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Market risk and Bitcoin returns

Dimitrios Koutmos ()
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Dimitrios Koutmos: Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Annals of Operations Research, 2020, vol. 294, issue 1, No 20, 453-477

Abstract: Abstract Bitcoin is emerging as a distinct asset class among investors given its seemingly detached price behavior relative to market and economic fundamentals. Its incomparably high returns in recent years has further fuelled intense interest and investment into Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies at large. This paper cautions that Bitcoin prices, despite their seemingly attractive independent behavior relative to economic variables, may still be exposed to the same types of market risks which afflict the performance of conventional financial assets. Using a Markov regime-switching model to distinguish between regimes of high and low Bitcoin price volatility, this paper shows that while returns on the aggregate market portfolio cannot explain Bitcoin returns, other asset pricing risk factors, such as interest rates and implied stock market and foreign exchange market volatilities, are important determinants of Bitcoin returns. Distinguishing between periods of high and low Bitcoin price volatility reveals heterogeneity in the explanatory power of market risk factors; in particular, Bitcoin returns are more difficult to explain during periods of high volatility relative to periods with low volatility. This finding can partially explain why extant studies, which neglect to distinguish between exchange rate regimes in Bitcoin, have difficulty linking Bitcoin prices to economic fundamentals.

Keywords: Asset pricing; Bitcoin; Markov switching model; Risk-return tradeoff (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: G12 G17 G23 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1007/s10479-019-03255-6

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