This is a list of some resources we have found valuable and think you might, too. It’s a selection of our favorites rather than an attempt to include everything. The resources extend from quantitative tools like ours to long-form research and academic papers. This list, like our website, is probably more useful for investors rather than anyone looking for particularly technical resources. We do not have partnerships with any of these organizations, nor were we paid to include anything on the list. This list is subjective and not intended to be complete or exhaustive.
Indexes: Bletchley Indexes, Smith + Crown, CRIX, Bitwise Hold 10
Rankings sites: CryptoCompare, CoinGecko, Onchainfx
Data: BitInfoCharts, CoinDance, Blockchain.info, Token Data
Tools and dataviz: Sifrdata, Correlations, MapOfCoins, CryptoMaps, Bitcoin Volatility Index
Blogs: Willy Woo, Ari Paul, Matt Levine, Elaine Ou, Chris Burniske, Token Economy, Preston Byrne, Tuur Demeester
Research: Ark Invest, Grayscale, Coindesk, Smith + Crown, Ledger
Selected papers: Wang and Vergne (2017), Naranayan et al (2017), Carter (2017), Garcia et al (2014)
Advocacy: Coin Center
Books: Digital Gold; Cryptoassets: The Innovative Investor’s Guide to Bitcoin and Beyond; The Bitcoin Standard: Sound Money in a Digital Age
We discuss the pros and cons of indexing strategies in this post. The landscape hasn’t changed much since then. We still think Bletchley Indexes offer the most thoughtful and consistent approach to index construction. They have also added the ERC-20 token index recently, along with extractable data. Keep an eye on them. Smith + Crown and a team of academics at CRIX also run indexes; we cover them in the blog post.
New to the scene is Bitwises’ Hold 10 Index. It incorporates some of the innovations that have been publicly discussed over the last few months. True to the name it tracks 10 large caps; but it weights them by 5 year inflation. This means Zcash, for instance, has a relatively large share of the index due to its inflation. The argument here is that the market has incorporated inflation rates into its valuations, and that those future coins should be considered in a valuation today. We’re cheered to see such sophistication in index design. Unlike the others, this is an investable index available to accredited investors.
Data sources and rankings
We like CryptoCompare for extractable historical data. They have a great API too.
CoinGecko creates very interesting quantitative rankings. They offer a refreshing alternative to the CoinMarketCap school of ranking which is rather uncritical at times, and promotes the misleading “market cap” indicator. CoinGecko grades cryptoassets on developer activity, the strength of community, and the amount of public interest, building a quality indicator which can help investors avoid dead or stagnating projects.
We are inspired by BitInfoCharts; they offer an absolute treasure trove of blockchain data.
CoinDance do valuable work to illuminate the bitcoin ecosystem, especially when it comes to decoding what the miners are up to.
Blockchain.info have a fantastic assortment of data and charts, and we wish this sort of information existed for every cryptocurrency.
For tokens (something we don’t spend very much time on), Tokendata is a clean and minimalistic data source evidencing that most large tokensales have been fairly poor investments thus far.
Onchainfx is a stunning product. Onchain does a few interesting things; it focuses on the impact of monetary policy on valuation, which has been a sorely overlooked topic until now. Most interestingly, it lays out clearly the float and pending supply of a set of major cryptoassets, and extrapolates network value to 2050, assuming no change in unit price. This lets investors very easily measure the impact inflation will have on various cryptoasset networks. Another interesting indicator that holds a lot of promise is the ‘Vladimir club cost;’ or what it would cost to own 1% of 1% of the asset’s eventual supply. Onchainfx is a great product and I’m sure it’ll keep getting better.
Tools and visualizations
Sifrdata is a really unique resource. People with a finance or statistics background will really appreciate it. It covers rolling correlations, sharpe ratios, correlation clustering, the distribution of returns, and volatility of major cryptocurrencies, among other things.
If you like mean-variance optimization, and want a dynamic correlation tool with a lot of choice, play around with this excellent correlation matrix, developed by Jonas Verhoelen.
MapOfCoins is a very cool evolutionary graph of a huge number of cryptoassets, and lets you easily determine their history. It’s sadly not being updated at present, but nevertheless still very interesting.
CryptoMaps is a real-time visualization of the market heavily inspired by Finviz. It’s currently somewhat flawed due to odd segmentation decisions, and a lower limit on the size of the rectangles representing small-caps, which results in the inclusion of many ultra small caps that probably don’t merit consideration in the sample. Nevertheless it’s an easy way to picture how the market is faring in real time. You’ll notice that it’s heavily correlated.
The Bitcoin Volatility Index is a nifty site set up by Jordan Tuwiner, the fella who created the Bitcoin obituaries. Since so many finance professionals insist Bitcoin can’t be a store of value since it’s too volatile, it’s nice to have a visualization on hand. The site also does Ethereum and Litecoin.
Blogs we read
Willy Woo doesn’t just write a blog. His indicators, visualizations, and models are incredibly influential. I’d classify almost every post on his page as a must-read. His charts page in particular is very illuminating. To the best of our knowledge, Willy devised the market to transaction value (MTV ratio), which he now calls the network value to transactions ratio (NVT ratio).
Ari Paul hasn’t been active in the cryptoasset space very long since migrating from traditional asset management, but he has become very influential. Now launching a cryptoasset fund, Ari may become more limited in what he has to say, so treasure his posts while you still can.
Matt Levine doesn’t exclusively cover cryptoassets, but his popular daily column for Bloomberg has become dominated by the topic of late, or as he calls it, “blockchain blockchain blockchain.” Matt is continually entertained by the stories of ICOs, hacks, novel financial products, and market manipulation, and he expresses his generally skeptical view in a fairly good-natured way. The main lesson from his column is that there is nothing new under the sun; only new ways to do old things.
