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What’s common among cryptocurrencies?

Comparing crypto prices with data from Coinbase

FRED has listed the prices of certain cryptocurrencies for some time now. The FRED graph above shows four of them. Note that their prices are measured through an index number, normalized to 100 on 01-01-2018, so we can compare their growth, not their levels in actual dollars and cents.

Just eyeballing the graph reveals that they seem to largely move in unison, which is remarkable given that these prices are highly volatile. So, a significant component of their price variations must be common across all these cryptocurrencies. This commonality may come from news that pertains to all of them, such as regulation, adoption by some large player, or fiscal rulings, for example. Changes to the relative value of their counterpart, the U.S. dollar, can also play a role.

Obviously, there’s also a significant part of these price changes that is idiosyncratic to each cryptocurrency. After all, FRED’s source for these data, Coinbase, lists 5,329 different cryptocurrencies at the time of this writing; something must be differentiating them. They may have different protocols, different underlying assets (if any), different constraints on supply, and different purposes.

How this graph was created: Search for the Coinbase source in FRED, select all series, and click “Add to graph.” From the “Edit Graph” panel, change units to 100 for 2018-01-01.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.

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