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Bitcoin Fear and Greed Index: Explained

Read 4 min
Key takeaways
— The Bitcoin Fear and Greed Index is a measure of market sentiment in relation to Bitcoin

— It aggregates a number of different indicators, such as social media content and recent market volatility, to give a snapshot of the global Bitcoin economy

— Using the tool provides valuable insight, separating emotion from fact and even identifying trading opportunities as a result. Here’s how to use it.

Supply and demand is the invisible hand driving any market – but it’s not the only factor. Besides scarcity, there’s a further invisible factor in play when it comes to markets, especially in the age of instant communication: sentiment.

If you’re familiar with the terms apeing in, bullish, bearish, HODL or FOMO, then you already know a thing or two about how emotion can impact our perceptions. The same item could seem like a valuable commodity one day, and big risk the next, not based on its utility or fundamental value, but purely on the sentiments of the market.

The big question is this: how can crypto traders separate emotion from fact, in order to make objective decisions as they navigate the space?

This is where the Bitcoin Fear and Greed Index comes into play.

What’s The Bitcoin Fear and Greed Index?

The Bitcoin Fear and Greed Index is a measure of market sentiment relating to Bitcoin, presented on a scale from 1 to 100.

The lower the score, the more fearful the market is about the future of Bitcoin; the higher it is, the more there is confidence in the market surrounding Bitcoin. Conversely, the closer the scale measures to 100, he more “greed”, or excitement, is exerting  force on the market.

Real-Life Examples

  • Extreme Fear A bearish market is generally where you’ll observe the highest level of “Fear” in popular sentiment. When the market crashed in 2022, for example, the Index was showing a score of only 12/100 – sentiment in the extreme caution zone of perception.
  • Extreme Greed Meanwhile, in February 2021, the index measured a whopping 92, shortly after Elon Musk declared Tesla’s huge $1.5bn investment in the currency – a fact that buoyed the entire market and sent a new surge of confidence through the crypto space. Not surprisingly, the price also spiked.

How is the Bitcoin Fear and Greed Index calculated?

The Bitcoin Fear and Greed Index itself is an aggregation of a few key metrics that monitor sentiment in different ways. Here are a few components:

Recent market volatility

This is calculated from the volatility and drawdown of Bitcoin’s price, in comparison to the volatility over the 30- and 90-day periods of average velocity. In essence, exceptional volatility will contribute to an overall assessment that is fearful, since the market will be uncertain of what’s next.

Trading volume 

Trading volume is another indication of the demand for Bitcoin. Generally speaking, high buying volumes in a positive market is a sign that greed and FOMO may be in the driving seat – something likely to be reflected in the price of BTC itself.

Social media content analysis

Social media goes beyond memes and likes – it’s also the biggest, most detailed data set known to man. Twitter alone has just shy of 400 million users, and provides a goldmine of insight into how large groups of people are feeling.

Not surprisingly, this data is used to inform the Fear and Greed index: mentions, hashtags, engagement, reactions and even the text itself is all aggregated to give an overall reading of sentiment, and counted within the broader Fear and Greed assessment.

Qualitative expressions of confidence

On a similar note, using Google Trends and analyzing what people are searching for, and what terms they are using, gives a hint as to how people feel about the market. For example, the search query “where can I buy Bitcoin”, indicates positive sentiment because it hints that people want to invest. 

How to use the Fear and Greed Index

Rational decision making

Trading on emotion is never a good strategy, nor is it rational. But since the market’s overall  feeling about Bitcoin does impact its value, you can glean some very interesting insights from monitoring sentiment.

Spotting opportunity beyond the headlines

Assessing the market objectively not only allows you to make better decisions – it may also enable you to identify opportunities. For example, a time of extreme fear may mean an opportunity to buy at a lower price, with lower risk to you as a buyer. Conversely, identifying times of extreme greed may present opportunities for holders to sell at a good price, relative to what they initially paid.

Remember, in both these instances, the fundamentals didn’t change; only the sentiment did. There is leverage in how that change is handled.

Limitations of the Fear and Greed Index

Narrow in scope

Sentiment is a significant metric for any market place, but it is by no means the only thing influencing price. It’s important to remember that the Fear and Greed Index only measures emotion – it is not a hollistic view of the market, doesn’t take into account underlying utility or complex economics, and should only be used in conjunction with other investment tools and valuation metrics.

Cannot predict future events

The metric is based on past data and, no matter how accurate that reading is, it can’t predict the future. While your decisions are based on what you hope for in the future, the index is limited to telling you how people feel right now, based on what we already know.

In short, your decisions will still carry risk, no matter how well-informed they may be.

How are you feeling?

The Fear and Greed Index is only one small element of the wider crypto trading picture, but understanding this metric will give you valuable insight into the market. Understanding its utility, along with other analytics tools, enables you to make rational decisions about your own assets and how to manage them – and eliminate crypto’s notorious FOMO from your journey.

Knowledge is power


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