Howdy, the halving is still more than a month away (estimated), but bitcoin price has broken its prior record. It's unprecedented!

๐Ÿšจ Situational awareness: Bitcoin price hit $73,604 last night as ETFs broke over $1 billion of inflows in a single day (mostly to BlackRock).

Today's newsletter is 1,327 words, a 5-minute read.

๐Ÿฅ‘ 1 big thing: 2024's weird high

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

The all-time high for bitcoin price should not have hit yet, according to an eerily consistent time analysis of its three prior cycles, Brady writes.

The big picture: It's an article of faith among certain bitcoiners that the coin's cycle runs in four-year intervals, triggered primarily by Bitcoin's regularly scheduled halving.

Catch up fast: Satoshi made Bitcoin to express a preference for a predictable form of money with a fixed supply, so there will only ever be 21 million bitcoins (19.6 million are in the market today).

  • A few get released every time a block of transactions gets stamped onto the blockchain โ€” every 10 minutes โ€” and go to the miner that solved that block.
  • That subsidy is 6.25 new bitcoin (BTC) per block, valued today at over $400,000. With the next halving, sometime in April, that will drop all at once to 3.125 BTC.
  • Four years later, it will be halved again, and again four years after that, until eventually there's no new BTC (but we will all be dead by then).
Data: CoinGecko and CoinMarketCap; Chart: Axios Visuals

Follow the money: The first halving hit in November 2012, when BTC was $12.20, then, 366 days later, the first all-time high to make the news hit: $1,127 (a more than 90X gain).

  • If you look at the table above, you can see: After each high, BTC price has eventually fallen to a bottom well below the high. That lowest-low (the nadir) marks a turnaround.

The intrigue: Then there's this crazy consistency for the next two halvings. Twice, from nadir to all-time high it's about 1,065 days (1,062 and 1,068).

  • From halving to all-time high it's been about 535 days (525 and 548).
  • From last nadir to April 20, btw? 528 days. Yeah. Suggesting a late September, early October peak โ€” if past is prologue (which seems crazy to suggest it even might be).
  • Bitcoin's never before broken a prior peak before a halving.

But this time it did.

March 8 was an all-time high, something like 40 days before April's halving. If BTC price follows the pattern of its three prior cycles, it's not the all-time high for this one.

  • Maybe the peak will hit something like 580 days from now, and we will know that order remains in the cosmos.

Reality check: This cycle has included new variables that made BTC price carve out a new calendar.

  • The BTC ETF was the x-factor this time. The long price rise all through 2023 still squares with bitcoiner orthodoxy, suggesting it would have gotten here eventually. But it looks like the ETF bounce accelerated the timeline.

๐Ÿ’ญ Brady's thought bubble: I still expect this cycle's peak to hit well, well out from today.

๐Ÿ’ญ Crystal's thought bubble: ETF cycles tell a story too. Wall Street tends to put things in an ETF wrapper after the biggest performance gains have been had, playing right into investors' foibles.

  • Sure, BTC could hit a big round number, but I'm gonna bet percentage gains won't be as impressive from here on out.

What we're watching: Because the halving is a big event, there's likely to be a sell-off after ("sell the news").

  • It fell to a low 80% below the halving price in 2012. It only lost 20% after 2016's, but the 2020 halving marked the start of the rise โ€” no drop.

๐Ÿ“Š 2. Charted: Two new stablecoins

Data: CoinGecko; Chart: Axios Visuals

Two interesting new stablecoins have hit the market in less than a year. One has puttered along and one has shot up like a rocket, Brady writes.

Why it matters: Stablecoins are the grease of the cryptocurrency market, but they could one day be the Trojan horse, serving as a medium of payment for normal people.

PayPal entered the market with its stablecoin in August, paypal usd (PYUSD), which generated a lot of excitement because it was a major brand validating stablecoins. However, uptake has been modest, as most exchanges still make trading pairs with tether (and the few that don't use usd coin).

