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Finance Bitcoin unlikely to ever hit another record high, Barclays says

The bank says peak prices are a thing of history.

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(REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui)

For a time, bitcoin's price seemed to move in only one direction: up.

In 2018, however, that hasn't been the case. The price of bitcoin has nearly halved this year, and Barclays sees it as unlikely to ever top its all-time high of $19,843, set in December.

"Unlike past peaks in Bitcoin prices, the survey evidence, based on our modeling, suggests that the speculative bubble in crypto currencies may have passed its peak," the bank said as part of its annual Equity Gilt report this week.

Here's where the bank's model predicts bitcoin's price will go from here:

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The prediction comes as part of a larger comparison between the cryptocurrency craze of the past year and epidemiological models.

The team of analysts, led by Joseph Abate, says there's a striking similarity between bitcoin's rise in popularity and the spread of viruses like influenza.

"Applying this model to speculative behaviour in crypto currencies, it suggests that once a large enough share of the population susceptible to speculation becomes aware of and holders of crypto currencies, upward pressure on prices stalls," the team writes. "To the extent that holders' attraction to Bitcoin was speculative — as our empirical analysis of historical prices suggests — those holders then become sellers, initiating an accelerating downward spiral."

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