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LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07:  A visual representation of the digital Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin on December 07, 2017 in London, England. Cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Lightcoin have seen unprecedented growth in 2017, despite remaining extremely volatile. While digital currencies across the board have divided opinion between financial institutions, and now have a market cap of around 175 Billion USD, the crypto sector coninues to grow, as it continues to see wider mainstreem adoption. The price of one Bitcoin passed 15,000 USD across many exchanges today taking it higher than previous all time highs.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
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LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07: A visual representation of the digital Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin on December 07, 2017 in London, England. Cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Lightcoin have seen unprecedented growth in 2017, despite remaining extremely volatile. While digital currencies across the board have divided opinion between financial institutions, and now have a market cap of around 175 Billion USD, the crypto sector coninues to grow, as it continues to see wider mainstreem adoption. The price of one Bitcoin passed 15,000 USD across many exchanges today taking it higher than previous all time highs. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
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(CNN Business) —  

What a difference a year makes for bitcoin.

In December 2017, bitcoin prices hit a record high of just under $20,000. Flash forward to December 2018 and bitcoin is now trading a little below $3,400. That’s a more than 80% plunge. Bitcoin is at a 15-month low.

But prices have really gotten whacked this week, falling nearly 20% in just the past five days alone.

Bitcoin isn’t the only cryptocurrency getting hit either. Ripple/XRP, ethereum, stellar, litecoin and numerous other cryptocurrencies have plunged in the past week.

Little tangible news can explain or justify the current crypto carnage.

One possible reason is that a pro-crypto member of the Securities and Exchange Commission warned at a conference this week that she’s fighting an uphill battle trying to convince the rest of the SEC to approve more bitcoin exchange traded funds.

“Don’t hold your breath. I do caution people to not live or die on when a crypto or bitcoin ETF gets approved,” said SEC commissioner Hester Peirce.

That’s not a good sign. Peirce’s comments probably mean hopes for a bitcoin ETF getting approved anytime soon have been dashed, according to long-term bitcoin bull Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst with Think Markets UK Ltd.

Aslam argued that bitcoin prices could wind up plummeting below $2,000 and even test the $1,500 level.

“Simply put, the bad news keeps coming just like cockroaches coming out of a hole,” Aslam wrote in a report.

More downside could be ahead simply because the price of bitcoin and many other digital currencies just ran up so sharply last year. It was a parabolic move that defied reason, similar to internet stocks in the late 1990s – a classic mania.

Nearly two-thirds of money managers surveyed by asset management firm Natixis still thought that cryptocurrencies were a bubble, the firm reported this week.