A study conducted by two Yale University economists, Yukun Liu and Aleh Tsyvinski, suggests Google search volume can predict the future price movements of top cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, ethereum, and Ripple’s XRP.
The study, titled “Risks and Returns of Cryptocurrency,” circulated by US-based think tank National Bureau of Economic Research, essentially suggests that price movements in cryptocurrency markets are a direct result of the kind of attention they receive, a metric measurable through Google search volume.
It notes that cryptocurrencies aren’t exposed to macroeconomic factors that affect the stock market, and as such the risk-return tradeoff for them is different from those of stocks, precious metals, and fiat currencies.
Per the paper, crypto markets are affected by different parameters, which mostly revolve around investor attention. Its results are based on a financial model called capital asset pricing model, or CAPM, which “describes the relationship between systematic risk and expected return for assets.”
The model is usually used with risky assets, and found that “high investor attention predicts high future returns over a 1-2 week horizon for Bitcoin, a one-week horizon for Ripple (XRP), and 1-6 week horizon for Ethereum.”
Using the model, researchers found a one-standard-deviation increase in Google’s search volume for “Bitcoin” led to a 2.3% increase in the cryptocurrency’s price within two weeks. Similarly, a one-standard-deviation increase in Twitter posts about BTC saw its price increase 2.5% within a week.
On the other hand, the study further found that negative investor attention sees crypto markets fall. When Google searches for “Bitcoin hack” increased, the cryptocurrency’s price dropped by 2.75% within a week.
The paper reads:
Our main conclusion is that indeed cryptocurrency represents an asset class that can be assessed using simple finance tools. At the same time, cryptocurrencies comprise an asset class which is radically different from traditional asset classes.
Curiously, Ethereum’s price may be somewhat affected by the stock prices of Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), one of the top manufacturers of hardware used to mine the cryptocurrency, as the paper claims there “is some evidence” pointing that way.
The study notably comes after bitcoin, the flagship cryptocurrency, endured a months-long bearish trend, along with most other cryptos, that saw its price dip from a near $20,000 all-time high to about $6,300 at press time.