Jon Danielsson, 26 March 2021

What would the world look like if Bitcoin completely displaced fiat currency? Jon Danielsson tells Tim Phillips that it wouldn't be a society that he would like to live in. 

Jon Danielsson, 26 February 2021

As the price of bitcoin continues to rise, this column argues that most of us would not want to live in a society where bitcoin succeeds. Fortunately, the internal contradictions and perverse consequences of cryptocurrencies' success mean that they are destined for failure. Until then, it might make sense for speculators to ride the cryptocurrency bubble, so long as they get out in time.

Neil Gandal, 15 January 2021

What is behind the pinballing price movements of Bitcoin? Neil Gandal tells Tim Phillips how supply and demand works for cryptocurrencies.

You can download Neil's paper, The Microeconomics of Cryptocurrencies (Neil Gandal, Joshua Gans, Guillaume Haeringer, Hanna Halaburda), free here

Hanna Halaburda, Guillaume Haeringer, Neil Gandal, Joshua Gans, 29 July 2020

Since its launch in 2009, there has been increasing interest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Initially mostly discussed in popular media, more recently a growing body of academic research has emerged on the topic, spanning many fields such as macroeconomics, law and economics, and computer science. This column focuses on the microeconomics of cryptocurrencies, specifically on their supply, demand, trading price, and the competition amongst different cryptocurrencies. It summarises the main findings in this literature over the past decade and establishes a base for future research.

Jesús Fernández-Villaverde, Daniel Sanches, Linda Schilling, Harald Uhlig, 25 April 2020

The possibility and logistics of developing a central bank digital currency for the general public has attracted significant attention. Such an initiative would require central banks to be involved in financial intermediation and maturity transformation. This column explores the implications of such a venture by central banks using a classic banking model. With sufficient competition, a central bank digital currency can be beneficial and achieve the optimal allocation of funds. However, it also risks giving central banks excessive monopoly power, which could result in inferior outcomes.

Richard K Lyons, Ganesh Viswanath-Natraj, 17 April 2020

Does stable coin issuance have an inflationary effect on cryptocurrency prices such as Bitcoin? This column argues that aggregate stable coin issuance does not drive crypto prices, in contrast to claims from previous studies. Instead, it claims that issuance behaviour can be explained as maintaining a decentralised system of exchange rate pegs and acting as a safe haven in the digital asset economy. The latter can be demonstrated by the significant stable coin premiums during the COVID-19 panic of March 2020.

Joshua Gans, Neil Gandal, 06 February 2020

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin rely on a ‘proof of work’ scheme to allow nodes in the network to ‘agree’ to append a block of transactions to the blockchain, but this scheme requires real resources (a cost) from the node. This column examines an alternative consensus mechanism in the form of proof-of-stake protocols. It finds that an economically sustainable network will involve the same cost, regardless of whether it is proof of work or proof of stake. It also suggests that permissioned networks will not be able to economise on costs relative to permissionless networks.

Wilko Bolt, Maarten R C van Oordt, 14 May 2019

What drives the volatility of Bitcoin? This column explains a theoretical framework to link exchange rates to currency creation, speculative behaviour, and real growth in goods and services transactions. It suggests that the exchange rate will be less sensitive to speculators' beliefs when a virtual currency becomes more established as a means of payment. 

Antonio Fatás, Beatrice Weder di Mauro, 26 March 2019

We should not expect a high correlation between ICO tokens and the price of Bitcoin or Ethereum given that they have very different business cases. This column demonstrates that this was indeed the case during 2007, but the moment the Bitcoin/Ethereum bubble burst, the correlation with ICOs increased and it remained high even when prices had stabilised. This may have been because the ICO market is still in its infancy and needs to mature, or it may indicate that ICOs were just one of the children of the hype and are likely to share the fate of major cryptocurrencies.

Emanuele Borgonovo, Stefano Caselli, Alessandra Cillo, Donato Masciandaro, Giovanni Rabitti, 12 March 2019

Alongside liquidity and store of value, is privacy an important attribute of money? Using laboratory experiments, the column shows that privacy matters, and increases the overall appeal of money. The experiments suggest that future competition between alternative currencies will depend on how the three properties are mixed.

