Bitcoin, and more generally, cryptocurrencies, are often described as a new type of money. In this post, we argue that this is a misconception. Bitcoin may be money, but it is not a new type of money. To see what is truly new about Bitcoin, it is useful to make a distinction between “money,” the asset that is being exchanged, and the “exchange mechanism,” that is, the method or process through which the asset is transferred. Doing so reveals that monies with properties similar to Bitcoin have existed for centuries. However, the ability to make electronic exchanges without a trusted party—a defining characteristic of Bitcoin—is radically new. Bitcoin is not a new class of money, it is a new type of exchange mechanism, and this type of exchange mechanism can support a variety of forms of money as well as other types of assets.
Bitcoin and other “cryptocurrencies” have been much in the news lately, in part because of their wild gyrations in value. Michael Lee and Antoine Martin, economists in the New York Fed’s Money and Payment Studies function, have been following cryptocurrencies and agreed to answer some questions about digital money.
Over the last decade, the concept of “safe assets” has received increasing attention, from regulators and private market participants, as well as researchers. This attention has led to the uncovering of some important details and nuances of what makes an asset “safe” and why it matters. In this blog post, we provide a review of the different aspects of safe assets, discuss possible reasons why they may be beneficial for investors, and give concrete examples of what these assets are in practice.
Have you ever wondered where your dollars go when you spend them? Not in financial terms, but their physical location? Well, there’s an app and a website for that.
A common refrain among critics of the Federal Reserve’s large-scale asset purchases (“LSAPs”) of Treasury securities is that the Fed is simply printing money to purchase the assets, and that this money growth will lead to much higher inflation. Are those charges accurate? In this post, I explain that the Fed’s asset purchases do not necessarily lead to higher money growth, and that the Fed’s ability (since 2008) to pay interest on banks’ reserves provides a critical new tool to constrain future money growth. With this innovation, an increase in bank reserves no longer mechanically triggers a series of responses that could lead to excessive money growth and higher inflation.