Should The Average Investor Buy Bitcoin, Seeking Alpha

Should The Average Investor Buy Bitcoin?

During Janet Yellen's testimony to the House Financial Services Panel a member in the audience held sign reading, "Buy Bitcoin.".

Bitcoin has yielded a comeback of

Legendary software developer turned investor, John Mcafee, forecasts the spot rate of one Bitcoin to reach $500,000 within three years.

Despite the higher volatility and risk, adding some percentage of these crypto-assets to your portfolio is a prudent decision according to the data.

This article cracks down objective risk and comeback data for Bitcoin (BTC) with the purpose of helping you determine whether you should initiate a long position. For simpleness I will only be covering BTC since it has the largest market capitalization in the space and is the most well known.

Presently I am reading a book by Yuval Noah Harari titled, “S apiens: A Brief History of Humankind.” One particularly interesting observation from Yuval is:

As far as we know, only Homo sapiens can talk about things we have never seen, touched, or smelled. Think religions, myths, legends, and fantasies. The telling of myths and stories permit Homo sapiens to collaborate in large numbers in utterly supple ways. This separates us from all other animals.

As I contemplated this idea, BTC came to mind. Similar to the way homo sapiens were better suited to sustain relative to other ancient human species like Neanderthals and Denisovans, there is a fresh breed of investor suited to understand and invest in these crypto-assets that no one has ever seen, touched, or smelled.

Astronomical Comeback Potential

Looking objectively at the comeback characteristics of BTC relative to other assets it is truly in a class of its own. JPMorgan (JPM) publishes a “Guide to the Markets” booklet each quarter with a plethora of informative charts. One of my favorites shows how well, or poor, the Average Investor does compared to each individual asset class.

If you were to add the fresh crypto asset class onto this chart, the bars indicating every other asset would be hard to see. At the time I began writing this article BTC had already returned 140% this year. Below is a chart from Coin.Dance showcasing the dollar come back of Bitcoin over different time periods.

The most astonishing part about that come back figure is that due to several factors institutional investors are for the most part not able to invest yet unless doing so through the Bitcoin Investment Trust (OTCQX:GBTC) which means paying a ridiculous premium. If regulations are passed, institutional investors have access, and mass market adoption resumes to become reality massive amounts of untapped funding would proceed to shove up the price of the limited supply token. John Mcafee, tech icon who founded the antivirus software company Mcafee Associates, recently made the bold prediction that BTC price will reach $500,000 in just three years.

Risk Profile

In order to fairly assess the viability of BTC for your portfolio the risk characteristics need to be considered and compared to your current investment to determine the risk adjusted rate of come back. Especially for such a volatile asset. To do this, I used daily pricing data from the last three years of BTC and the S&P five hundred ETF (NYSEARCA:SPY).

While the S&P five hundred expectedly had more tolerable Standard Deviations and Daily Ranges (high-low for the day as a percentage of price), the Sharpe Ratio of an investment in Bitcoin was higher meaning higher come back is expected per unit of risk. Without accounting for stress, and chance of selling due to emotions it seems that BTC has a better risk-adjusted come back profile.

Portfolio Implications

Almost half a century ago Harry Markowitz proposed the idea of building a portfolio along the Efficient Frontier with an optimal risk/comeback profile. I created a basic model displaying what this frontier looks like for the two assets that I compared above. (Risk is shown on the x-axis and daily come back is the y-axis.)

The bottom of the curve is an allocation of 100% to stocks, or a portfolio simply holding SPY. The point on the far right of the curve is holding 100% BTC. The crimson circle at the leftmost point of the curve is the Global Minimum Variance Portfolio. This is the combination of SPY and BTC that results in the least variance due to their correlation. This Global Minimum Variance Portfolio as calculated from the previous three years daily prices is 96% stocks and 4% in BTC. According to Markowitz’s theory it would not be prudent to hold a portfolio below this point since you could earn the same or higher come back by simply selecting an allocation higher up the frontier curve.

The optimal portfolio in this simulation holds an allocation of 84% SPY and 16% BTC. This allocation results in the highest Sharpe Ratio: .1264. Compare this Sharpe Ratio to the portfolio holding 100% stocks over the same time period: .0835.


According to the data, holding some amount of BTC in your portfolio can actually increase your Sharpe Ratio! Put simply, this means the numbers say it would be a wise choice to invest some of your wealth into BTC, given you are able to tolerate the extra volatility.

In my next articles I will break-down the investment profiles of other assets in the crypto space such as ICOs and Alt-coins like Ether.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next seventy two hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it voices my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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