It's very likely a big part of the price increase, many of the local MMM sites advertise that they're bitcoin-only and all of the exchanges are extraordinarily shallow so small surges in demand really move prices.
Here's a pretty good article from a mid October predicting the huge run-up based on interest in MMM and how they reward posts to social media where people show off how much they've "made":
If anyone pays for better website analytics, I bet you'd find a pretty striking increase in the MMMGlobal rankings in the past month or so that corresponds pretty strongly with bitcoin price. One more note is that the exact same price runup happened in July with Litecoin based on a different Chinese ponzi scheme:
It's crazy that people are falling for this even though they reuse the MMM brand and feature Sergei Mavrodi prominently. A simple google search should tell you what you need to know about the company and the people running it. It's sad really.
However, at this point the Bitcoin price surge alone almost certainly ignited a Bitcoin speculative bubble that is self-sustaining and would continue even if MMM was shut down today. I mean look at a hockey stick graph like this, it's enough to trick people into thinking now is a good time to buy "because it's going up": http://bitcoincharts.com/charts/bitstampUSD#rg30zig6-hourztg...
This speculative bubble is taking place mostly in China right now, as all Chinese exchanges trade at a premium over American exchanges. In fact Huobi just hit 3188 CNY (503 USD): https://bitcoinwisdom.com/markets/huobi/btccny when most American exchange are at 460 USD —a 9% arbitrage opportunity!
Still an impressive gain looking at 30 days trend
Somehow I refuse to believe that this surge in price is natural.
There is no such thing as a "natural" price move in any tradeable product. The term has no meaning; all trading is based on some form of speculation or other forces.
So, the implication is it's what happens when you remove short term and artificial effects.
"natural price" https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/natural_price
A price for a good or service that is equal to the cost of production.