**NOTE** – I usually like to release the updates a day apart, but I'll be spacing out the Top Ten 2018, 2019, and 2020 a bit more as readers have mentioned they've been removed by the mods (no offence taken, mods – the content is similar, I assume the posts are being removed because they're seen as identical). **END NOTE**
tl;dr – Alt-lead rally in January, but Bitcoin still in comfortable overall lead. NEM still in the basement. Dash crushes competition in January. January 2020 was easily the best start to a year since the experiments began in 2018.
Instead of hypothetically tracking cryptos, I made an actual $1000 investment, $100 in each of the Top 10 cryptocurrencies by market cap on the 1st of January 2018. The result? The 2018 Top Ten portfolio ended the year down 85%, my $1000 worth only $150.
Think of the Top Ten Experiments as a lazy man’s Index Fund (no weighting or rebalancing), less technical, but hopefully still a proxy for the market as a whole – or at the very least an interesting snapshot of the 2018, 2019, and 2020 crypto space.
I am trying to keep this project simple and accessible for beginners and those looking to get into crypto but maybe not quite ready to jump in yet. I try not to take sides or analyze, but rather attempt to report in a detached manner letting the numbers speak for themselves.
This is not investing advice – as a matter of fact, the vast majority of the reports will show that the Top Ten approach under performs other strategies. This is experiment is designed to be documentary in nature, describing a specific period in cryptocurrency history.
Month Twenty-Five- Down 80%
After two straight down months to end last year, 2020 started off with a bang. Every 2018 Top Ten crypto finished the month in the green, a rare event for the 2018 Top Ten and something this grouping hasn’t seen since May 2019. The “worst” performing crypto still gained about +25% in January (XRP).
Ranking and January Winners and Losers
Six out of the Ten Top cryptos were on the move this month, most gaining ground. Bitcoin Cash climbed back to 4th place, up one from last month. Cardano and IOTA both advanced three places to #10 and #20 respectively. Dash made a massive leap this month, gaining 10 places from #26 to #16, the largest month to month move for any coin (in any direction) since this experiment began in 2018.
On the other hand, even though they both had great months, Litecoin (+68%) fell one spot and Stellar (+34%) slipped three spots to settle at positions #7 and #14 respectively.
January Winners – Dash blew everyone out of the water during the first month of 2020 gaining an astounding +184% and climbing 10 positions in the rankings. Bitcoin Cash and IOTA finished in a virtual tie for second place, both up about +87%.
January Losers – XRP under-performed the pack, but still finished January up +24%. And Bitcoin, despite receiving most of the headlines in early 2020, couldn’t keep pace with its altcoin peers “only” gaining +31%.
For those keeping score, here is tally of which coins have the most monthly wins and losses in the first 25 months of the 2018 Top Ten Crypto Index Fund Experiment. Most monthly wins (6): Bitcoin. Most monthly losses (5): Stellar. All cryptos have at least one monthly win and Bitcoin now stands alone as the only crypto that hasn’t lost a month (although it came close in January 2020).
Overall update – Bitcoin still with healthy lead, alts recover a bit, NEM still at the bottom
Down -46% just last month, Bitcoin made up a lot of ground in January 2020 and now is down -29% since the beginning of the experiment in 2018. Litecoin is now safely in second place at -68%, then comes Ethereum in third, down -75%.
NEM remains stuck at the bottom, down -95% despite a strong +48% gain in January. Cardano and IOTA join NEM as the three cryptos that are down over -90% since January 2018.
40% of the cryptos that started 2018 in the Top Ten have dropped out, specifically NEM, Dash, IOTA, and Stellar. They have been replaced by EOS, Binance Coin, Tether, and BTCSV.
Total Market Cap for the entire cryptocurrency sector:
The overall crypto market gained approximately $67B in January 2020, up about +36%. After two months under $200B, the overall market cap is now back over $250B, a level not seen since September 2019. So, yes a good January 2020, but for some perspective: since January 2018, the total market cap is down -55%.
As could be inferred by its relative under-performance compared to altcoins this month, Bitcoin dominance dropped to 66% in January 2020. It was near this level a few months ago, in early December 2019.
For context, the range since the beginning of the experiment in January 2018 has been quite wide: a high of 70% in September 2019 and a low of 33% in February 2018.
Overall return on investment since January 1st, 2018:
The 2018 Top Ten Portfolio gained about $65 in January 2020. If I cashed out today, my $1000 initial investment would return $202, down -80%.
Here’s a look at the entire experiment, month by month:
As you can see, nothing but red. The closest this group has come to breaking even was after the very first month.
The 2019 Top Ten Experiment and the just launched 2020 Top Ten Experiment are both doing much better:
(Yes, this feels like the world’s slowest dollar cost averaging)
Taken together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line:
After a $3000 investment in the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Top Ten Cryptocurrencies, my portfolios are worth $3,382.
That’s up about 12.7%.
As always, the experiment’s focus of solely holding the Top Ten Cryptos continues to be a losing approach. While the overall market is down -55% from January 2018, the cryptos that began 2018 in the Top Ten are down -80% over the same period. This of course implies that I would have done a bit better if I’d picked different cryptos.
At no point in this experiment has this investment strategy been successful: the initial 2018 Top Ten have under-performed each of the twenty-five months compared to the market overall. There are a few examples, however, of this approach outperforming the overall market in the parallel 2019 Top Ten Crypto Experiment and, spoiler alert, the first update of the 2020 Top Ten Crypto Experiment shows that focusing on the Top Ten was a good strategy in January.
I’m also tracking the S&P 500 as part of my experiment to have a comparison point with other popular investments options. The S&P 500 is now up +21% since the beginning of 2018. My initial $1k investment into crypto would have yielded about +$210 had it been redirected to the S&P.
Taking the same $1,000 per year in January approach with the S&P 500 would yield the following:
Taken together, here’s the bottom bottom bottom line for a similar approach with the S&P:
After three $1,000 investments into an S&P 500 index fund in January 2018, 2019, and 2020, my portfolio would be worth $3,500.
That’s up about +17% (compared to +12.7% with the Top Ten Crypto Experiments).
After whimpering across the 2019 finish line, crypto has begun 2020 with a roar. A rare all green January for the 2018 Top Ten cryptos is hopefully a good sign for the year to come.
Thanks for reading and for supporting the experiment. I hope you’ve found it helpful. I continue to be committed to seeing this process through and reporting along the way. Feel free to reach out with any questions and stay tuned for progress reports. Keep an eye out for my parallel projects where I repeat the experiment twice, purchasing another $1000 ($100 each) of two new sets of Top Ten cryptos as of January 1st, 2019 then again on January 1st, 2020.