Cryptocurrencies as an Asset Class: An Empirical Assessment
59 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2017 Last revised: 6 Dec 2017
Date Written: December 5, 2017
It has long been debated whether cryptocurrencies are just a passing fad, a disruptive innovation, or simply share features with standard securities. In this paper, I use a novel data set of prices, traded volumes, and market capitalization for a large set of cryptocurrencies to empirically investigate both their relationship with standard asset classes and the main driving factors behind market activity. The main empirical results suggest that there is a significant relationship between returns on cryptocurrencies and commodities such as gold and energy. Also, while volatility correlates with traded volume, the latter is primarily driven by past returns and by a short-lived effect of aggregate market uncertainty. This is consistent with existing theoretical models in which trading activity is primarily driven by investors’ sentiment. Finally, impulse-response functions from a panel Vector Autoregressive (VAR) model show that macroeconomic factors do not significantly drive trading activity in cryptocurrency markets.