  • There had been no clear purpose for PYUSD in the market, besides being a stablecoin associated with a major brand.
  • Last week we saw the company differentiate its stablecoin by offering free global remittances for those who used it.
  • Nevertheless, the performance has been lackluster.

Enter Ethena USDe (USDE), a stablecoin that effectively automates a cash-and-carry trade for blockchain investors.

  • Once users mint USDE by depositing another stablecoin, they can use it or stake it. If they stake it, they share in the revenue made off that trade (it's been pretty great so far).
  • Stablecoins are then traded to make a delta-neutral trade of staked ETH (stETH) and funding to ETH shorts in the perpetuals market. Each has their own source of revenue.
  • The chief risk of staking USDE is that funding rates turn against ETH shorts (which is where they earn most of the money).

Yes, but: No one buying products like this is thinking long term.

  • Historically, it's been shorts that got paid to take positions.

The big picture: Both of these are minuscule compared to tether.

๐Ÿ“ฑ3. Messaging giant Telegram floats an IPO

Photo: Katja Knupper/Getty

Telegram has floated a possible IPO, which is lifting the toncoin (TON) token that was devised for the gigantic messaging app, Brady writes.

Why it matters: Telegram and Discord, the bulletin board company, are the two channels that crypto projects use to communicate directly with potential investors and fans.

Driving the news: Telegram announced that it has broken 900 million users and is considering a public offering as the company nears profitability.

  • Toncoin (TON) jumped from $2.79 to $3.76 between Monday and yesterday, a gain of nearly 40%.

Between the lines: Toncoin has been integrated into the messaging app in various ways.

  • And trading tokens on Telegram was the hotness last fall.

Flashback: In 2017, Telegram, which had no revenue, attempted an initial coin offering (ICO), one of the earliest to target over a billion dollars raised.

  • It all went down when firms still feared the SEC, so it caved on its blockchain plans, paid a fine and gave all the investor money back.
  • Then the company open-sourced its code, and that's where this new coin came from.
  • Telegram's founder famously launched Russia's answer to Facebook, but he sold it and left the country long ago.

What we're watching: How regulators feel about an IPO for an app that kind of has a token even though it totally doesn't have a token.

๐Ÿ’ญ Brady's thought bubble: The Open Network goes to great pains to say that it's separate from Telegram proper, which... like, sure.

๐Ÿƒ 4. Catch up quick

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

๐Ÿงช Ethereum's Dencun upgrade kicked in today, designed to significantly lower transaction costs in Layer-2 blockchains. (The Defiant)

๐Ÿ”ฌ Nigeria is asking Binance for the last six months of data for its top 100 users in its fight over alleged currency manipulation. (FT)

โš–๏ธ Binance founder Changpeng Zhao is being made to surrender his passport and notify the court of any travel in the country, in a tightening of his bail conditions. (WSJ)

๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿฆฒ Coinbase is trying to raise $1 billion with a convertible debt offering. (Blockworks)

๐Ÿ˜Ž 5. Culture hash: Bitcoin, but make it fashion

Screenshot: Union Los Angeles website.

You know it's a hot market when folks start making cultural artifacts related to Bitcoin, especially brands that aren't strictly crypto-oriented, Brady writes.

  • We found this jacket scrolling the Bitcoin subreddit. A Redditor saw a player wearing it courtside at a basketball game.

What they're saying: "The most powerful moment is the moment you realize no one is going to save you," the jacket says.

Of note: According to the original poster, the person shown is Jalen Williams of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

  • I can't find any evidence of publicly stated Bitcoin allegiance, however.

By the numbers: The jacket's available for $1,550 from Union Los Angeles, but size Large is sold out. (I'm out of luck!)

The bottom line: Most cycles we get influencers with Bitcoin branding and Soundcloud rappers. Clothing requires manufacturing, though, so that seems like signal.

This newsletter was edited by Pete Gannon and copy edited by Carolyn DiPaolo.

๐ŸŽ™ Jalen Williams, are you on our email list? Want to talk to us about Bitcoin? โ€”C & B