Depending on who you ask, it's either a revolution or a scam. But one thing that's hard to argue is that it Bitcoin always seems to come back.

After flirting with the $10,000 mark for a while, the price of a single Bitcoin finally broke through on Friday evening.  It's the first time we've seen the price this robust since early 2018, when it was in the process of declining from its all-time high near $20,000 each.

The cryptocurrency's retreat during last year brought the price down below $4,000 in December, but it has since tripled in value to where it stands as of this writing. 

Of course, that's likely to change as Bitcoin has been notoriously volatile, making it difficult to actually use as a currency, and also something of a darling with speculators. 

Some speculate that this latest milestone is due in part to the announcement that Facebook is working on its own cryptocurrency, called Libra. Any positive news for the crypto realm often tends to be seen as lifting all crypto boats, and Bitcoin remains the largest ship sailing that sea. 

As I'm writing this, the price of a Bitcoin seems to be rocketing ever higher with each refresh of the charts over at CoinMarketCap. Traders sometimes refer to this as the market "going parabolic" thanks in part to FOMO kicking in. Seeing the price break through a major psychological milestone like $10,000 makes investors, speculators and the masses worry that they might be missing out on something big. 

The rush to strike while the iron is hot sends the price higher and creates something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, at least for a while. The cycle of hype and speculation helped push the price of Bitcoin to nearly $20,000 in a stunningly short span of time in 2017.

But when Bitcoin holders finally began to sell and take some profits, the price came crashing back to Earth, leading to a painful 2018 for those that came to the party at its heights.

Over Bitcoin's decade-long history, however, each big FOMO-fueled run-up in price has resulted in the cryptocurrency making gains in value from the start of one bull run to the next. In other words, if the pattern holds, Bitcoin could hit $100,000 and then crash back down to $25,000.

Seems crazy to contemplate. But it's even crazier that you could buy a Bitcoin just four years ago for only $250. 

So maybe there's a good reason for the FOMO... unless tomorrow the whole crypto market finally collapses like so many forgotten drive-in theaters. 

Published on: Jun 21, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.