Bitcoin Boom

Both Ether and Bitcoin prices are trading at a record high right now, and no one is entirely sure what is happening in the world of cryptocurrency that's pushing this surge. According to the Coindesk price index, bitcoin peaked today, May 1, at $1,444. That high represents an increase of approximately 12 percent over the course of 7 days, part of an increase of 33 percent over the month of April.

Bitcoin prices in USD. Credit: WorldCoinIndex
Ether is booming even more; Today, it peaked at $84.57, up from $51.37 the week before. This was a jump of around 65 percent in a single week. And while Ether and Bitcoin prices are somewhat connected since people often trade Bitcoins against Ethers, that correlation doesn't really explain why Ether is jumping this much — especially since it has been less than one year since the June 2016 hack into the Decentralized Autonomous Organization and the hard fork response in July.

Ether prices in USD. Credit: WorldCoinIndex
This isn't the first time Bitcoin has seen a rise in value. In 2016, Bitcoin achieved a value above $1,000, growing by 125 percent. This was the first time it crossed that threshold since 2013. By early February of this year, bitcoin prices had surged for several weeks in a row, benefiting from political uncertainty surrounding the Trump presidency. By late February, bitcoin prices broke records again, and by early March bitcoin was valued higher than gold — another first.

Rethinking Economic Security

Romain Dillet of TechCrunch has noted that Bitcoin and Ether prices tend to rise when the world is receiving bad news: “If Donald Trump tweets about North Korea, chances are it will have positive effect on cryptocurrencies. Conversely, I noticed a micro-crash minutes after the results of the first round of the French election — prices went up again minutes later. Marine Le Pen arrived second, which was a good sign for traditional currencies like USD and EUR.”

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This trend reflects the evolution of how we think about money and what it means to keep money safe. As the political outlook appears less predictable and governments seem more unstable and even corrupt, cryptocurrencies are considered a safer investment than traditional currencies and markets. They are not tied to any one government or political system, and they offer a verifiable trail so investors can watch what happens to their money.

In times when governments can look more incompetent or untrustworthy than consumers prefer, at least we can depend on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

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