Bitcoin is ‘most-crowded trade’: big-money managers

FAN Editor

Big-money managers say too many investors have piled into bitcoin, according to a Bank of America survey.

A net 43% of respondents say long bitcoin is the “most-crowded trade” with 75% believing the cryptocurrency is a “bubble.”

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender surveyed 194 participants with $592 billion in assets under management between May 7 and May 13. 

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Prior peaks in crowded trades have been “associated with tactical ‘tops’ in relative performance,” wrote Michael Hartnett, chief investment strategist at Bank of America, in a note published Tuesday. 

Bitcoin’s price has fallen sharply in recent weeks after closing at a record high of more than $63,500 per coin on April 12. The cryptocurrency plunged by as much as 26% Wednesday to a low of $31,663, a level last seen in January, after China told its financial institutions and payments companies to not conduct transactions in cryptocurrency.

Long technology and long ESG rounded out the top three “most crowded trades.”

A net 48% of those surveyed say that value stocks will continue to outperform. High-quality stocks (41%) and high-dividend stocks (39%) are also favored as investors position for inflation and begin to move into defensive names. Small cap continued to fall out of favor, favored by 14% of respondents, down from 41% in January. 

A net 69% of respondents expect higher growth and higher inflation. Meanwhile, 35% worry inflation is the biggest tail risk to markets. A bond market “taper tantrum” and asset bubbles were also listed among tail-risk concerns.

As inflation concerns grow, investors have pulled forward their Fed rate hike expectations. A net 21% of respondents expect the central bank to raise rates in the first half of next year, up 11 percentage points from last month’s survey.

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Investors looking to protect against stagflation, a period of weaker growth and rising inflation, should short Europe, financials, materials and consumer cyclicals, the survey found. Meanwhile, those anticipating lower inflation should go long Treasurys and technology. 

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