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Booms, busts and heavy-tails: The story of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency markets?


  • Fry, John


We develop bespoke rational bubble models for Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies that incorporate both heavy tails and the probability of a complete collapse in asset prices. Empirically, we present robustified evidence of bubbles in Bitcoin and Ethereum. Theoretically, we show that liquidity risks may generate heavy-tails in Bitcoin and cryptocurrency markets. Even in the absence of bubbles dramatic booms and busts can occur. We thus sound a timely note of caution.

Suggested Citation

  • Fry, John, 2018. "Booms, busts and heavy-tails: The story of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency markets?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 171(C), pages 225-229.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolet:v:171:y:2018:i:c:p:225-229
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econlet.2018.08.008

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gkillas, Konstantinos & Katsiampa, Paraskevi, 2018. "An application of extreme value theory to cryptocurrencies," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 109-111.
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    Cited by:

    1. Corbet, Shaen & Lucey, Brian & Urquhart, Andrew & Yarovaya, Larisa, 2019. "Cryptocurrencies as a financial asset: A systematic analysis," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 182-199.
    2. Cheng, Jiameng & Dai, Yanke, 2020. "Is bitcoin a channel of capital inflow? Evidence from carry trade activity," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 261-278.
    3. Luo, Min & Kontosakos, Vasileios E. & Pantelous, Athanasios A. & Zhou, Jian, 2019. "Cryptocurrencies: Dust in the wind?," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 525(C), pages 1063-1079.
    4. Kajtazi, Anton & Moro, Andrea, 2019. "The role of bitcoin in well diversified portfolios: A comparative global study," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 143-157.
    5. Aurelio F. Bariviera & Ignasi Merediz-Sol`a, 2020. "Where do we stand in cryptocurrencies economic research? A survey based on hybrid analysis," Papers 2003.09723,
    6. Chaim, Pedro & Laurini, Márcio P., 2019. "Nonlinear dependence in cryptocurrency markets," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 32-47.
    7. Khanh Hoang & Cuong C. Nguyen & Kongchheng Poch & Thang X. Nguyen, 2020. "Does Bitcoin Hedge Commodity Uncertainty?," Journal of Risk and Financial Management, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 13(6), pages 1-14, June.
    8. Corbet, Shaen & Larkin, Charles & Lucey, Brian & Meegan, Andrew & Yarovaya, Larisa, 2020. "Cryptocurrency reaction to FOMC Announcements: Evidence of heterogeneity based on blockchain stack position," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 46(C).
    9. de la Horra, Luis P. & de la Fuente, Gabriel & Perote, Javier, 2019. "The drivers of Bitcoin demand: A short and long-run analysis," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 21-34.
    10. Li, Mu-Yao & Cai, Qing & Gu, Gao-Feng & Zhou, Wei-Xing, 2019. "Exponentially decayed double power-law distribution of Bitcoin trade sizes," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 535(C).
    11. Guglielmo Maria Caporale & Woo-Young Kang & Fabio Spagnolo & Nicola Spagnolo, 2020. "Cyber Attacks, Spillovers and Contagion in the Cryptocurrency Markets," CESifo Working Paper Series 8324, CESifo.
    12. Shanaev, Savva & Sharma, Satish & Ghimire, Binam & Shuraeva, Arina, 2020. "Taming the blockchain beast? Regulatory implications for the cryptocurrency Market," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 51(C).
    13. Constandina Koki & Stefanos Leonardos & Georgios Piliouras, 2019. "A Peek into the Unobservable: Hidden States and Bayesian Inference for the Bitcoin and Ether Price Series," Papers 1909.10957,
    14. Andrea Flori, 2019. "Cryptocurrencies In Finance: Review And Applications," International Journal of Theoretical and Applied Finance (IJTAF), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 22(05), pages 1-22, August.
    15. Vidal-Tomás, David & Ibáñez, Ana M. & Farinós, José E., 2019. "Herding in the cryptocurrency market: CSSD and CSAD approaches," Finance Research Letters, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 181-186.
    16. De Pace, Pierangelo & Rao, Jayant, 2020. "Comovement and Instability in Cryptocurrency Markets," Economics Department, Working Paper Series 1012, Economics Department, Pomona College, revised 14 Jan 2020.

    More about this item


    Bitcoin; Bubbles; Cryptocurrencies; Econophysics; Liquidity risk;

    JEL classification:

    • C1 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General
    • E4 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates
    • G1 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets


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