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COVID-19 Stimulus Checks Fueled 'Modest' Jump in Bitcoin Price Last Year: Cleveland Fed

Policymakers should not be concerned, the researchers wrote: Only 0.02% of coronavirus-relief checks ended up in bitcoin.

Jul 16, 2021 at 4:22 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 1:26 p.m. UTC

The first round of stimulus checks in the U.S. in April 2020 fueled a “significant but modest” bump in bitcoin trading volume and price, according to a study from the Federal Reserve’s Cleveland branch that was posted Friday.

Central bank researchers estimated the government’s $1,200 stimulus checks sent to Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic fueled a 3.8% jump in trading volume and a 0.7% rise in price. Overall, they estimated just 0.02% of the stimulus money ended up in bitcoin.

Framed against bitcoin’s wild volatility, these figures don’t add up to much. Further noting a 0.07% “permanent price increase,” the researchers said their findings are “modest compared to the 4.6% standard deviation” in bitcoin’s daily price swings. Nevertheless, the researchers said the jumps were “statistically significant.”

The findings add some hard data to lockdown-era whispers of a government-fueled surge in $1,200 bitcoin buys. Those purchases were happening, the researchers found, but almost exclusively among young, single investors with moderate incomes.

“This is consistent with the picture of a typical Bitcoin investor painted by surveys,” the researchers noted. Groups with a more acute need for stimulus payments, like families and the unemployed, did not ape in, they found.

Japan and South Korea also saw measurable bumps in their bitcoin markets after their governments’ respective stimulus rounds, according to the researchers.

Policymakers “should not be concerned” that crypto markets will gobble up future stimulus payments, the researchers said.

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