Is Bitcoin Really Un-Tethered?

  • Griffin J
  • Shams A
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Abstract

This paper investigates whether Tether, a digital currency pegged to U.S. dollars, influences Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency prices during the recent boom. Using algorithms to analyze the blockchain data, we find that purchases with Tether are timed following market downturns and result in sizable increases in Bitcoin prices. Less than 1% of hours with such heavy Tether transactions are associated with 50% of the meteoric rise in Bitcoin and 64% of other top cryp-tocurrencies. The flow clusters below round prices, induces asymmetric autocorrelations in Bitcoin, and suggests incomplete Tether backing before month-ends. These patterns cannot be explained by investor demand proxies but are most consistent with the supply-based hypothesis where Tether is used to provide price support and manipulate cryptocurrency prices.

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Griffin, J. M., & Shams, A. (2018). Is Bitcoin Really Un-Tethered? SSRN Electronic Journal. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3195066

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