The term crypto winter refers to an extended period of declining or stagnant prices and negative sentiment in the cryptocurrency market. Similar to a bear stock market
, crypto winter often sees projects with inflated value go bust, companies lay off staff, venture investments decrease, and the overall activity across the industry go down.
There is no consensus definition on what constitutes a crypto winter, but crypto prices are considered an essential indicator. With bitcoin price as a benchmark, there have been five crypto winters from 2017 to August 2022.
A variety of factors can contribute to the onset of a crypto winters. Both external and crypto-specific factors can play a role, including tightening regulations, interest rate hikes, worsening macroeconomic conditions, and financial market contagion that have all been associated with past crypto winters. In each case, there can be a specific set of catalysts. The mid-2022 crypto winter, for example, is believed to have followed the collapse of several prominent stablecoin and crypto lending projects and disruptions across the DeFi space.
Usually, a crypto winter follows a bull market
when digital asset prices increase significantly and sentiment becomes overly exuberant. In this sense, crypto winters are a normal part of the market cycle
and can be viewed as helping correct the excesses that hinder the long-term development of the industry. Somewhat counterintuitively, a crypto winter can also be a great time for industry participants to focus on building useful products rather than trying to capitalize on the short-term excitement usually associated with periods of bull market.