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Virtual Currency, Tangible Return: Portfolio Diversification with Bitcoin

Author

Listed:
  • Marie Briere
  • Kim Oosterlinck
  • Ariane Szafarz

Abstract

Bitcoin is a major virtual currency. Using weekly data over the 2010-2013 period, we analyze a Bitcoin investment from the standpoint of a U.S. investor with a diversified portfolio including both traditional assets (worldwide stocks, bonds, hard currencies) and alternative investments (commodities, hedge funds, real estate). Over the period under consideration, Bitcoin investment had highly distinctive features, including exceptionally high average return and volatility. Its correlation with other assets was remarkably low. Spanning tests confirm that Bitcoin investment offers significant diversification benefits. We show that the inclusion of even a small proportion of Bitcoins may dramatically improve the risk-return trade-off of well-diversified portfolios. Results should however be taken with caution as the data may reflect early-stage behavior which may not last in the medium or long run.

Suggested Citation

  • Marie Briere & Kim Oosterlinck & Ariane Szafarz, 2013. "Virtual Currency, Tangible Return: Portfolio Diversification with Bitcoin," Working Papers CEB 13-031, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:sol:wpaper:2013/149159
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Brière, Marie & Chapelle, Ariane & Szafarz, Ariane, 2012. "No contagion, only globalization and flight to quality," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 1729-1744.
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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Bitcoin; risk; return; diversification; virtual currency;

    JEL classification:

    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance
    • F39 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Other
    • G10 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy

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