Bitcoin's (BTC) price rose to almost $20,000 in 2017 before losing more than 80% of its value to a multi-year long bear market. In the years since, the asset has never again come close to these price highs — until now. At time of publication, crypto's first currency is once again trading a few percentage points away from its previous milestone.
While crossing $20,000 may soon be celebrated as a psychologically significant threshold, Bitcoin will not actually reach its all-time high in terms of buying power at that point thanks to inflation.
“If you bought #Bitcoin at the top in December 2017, you won’t truly recover your buying power until we hit 21.24k,” podcaster Vlad Costea said in a tweet on Tuesday. Costea used $20,000 as Bitcoin’s high, putting the numbers and dates into an inflation calculator to determine the most accurate figures.
U.S. dollar holders lose approximately 2% of their purchasing power per year on average from inflation. Official data reveals 2.13% inflation in 2017, 2.49% in 2018, 1.76% in 2019 and 1.86% in 2020.
Bitcoin’s last all-time high varied across exchanges. Coinbase's price index shows that Bitcoin reached a record high of $19,891.99 on Dec. 16, 2017. Using this number, Bitcoin must reach $21,131.02 to once again hold the same purchasing power as it did in 2017, according to Officialdata.org’s inflation calculator.
Other previous historical Bitcoin levels also show inflationary impact, although not particularly notable. Bitcoin’s $1,200 level in 2013 values about $1,341 in today’s dollars.
With all the United States money printing in 2020, however, the future will tell whether this year will ultimately have a greater inflationary impact on the U.S. dollar than the currently stated sub-2%.