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.

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.

Luciano Somoza, Tammaro Terracciano, 03 December 2019

Policymakers are concerned about the stability of private digital currencies and protecting the consumers who use them. This column, part of VoxEU debate on the future of digital money, proposes locking stablecoins into an ETF-like structure with restrictions on basket composition. Stablecoin providers would be functionally similar to ETF sponsors, and stablecoins would become a new vehicle for traditional fiat currencies. 

Jakub Červený, Jan van Ours, 28 September 2019

With the recent trends in legalisation and with the transition of illegal drug markets to the internet, much more detailed information about the price and quality of cannabis is now available, making an analysis of the determinants of prices easier. This column analyses data collected over a two-week period in 2015 from a dark web marketplace, which details about 500 cannabis prices from around 140 sellers in 18 countries. It concludes that the internet-based cannabis market is characterised by monopolistic competition, where many sellers offer differentiated products with quality variation causing dispersion of cannabis prices. 

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.

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. 

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