Raphael Auer, 08 March 2019

Bitcoin and related cryptocurrencies are exchanged via simple technical protocols for communication between participants, as well as a publicly shared ledger of transactions known as a blockchain. This column discusses research on how cryptocurrencies verify that payments are final, that is, that they are irreversible once written into the blockchain. It points to the high costs of achieving such finality via ‘proof-of-work’ and to a crucial externality in the transaction market, and argues that with the current technology, the liquidity of cryptocurrencies is set to shrink dramatically in the years to come.

Sayuri Shirai, 06 March 2019

Recent years have seen the emergence of digital currencies such as Bitcoin as potential private sector money. Central banks are also considering whether to issue their own digital tokens to enable decentralised verification of transactions while maintaining attractive cash-like features. This column lays out the four existing proposals for implementing central bank digital currency. Due largely to technical constraints, however, central banks in general have not found a compelling reason to issue their own digital currency.

JT Hamrick, Farhang Rouhi, Arghya Mukherjee, Amir Feder, Neil Gandal, Tyler Moore, Marie Vasek, 09 January 2019

The surge of interest in cryptocurrencies has been accompanied by a proliferation of fraud, largely in the form of pump and dump schemes. This column provides the first measure of the scope of such schemes across cryptocurrencies. The results suggest that the phenomenon is widespread and often quite profitable, and highlight the need for concerted efforts from industry and regulators to fight cryptocurrency price manipulation. 

Linda Schilling, Harald Uhlig, 11 October 2018

The Bank for International Settlements has attributed the volatility of the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to the lack of a crypto central bank. This column examines the implications of this and the increasing, but bounded, supply of Bitcoin for the cryptocurrency’s price. It also discusses how the price of Bitcoin interacts with monetary policy for traditional currencies.

Raphael Auer, Stijn Claessens, 09 October 2018

Cryptocurrencies are often thought to operate out of the reach of national regulation. This column argues that in fact their valuations, transaction volumes, and user bases react substantially to news about regulatory actions. Because they rely on regulated financial institutions to operate and markets are (still) segmented across jurisdictions, cryptocurrencies are within the reach of national regulation.

Lin William Cong, Ye Li, Neng Wang, 05 October 2018

Cryptocurrencies, tokens, and the blockchain technology upon which these platforms are built hold considerable potential for financial architectures. This column presents a dynamic asset valuation model of cryptocurrencies and tokens on blockchain-based platforms. Price dynamics in the model feature explosive growth of the user base after an initial period of dormant adoption, accompanied by a run-up of token price volatility, in line with existing evidence. The findings highlight how the value of the tokens depends on user base, the quality of the blockchain platform, and users’ expectations of future token price dynamics. 

Yukun Liu, Aleh Tsyvinski, 06 September 2018

Cryptocurrencies have received a substantial amount of attention over the past year. This column uses textbook asset-pricing methods to explore how cryptocurrency returns compare with those of traditional asset classes. Results show that cryptocurrency returns do not co-move with traditional assets, but that some cryptocurrency-specific factors – namely, momentum and investor attention – strongly predict their performance. 

Markus K Brunnermeier, Joseph Abadi, 17 July 2018

Cryptocurrencies and the underlying distributed ledger technology have exploded into public consciousness over the last few years, with devotees insisting that the technology will revolutionise financial transactions and ownership data. This column identifies a ‘blockchain trilemma’ whereby no ledger can fully satisfy the three desirable properties of decentralisation, correctness, and cost-efficiency. It further explains how distributed ledgers enhance competition but introduce costs above and beyond the well-known electricity costs.

Michael Casey, Jonah Crane, Gary Gensler, Simon Johnson, Neha Narula, 16 July 2018

The idea of a new software system that powers a consensus-driven form of shared record keeping has already had a profound effect, encouraging rapid and substantial investment in what is now commonly referred to as blockchain technology. This column introduces the latest Geneva Report on the World Economy, which assesses the available evidence and likely impact for this technology across a wide range of applications and explores the potential use cases for the financial sector, and the ways in which the organisation of these activities may change over time.

Lin William Cong, Zhiguo He, 05 July 2018

Blockchain technology provides decentralised consensus, which potentially enlarges the contracting space using tamper-proof smart contracts. But this implies distributed information. The column argues that there is a tension between these two features of blockchain. While complete contracts may increase competition, distributed information may also make collusion between incumbents more effective. 



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