think of a scenario where the BTC price increases so much that the $100 investment returns $500, $1,000, $10,000…..and so on.
It’s just the opposite with shorting. If you short a coin at $100, the maximum you will earn from that trade is $100. However, if the price of the crypto starts increasing and the uptrend continues, your losses could pile up indefinitely. And if you short using margin, you will have to keep paying the interest charges on top of the original loss for as long as you choose to keep the position open.
6. Carefully assess the current state of the market
As of mid-2022, in the middle of the current bearish trend, bitcoin seems to have found major support near $30,000. This support is expected to hold the fort for a while given that several big institutional investors bought within this range.
Meanwhile, other indicators suggest that a big chunk of new investors who probably bought near the top have already sold most of their crypto amid fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD). Their exit from the market at this stage could further stabilize crypto prices.
The point here is that it is important to stay updated and have situational awareness about the current state of the market. This way you stand the best chance to position yourself accordingly, act quickly and minimize losses.
7. Avoid leaving your crypto on exchanges
Like they say, “not your keys, not your coins.” This is applicable in pretty much any scenario involving a centralized, custodial crypto exchange. However, the risks of irretrievably losing your funds stored in these exchanges become even bigger during a turbulent bear market.
Consider what might happen if there was a sudden market crash? Billions of dollars would be wiped out from the market, causing many exchanges to end up insolvent.
Always opt for a non-custodial wallet app or better still, a tried-and-tested hardware wallet to have full control over your crypto stash.
Crypto winters are not the end
Have no doubt in mind that as an investor or a trader, you’re bound to lose money occasionally. A 100% strike rate is practically impossible, no matter how seasoned you are in the game. However, by following the strategies discussed above, you will significantly reduce your chances of falling prey to crypto bears. Alongside, make sure to stick to the other basics such as always using stop-losses in case you are trading.
We will be updating this article periodically to bring you even more tips on how to survive crypto bear markets. Until then, wishing you all the good fortune in your trades/investments to come.
Frequently asked questions
How long does a bear market last?
There is no set time. A bear market can last anywhere between a few weeks to over a year and beyond.
Is crypto winter real?
Crypto winter is a prolonged bearish period during which prices of most digital assets continue to dip over several months. It is real.
How long does a crypto winter last?
This can only be conclusively agreed upon in hindsight. The general consensus is that the most recent crypto winter started in early-2018.
What are bear and bull markets?
A bear market refers to a prolonged drop in asset prices, which then causes your portfolio to shed value. A bull market is when the price of an asset or asset class is on the rise over a prolonged period, which then results in a spike in your portfolio valuation.
Is crypto in a bear market?
Considering how bitcoin and most of the other popular coins have been in the red for several weeks in a row until mid-2022, yes, it appears that crypto has slid into a bearish period.
What does a bear mean in crypto?
A bear in crypto means an investor who is pessimistic about the crypto market’s prospects. Bears expect crypto prices to drop in the near to medium term.
Should you hold crypto through a bear market?
Investment experts generally advise that holding on to your coins is the safest way to navigate the risk and uncertainties in a crypto bear market.
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