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Federal Reserve Bank Of St. Louis Adds Cryptocurrency Series



De Silva

Coinbase is sharing cryptocurrency price data with FRED, but don’t rely on it too heavily.

On June 19, 2018, the research division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis announced that Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) now includes "four series on the prices of different cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin."

At the time of writing, these cryptocurrencies possess the following market capitalizations, according to CoinMarketCap:

  • Bitcoin: $115 billion
  • Bitcoin Cash: $15 billion
  • Ethereum: $52.7 billion
  • Litecoin: $5 billion

Drawn from the Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange, the FRED data spans several years (though the newer cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin cash, obviously have shorter price histories because they haven't existed for all that long).

In addition to the individual cryptocurrency price data, FRED also provides price history for the Coinbase Index, which "tracks the overall performance of the digital assets listed on Coinbase's Exchange, GDAX." At present, the Index includes bitcoin, bitcoin cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin.

Coinbase recently announced its plan to list Ethereum Classic, so the index may soon include ETC as well.


According to the notes section on the FRED website, all cryptocurrency price data is "as of 5 PM PST" and the information is updated daily. Users can download the data in a variety of formats, including Excel, CSV, Image, PowerPoint, or PDF.

Once described by the Washington Post as "something of [a] mecca for economics," FRED is a popular tool among academics, researchers, and policy wonks. While it's terrific that the database now includes cryptocurrency price data, it's critical to note that Coinbase isn't representative of the broader markets, especially since the data doesn't provide insight into intraday volatility.

Furthermore, FRED doesn't reflect price variation between exchanges (or internationally), which is all to say that the database shouldn't become a one-stop shop for cryptocurrency studies.

Matthew De Silva

Matthew has a passion for law and technology. He graduated from Georgetown University, where he studied international economics and music. Matthew enjoys biking and listening to tech podcasts. He lives in Los Angeles.

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