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Bitcoin’s extraordinary price surge means its market capitalization now exceeds the annual output of whole economies, and the estimated worth of some of the world’s top billionaires.
Time

Bitcoin rocketed above $19,000 for the first time on Thursday before falling sharply from its record high.

In trading on the Coinbase exchange, the digital currency hit a high of $19,340 before falling more than 20% from that level to $15,198.63. At 12:02 p.m. EST, the cryptocurrency traded at $16,260.01. The price on Coinbase is often at a premium over other exchanges. Coinbase is one of the major cryptocurrency exchanges accounting for a third of bitcoin trading volume.

On the CoinDesk exchange, Bitcoin jumped more than 25% on Thursday, hitting an intraday record of $16,569 per coin, just eight days after topping the $10,000 milestone. For the year, Bitcoin is up more than 1,600%. 

“It goes without saying that prices have reached a level where sentiment is exhibiting short-term euphoria,” said Mark Newton, managing member at Newton Advisors, in a note to clients. “But to think prices are at mania levels where this could suffer a serious crash here… is a bit ridiculous.”

“I truly don’t think people are involved on a mass scale yet. We’ve heard the fraud claims. Now we need people profiting immensely all around us and making forecasts for $1 million, etc., for it to truly have reached a euphoric peak,” Newton said.

Despite its wild ride, bitcoin now has a market value of more than $270 billion, meaning it would rank among the 20 largest stocks in the S&P 500.

The latest swing higher came as bitcoin topped $12,000 Tuesday night in a rapid recovery from a 20% drop last week.

Between 5 and 6 a.m. New York time Wednesday, bitcoin jumped past $15,000, and the day’s wild ride began.

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