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Is bitcoin money? And what that means

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  • Hazlett, Peter K.
  • Luther, William J.

Abstract

In a recent article, Yermack (2015) argues that bitcoin is not money because it functions poorly as a medium of exchange, unit of account, and store of value. We offer a more conventional view. We maintain that the standard approach classifies an item as money if and only if it functions as a commonly-accepted medium of exchange. Then, we show that the demand for bitcoin is comparable to the demand for many government-issued monies. Finally, we argue that bitcoin is money—though perhaps only over a relatively small domain at present.

Suggested Citation

  • Hazlett, Peter K. & Luther, William J., 2020. "Is bitcoin money? And what that means," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 144-149.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:quaeco:v:77:y:2020:i:c:p:144-149
    DOI: 10.1016/j.qref.2019.10.003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Luther, William J., 2019. "Getting off the ground: the case of bitcoin," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(2), pages 189-205, April.
    2. William J. Luther, 2013. "Friedman Versus Hayek on Private Outside Monies: New Evidence for the Debate," Economic Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(1), pages 127-135, February.
    3. William Luther, 2016. "Mises and the moderns on the inessentiality of money in equilibrium," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 29(1), pages 1-13, March.
    4. Lawrence H. White, 2015. "The Market for Cryptocurrencies," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 35(2), pages 383-402, Spring/Su.
    5. Ricardo Lagos & Randall Wright, 2005. "A Unified Framework for Monetary Theory and Policy Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(3), pages 463-484, June.
    6. William Luther, 2014. "Evenly rotating economy: A new modeling technique for an old equilibrium construct," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 27(4), pages 403-417, December.
    7. Malavika Nair & Nicolás Cachanosky, 2017. "Bitcoin and entrepreneurship: breaking the network effect," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 30(3), pages 263-275, September.
    8. Luther, William J. & Salter, Alexander W., 2017. "Bitcoin and the bailout," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 50-56.
    9. Joshua R. Hendrickson & Thomas L. Hogan & William J. Luther, 2016. "The Political Economy Of Bitcoin," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(2), pages 925-939, April.
    10. William Luther, 2016. "Mises and the moderns on the inessentiality of money in equilibrium," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 29(1), pages 1-13, March.
    11. Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro & Wright, Randall, 1991. "A contribution to the pure theory of money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 215-235, April.
    12. Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro & Wright, Randall, 1989. "On Money as a Medium of Exchange," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 927-954, August.
    13. William J. Luther, 2016. "Cryptocurrencies, Network Effects, And Switching Costs," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(3), pages 553-571, July.
    14. Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro & Wright, Randall, 1993. "A Search-Theoretic Approach to Monetary Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 63-77, March.
    15. Hogan Thomas L. & Luther William J., 2019. "Endogenous Matching and Money with Random Consumption Preferences," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 19(2), pages 1-9, June.
    16. Peter Rupert & Martin Schindler & Andrei Shevchenko & Randall Wright, 2000. "The search-theoretic approach to monetary economics: a primer," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q IV, pages 10-28.
    17. William J. Luther, 2018. "Is Bitcoin Intrinsically Worthless?," Journal of Private Enterprise, The Association of Private Enterprise Education, vol. 33(Spring 20), pages 31-45.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Bitcoin; Medium of exchange; Money; Store of value; Unit of account;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E40 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - General
    • E41 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Demand for Money
    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System

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