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  • Being long bitcoin is the most crowded trade in the world, according to a fund manager survey conducted by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
  • The cryptocurrency has exploded higher in recent weeks as a handful of exchanges have started transacting it, offering an increased level of legitimacy.

Large fund managers can’t help themselves from chasing the explosive returns offered by bitcoin.

Their surging interest has made owning the scorching-hot cryptocurrency the market’s most crowded trade, according to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch survey of 203 fund managers overseeing $558 billion.

That so many traders are rushing to get bitcoin exposure should come as little surprise, considering its astronomic rise in recent months. The cryptocurrency has increased roughly 1,800% versus the US dollar this year, growing its market cap to more than $300 billion, according to

To be specific, 32% of investors surveyed in December said they viewed being long bitcoin as the most crowded position. Coming in second place is the long FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix Google) + BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent) trade, with 29% of responders mentioning it, BAML’s data showed.

Screen Shot 2017 12 19 at 8.27.29 AMBank of America Merrill Lynch

Bitcoin’s rise in recent weeks has been aided by measures that will allow its adoption to be more widespread, including the recent launch of futures trading by exchange group Cboe Global Markets. Just this past weekend, CME Group also commenced the trading of futures, while Nasdaq is preparing its own launch for the second half of 2018.

Still, there’s a growing chorus of market experts who don’t see bitcoin as a viable long-term investment option. Last week, Belinda Boa, BlackRock’s head of active investments for Asia-Pacific, reportedly said the cryptocurrency is showing “bubble-like valuations.” That echoed comments made by outgoing Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who called bitcoin a “highly speculative asset” at a recent press conference.

Further, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman told Business Insider in an interview last week that bitcoin is a more obvious bubble than the most recent housing crisis.

Rounding out the top three most crowded trades in BAML’s study is the short volatility trade — one that’s also been flagged by pundits as a potential weak spot for markets. While the trade itself is essentially a wager that the market will continue to sit still, many pundits have highlighted it as reflecting a potentially dangerous level of investor complacency.

The following chart shows the evolution of the BAML survey’s most crowded investment, with bitcoin re-claiming the reins in December after two months of being overtaken by the long-Nasdaq trade:

Screen Shot 2017 12 19 at 8.26.12 AMBank of America Merrill Lynch

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