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Are Bitcoin Bubbles Predictable? Combining a Generalized Metcalfe's Law and the LPPLS Model


  • Spencer Wheatley

    (ETH Zurich)

  • Didier Sornette

    (ETH Zurich and Swiss Finance Institute)

  • Tobias Huber

    (ETH Zurich)

  • Max Reppen

    (ETH Zurich)

  • Robert N. Gantner

    (D ONE Solutions AG)


We develop a strong diagnostic for bubbles and crashes in bitcoin, by analyzing the coincidence (and its absence) of fundamental and technical indicators. Using a generalized Metcalfe’s law based on network properties, a fundamental value is quantified and shown to be heavily exceeded, on at least four occasions, by bubbles that grow and burst. In these bubbles, we detect a universal super-exponential unsustainable growth. We model this universal pattern with the Log-Periodic Power Law Singularity (LPPLS) model, which parsimoniously captures diverse positive feedback phenomena, such as herding and imitation. The LPPLS model is shown to provide an ex-ante warning of market instabilities, quantifying a high crash hazard and probabilistic bracket of the crash time consistent with the actual corrections; although, as always, the precise time and trigger (which straw breaks the camel’s back) being exogenous and unpredictable. Looking forward, our analysis identifies a substantial but not unprecedented overvaluation in the price of bitcoin, suggesting many months of volatile sideways bitcoin prices ahead (from the time of writing, March 2018).

Suggested Citation

  • Spencer Wheatley & Didier Sornette & Tobias Huber & Max Reppen & Robert N. Gantner, 2018. "Are Bitcoin Bubbles Predictable? Combining a Generalized Metcalfe's Law and the LPPLS Model," Swiss Finance Institute Research Paper Series 18-22, Swiss Finance Institute, revised Mar 2018.
  • Handle: RePEc:chf:rpseri:rp1822

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    Cited by:

    1. Arturas Sabalionis & Wenbo Wang & Hail Park, 2021. "What affects the price movements in Bitcoin and Ethereum?," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 89(1), pages 102-127, January.
    2. Alexandre Bovet & Carlo Campajola & Jorge F. Lazo & Francesco Mottes & Iacopo Pozzana & Valerio Restocchi & Pietro Saggese & Nicol'o Vallarano & Tiziano Squartini & Claudio J. Tessone, 2018. "Network-based indicators of Bitcoin bubbles," Papers 1805.04460,
    3. Kyriazis, Nikolaos & Papadamou, Stephanos & Corbet, Shaen, 2020. "A systematic review of the bubble dynamics of cryptocurrency prices," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 54(C).
    4. Pele, Daniel Traian & Mazurencu-Marinescu-Pele, Miruna, 2018. "Cryptocurrencies, Metcalfe's law and LPPL models," IRTG 1792 Discussion Papers 2018-056, Humboldt University of Berlin, International Research Training Group 1792 "High Dimensional Nonstationary Time Series".
    5. Gidea, Marian & Goldsmith, Daniel & Katz, Yuri & Roldan, Pablo & Shmalo, Yonah, 2020. "Topological recognition of critical transitions in time series of cryptocurrencies," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 548(C).
    6. M. Eren Akbiyik & Mert Erkul & Killian Kaempf & Vaiva Vasiliauskaite & Nino Antulov-Fantulin, 2021. "Ask "Who", Not "What": Bitcoin Volatility Forecasting with Twitter Data," Papers 2110.14317,, revised Dec 2022.
    7. Xiong, Jinwu & Liu, Qing & Zhao, Lei, 2020. "A new method to verify Bitcoin bubbles: Based on the production cost," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 51(C).
    8. Papadamou, Stephanos & Kyriazis, Nikolaos A. & Tzeremes, Panayiotis & Corbet, Shaen, 2021. "Herding behaviour and price convergence clubs in cryptocurrencies during bull and bear markets," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(C).
    9. Pele, Daniel Traian & Mazurencu-Marinescu-Pele, Miruna, 2019. "Metcalfe's law and herding behaviour in the cryptocurrencies market," Economics Discussion Papers 2019-16, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel).
    10. Nino Antulov-Fantulin & Dijana Tolic & Matija Piskorec & Zhang Ce & Irena Vodenska, 2018. "Inferring short-term volatility indicators from Bitcoin blockchain," Papers 1809.07856,
    11. Irena Barjav{s}i'c & Nino Antulov-Fantulin, 2020. "Time-varying volatility in Bitcoin market and information flow at minute-level frequency," Papers 2004.00550,, revised Jan 2021.

    More about this item


    Bitcoin; crypto-currencies; bubble; prediction; Metcalfe law; log-periodic power law singularity; LPPLS; Johansen-Ledoit-Sornette;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C53 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Forecasting and Prediction Models; Simulation Methods
    • E47 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G17 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Financial Forecasting and Simulation

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