When you start seeing a lot of Bitcoin news headlines declaring that the digital currency is dead or dying, it can only mean one thing.
Bitcoin prices are bottoming out and will soon start rising.
I'll explain that anomaly shortly, but first we need to take a look at what people have been saying about Bitcoin recently.
Exhibit A is a Sept. 19 post by Izabella Kaminska on the Financial Times' FT Alphaville blog.
Under the headline, "Cult Markets: When the Bubble Bursts" Kaminska compared the Bitcoin price chart to a classic chart of an investing bubble. She also noted that the Bitcoin price had fallen below $400.
And then Kaminska said this: "We're going to stick our neck out at this stage and call this the end of Bitcoin."
That got a lot of attention on Bitcoin message boards, but wasn't the only unusually negative Bitcoin news headline in recent weeks. The drop in the Bitcoin price over the past few months from over $600 to under $400 has given several critics the confidence to declare the imminent death of the cryptocurrency.
On Monday U.S. News & World Report ran a story with the headline, "Should You Steer Clear of Bitcoin?" noting that "this virtual currency has been known to lose as much as 80% of its value in a matter of days."
And the National Journal (a Washington-based magazine published by the same folks that own The Atlantic) chimed in the same day with an article titled "Bitcoin, the Greatest Scam of All Time?"
That story focused on a quote from con artist Frank Abagnale, the inspiration for the film "Catch Me If You can," who told The Atlantic that "Bitcoin is a way to rob people of their life savings."
The National Journal piece likened Abagnale's comments to Warren Buffett's quip earlier this year that Bitcoin is a "mirage," and noted that his "diagnosis of Bitcoin echoes an advisory issued last month by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau."
So, how could all this negative Bitcoin news possibly be a good thing?
For the answer to that, we need to turn to science...
Why Bad Bitcoin News Is a "Buy" Signal
Believe it or not, social scientists have studied the relationship between headlines and investing.
One phenomenon they describe is "recency bias," a tendency to give the recent events more weight than those in the more distant past.
So the string of recent negative Bitcoin news - particularly the steady Bitcoin price decline, as well as reports of Bitcoin-related scams and scandals that tend to get more play in mainstream media than do positive developments - is what these journalists are thinking about when they conclude that Bitcoin must be toast.
Given that explanation, it would be easy simply to dismiss such reports, but the social scientists have discovered a reason why such strong negativity around a certain investment or trend should not be ignored.
"Positive stories are usually signs that a trend or a company has topped out, but negative stories are usually published right about 'turnaround' time," explained Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald.
Fitz-Gerald pointed to University of Richmond research from a few years ago that investigated the connection between publication bias and a company's stock performance.
"What they found is that the most negatively portrayed companies beat the market by an average of 12.4% after they appeared in print, while the media darlings portrayed most positively only outperformed by 4.2%," Fitz-Gerald said.
Other studies of magazine covers have shown that blanket declarations about an investment trend are frequently harbingers of a major reversal.
"The best example of this is the now infamous Newsweek cover from August 13, 1979, proclaiming the 'Death of Equities' right before a multi-generational bull market run," Fitz-Gerald said. "News headlines are a social reflection of mood and, as such, they're almost a de facto guarantee that change is in the air."
Putting all this in the context of those ugly Bitcoin news headlines means we should be very close to a bottom on the Bitcoin price drop.
While Bitcoin is relatively new to the financial world, it's still a type of investment, and the same conclusions apply.
So when a writer for a publication as prominent as the Financial Times pronounces the "end of Bitcoin," that's not a signal to bail - it's a signal to buy while Bitcoin is still hovering at bargain prices.
Follow me on Twitter @DavidGZeiler.
UP NEXT: While focusing on the decline in the Bitcoin price, the media almost totally ignored a major positive development for the digital currency. Earlier this month the first U.S. Bitcoin derivative started trading. Here's why this is a big deal for businesses that want to start using Bitcoin...
- Financial Times: Cult Markets: When the Bubble Bursts
- National Journal: Bitcoin, the Greatest Scam of All Time?
- U.S. News & World Report: Should You Steer Clear of Bitcoin?
About the Author
David Zeiler, Associate Editor for Money Morning at Money Map Press, has been a journalist for more than 35 years, including 18 spent at The Baltimore Sun. He has worked as a writer, editor, and page designer at different times in his career. He's interviewed a number of well-known personalities - ranging from punk rock icon Joey Ramone to Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak.
Over the course of his journalistic career, Dave has covered many diverse subjects. Since arriving at Money Morning in 2011, he has focused primarily on technology. He's an expert on both Apple and cryptocurrencies. He started writing about Apple for The Sun in the mid-1990s, and had an Apple blog on The Sun's web site from 2007-2009. Dave's been writing about Bitcoin since 2011 - long before most people had even heard of it. He even mined it for a short time.
Dave has a BA in English and Mass Communications from Loyola University Maryland.