Taken on its own, Bitcoin’s eye-popping 1,400 percent rally last year would put most other investments to shame. But even such a monster gain might not be enough to put the cryptocurrency on the radar for institutional investors, according to Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd.
The sheer volatility, liquidity, and even environmental concern -- the electricity requirements for Bitcoin mining are enormous -- associated with the still-nascent cryptocurrency space means Bitcoin doesn’t yet have a real role to play for asset allocators, according to Inigo Fraser-Jenkins, the brokerage’s head of global quantitative and European equity strategy.
Comparing Bitcoin’s returns, volatility and correlations with asset classes including the U.S. S&P 500 Index, emerging markets, high-yield debt and commodities from January 2016 to December 2017, Fraser-Jenkins found Bitcoin would need to post an average monthly return of at least 5 percent in future to justify a “meaningful” allocation into optimized portfolios.
That’s just too high a hurdle, even before accounting for other risks, he said.
“Cryptocurrencies do not have a size and liquidity that is appropriate for institutional asset allocation and the environmental, social and governance concerns of Bitcoin probably rule them out for many pension funds,” the strategist said in a note to clients. “Aside from all these concerns, the required return of Bitcoin at 5 percent per month for it even to have a meaningful place in allocation seems too high for investors to try to overcome these other issues.”
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