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.

Dirk Niepelt, 05 February 2021

The role of central bank digital currency is increasingly being discussed, both in terms of its utility in monetary policy as well as the controversy of bank-level profit from money creation. This column presents a method for quantifying the funding cost reduction enjoyed by banks, highlighting that money creation substantially contributes to profits. This raises important questions for policymakers to address as they seek to optimise the deployment of digital currencies within financial institutions.

Raphael Auer, Giulio Cornelli, Jon Frost, 28 October 2020

Central bank digital currencies are in the limelight. Yet the motives for issuance and, relatedly, the policy approaches and designs differ. This column surveys the drivers, policy approaches and technical designs, based on a comprehensive and publicly available database. It finds that all Central bank digital currency projects aim to complement cash rather than replace it. Many projects would allow for an important role of the private sector in the payment system.

Muhammad Cheema, Robert Faff, Kenneth Szulczyk, 25 July 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the financial markets, which has triggered a flight from risky assets to safe haven assets. This column compares the performance of the safe havens across the world’s ten largest economies during COVID-19 and the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. The findings suggest that the character of safe haven assets has changed since the 2008 crisis. Gold, the traditional safe haven asset, has lost its glitter. However, the Swiss franc, the US dollar and US Treasuries retained their safe haven status, and Tether, a cryptocurrency, shows some promise.

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.

Dirk Niepelt, 03 February 2020

Central banks already issue digital money, but only to a select group of financial institutions. Central bank digital currency would extend this to households and firms. This column examines the proposal for such currency and assesses the opportunities and risks. It argues that while preparations for the launch of Libra have not proceeded according to plan, it has become clear that for central banks, maintaining the status quo is not an option.

Pierpaolo Benigno, Linda Schilling, Harald Uhlig, 03 October 2019

The governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, recently argued that more thought should be given to creating a global electronic currency. This column, part of the Vox debate on the future of digital money, looks at the challenges for the world economy of adopting a ‘world wide currency’, using a two-country world in which each country has its own national currency and national central bank, but where there is also a global currency in circulation. It suggests that Carney’s wish may be granted, but sooner than expected and in a different manner.  

Tobias Adrian, Tommaso Mancini-Griffoli, 09 September 2019

New entrants are vying to occupy the space once used by paper bills. This column, part of the VoxEU debate on the future of digital money, proposes a simple framework to make sense of who is attempting to pry our wallets open. It argues that the adoption of new digital means of payment could be rapid and bring significant benefits to customers and society, but that the risks must be tackled with innovative approaches and heightened collaboration across borders and sectors. One approach is for central banks to engage in a public–private partnership with fintech firms to provide a safe, liquid, and digital alternative to cash: synthetic central bank digital currency.

Stephen Cecchetti, Antonio Fatás, 29 August 2019

The announcement of the launch of Libra, a private global cryptocurrency, has reignited the debate on the costs and benefits of digital forms of payments controlled by the private sector. This column introduces a new Vox debate on the future of digital money intended to foster a conversation among academics and policymakers about the costs and benefits of some of these innovations and future scenarios for digital money.

Siddharth Bhambhwani, Stefanos Delikouras, George Korniotis, 24 August 2019

We do not know which characteristics affect cryptocurrency prices, if any. The column argues that there are two fundamental factors that drive prices in the long run: the trustworthiness of the cryptocurrency’s blockchain and the adoption of the blockchain. Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Monero are affected by these fundamentals. In some periods prices deviate, but eventually retrace the trend.

Lucrezia Reichlin, 31 July 2019

Lucrezia Reichlin looks to a future where new cryptocurrency technologies will be used for payment systems, but the money behind them will remain a monopoly of the central banks.

Pierpaolo Benigno, 26 April 2019

Cryptocurrencies have attracted the attention of consumers, policymakers and the media. This column investigates whether they can jeopardise the primary function of central banks, namely, controlling inflation and economic activity. Currency competition can succeed in calming inflation and preventing the sort of manipulation of interest rates and prices to which governments have historically been prone. But currency competition may also lead to government money losing the function of medium of exchange, which could be risky and lead government currency into further troubles. 

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.

Marlene Amstad, 21 March 2019

Two events have shaped the financial system over the past ten years: the Global Crisis and the rise of fintech. But while the lessons learned after the crisis have been widely discussed and the regulatory response broadly agreed upon, the question of whether and how to regulate fintech is a topic of an ongoing policy debate. This column discusses the three basic options that regulators have: ignore it, ‘duck type’ rules into existing regulations, or specifically tailor new regulations.

David Andolfatto, 17 March 2019

The idea of a central bank digital currency has prompted a mixed reaction among economists. This column uses a simple theoretical framework to investigate the impact of such a currency on a monopolistic banking sector. There are two main results. First, the introduction of an interest-bearing digital currency increases financial inclusion, diminishing the demand for physical cash. Second, while an interest-bearing digital currency reduces monopoly profit, it need not disintermediate banks in any way. A central bank digital currency may, in fact, lead to an expansion of bank deposits if the resulting competition compels banks to raise their deposit rates.

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.

Antonio Fatás, 05 March 2019

In recent years, the arrival of new financial technologies has opened a debate about the extent of their implications for the nature of money, the way new ventures are funded, and so on. This column introduces a new Vox eBook that summarises current research on the impact of these changes and how to manage the possible disruption in financial markets, where governance and regulation are central.

Tommaso Mancini-Griffoli, Maria Soledad Martinez Peria, Itai Agur, Anil Ari, John Kiff, Adina Popescu, Céline Rochon, Zoltan Jakab, 15 February 2019

Joshua Aizenman, 12 February 2019

The fall in valuation of Bitcoin has led to a debate over whether decentralised currencies can be reliably stable. This column argues that in contrast to the success of inflation-targeting regimes, there is no feasible path towards stability of a decentralised currency. The instability of cryptocurrencies is the outcome of a systemic 'tragedy of the commons' coordination failure. This is inherent in their design.

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