There are bear markets and then there are BEAR markets, meaning that although Bitcoin (BTC) can have long and severe bear markets, eventually Bitcoin (BTC) always recovers. On the other hand, the altcoin market, and particularly initial coin offering (ICO) cryptos, seem to still be stuck in the bear market of 2018, and it appears this could end up being a permanent bear market for ICOs.
Messari provides an excellent chart where they plot all of the biggest ICO cryptos from 2017, as can be seen below. Cryptocurrencies on this chart include Tron (TRX), Cardano (ADA), VeChain (VET), SALT, Nebulas (NAS), Status (SNT), TenX (PAY), QASH, Bancor (BNT), and Tezos (XTZ).
Notably, Ethereum (ETH) is plotted as well, since most of these cryptocurrencies are tokens on top of the Ethereum (ETH) network, and are typically highly correlated with the Ethereum (ETH) market.
Chart courtesy of Messari.
The chart starts in the middle of the Summer 2018, and it can be seen that the value of these ICO cryptocurrencies and Ethereum (ETH) steadily crash towards the bear market low which occurred in December 2018.
After that, these ICO cryptos, and even Ethereum (ETH) itself, have struggled to recover their losses, and are on average hovering near their 2018 bear market lows.
Zooming out, the ICO space has been absolutely hammered over the years by government regulators, and especially the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC made it illegal to conduct or participate in ICOs in the United States, and is even attacking overseas ICOs, such as the giant Telegram ICO which they recently shut down.
Further, the bear market of 2018 and the massive losses that most ICO investors incurred has caused most crypto users to be wary of putting even a single satoshi into an ICO.
Thus, data indicates that the 2018 bear market never actually ended for ICOs. Combined with the fact that ICO investment has been almost completely eliminated in the United States, it is possible that this ICO bear market is permanent, and that many of these ICO cryptos may not return to their pre-2018 levels.