I don’t have much to say about Elaine Ou’s fantastic blog aside from the fact that it’s an absolute gem.
Chris Burniske pushes the envelope on valuation models, which he generously publishes for everyone’s benefit. Chris also popularized the market to transaction value measure which we use here. He is also thoughtful about nomenclature; Chris is probably responsible for the shift to “cryptoasset,” and he’s leading the charge in leaving the misleading “market cap” behind in favor of “network value.”
Token Economy is a weekly newsletter run by Stefano Bernardi and Yannick Roux that does an excellent job of distilling the most important developments in the space. It includes new launches, commentary, links to influential posts, and occasionally some criticism, which is useful.
If you are in the mood for a much more skeptical look at cryptoassets and tokens, Preston Byrne runs a blog which can safely be described as contrarian. Preston is a UK-trained lawyer with a penchant for unraveling some of the more extravagant claims made by founders and promoters. Investors owe it to themselves to consider tail risks and regulatory action, and Preston’s blog is an excellent starting point.
The well-known Bitcoin investor and industry critic Tuur Demeester doesn’t write very often, but when he does, it’s worth reading.
You may perceive the constituents of this list as too fond of bitcoin or overly skeptical; if any commentators emerge with a thoughtful defense of ICO mania, we will gladly include them.
The investment management firm Ark Invest posts frequently on bitcoin’s investable qualities. They were well ahead of the game, voicing this conviction and taking a public position in the troughs of the 2015 bear market, well before the recent market inflection. Their research can be found here but the essential reading is their white paper: Bitcoin: Ringing the Bell for a New Asset Class. The essential contention is that cryptocurrencies represent a radically new asset class, crucially different from commodities, currencies, and property (which they are commonly compared to) along three dimensions: politico-economic features, correlations of returns, and the nature of return profiles. This is vital reading for those crossing over from the traditional finance world of sharpe ratios and mean variance optimization.
The Digital Currency Group cannot be overlooked when it comes to digital asset markets. One overlooked contribution of theirs to the space is investment research. Grayscale released an excellent investment thesis for Ethereum Classic [pdf warning] to support the launch of their ETC fund back in May. Whether or not you agree with their criticisms of Ethereum, this may indeed become the template for cryptoasset investment theses. It describes key aspects of investability which are crucial for investors: history and launch; governance; economics and monetary policy; target market size; incentive structures.
The DCG subsidiary, Coindesk, boasts the most comprehensive and professional industry research setup in the space. Much of it is public but some key reports are paywalled, which isn’t surprising given the rigor and detail. One of the pitfalls of issuing research in such a fast-moving sector is the near-instant obsoletion of your work. Their Q1 2017 “State of Blockchain” looks curiously out of date now, boasting of the $25b cryptocurrency market cap and ICO funds totaling $36m. However, these reports are invaluable – especially if you’re an institutional investor needing to justify your investment to skeptical clients.
The excellent Smith + Crown win a spot for their contributions to research. They have created a searchable repository of digital currency-related publications which aggregates a huge amount of papers, tagged appropriately. Additionally, they have written a good number of currency profiles, covering even relatively obscure ones in detail.
Finally, you have good old academia. Last year, Ledger, a bespoke peer reviewed digital currency journal, was launched to publish some of the best work in the space. It is not exclusively technical in content, either. The inaugural issue had a refreshingly varied set of articles, from a largely impenetrable post on ring confidential transactions, to a work of political philosophy comparing governance structures on blockchains to the contract theory of Hobbes, Rousseau, and Rawls.
Recent articles that have caught our attention include the BlockSci working paper, created to accompany the open source BlockSci tool for blockchain analysis. This represents a significant improvement in the tools available to the public for answering difficult questions about popular blockchains. They use the tool to demonstrate an attack on Dash’s privacy, to show how multisig transactions hurt confidentiality, and interestingly, to make better estimates about the velocity of major cryptocurrencies.
Another paper we like is Buzz Factor or Innovation Potential: What Explains Cryptocurrencies’ Returns? by Wang and Vergner which unpacks the return drivers of major cryptocurrencies over a yearlong period. They find that, when accounting for various factors, that buzz is negatively associated with weekly returns. Attention should be given to their methodology which quantifies developer activity to try to capture innovation.
While its inclusion is somewhat nepotistic, we believe this paper is also important. It is written by one of Coinmetrics’ creators. The 2017 paper A Cross-Sectional Overview of Cryptoasset Governance and Implications for Investors is a master’s thesis covering governance structures in the industry. It has a useful survey of the top 50 circulating cryptoassets by network value (as of July 29) with detailed analysis of the governance models on display. The paper is aimed at educating investors about the relative lack of shareholder (tokenholder) rights in the industry. It also discusses a few of the functioning models of cryptoasset governance.
Garcia et al’s 2014 paper The digital traces of bubbles: feedback cycles between socio-economic signals in the Bitcoin economy may be dated by cryptocurrency standards, but it is still a thorough exposition of the relationship between social sentiment and Bitcoin price. They cover an early period in Bitcoin’s history, but the relationships. Rather than naively correlating google trends and bitcoin price like other academics do, Garcia et al notice a feedback loop between social buzz and price. This means that search volumes combine with price rises to drive positive loops which cause reflexive bitcoin behavior – in both directions. A full awareness of these relationships is absolutely vital to unpacking sentiment data.
Coin Center is a nonprofit think tank based in Washington D.C. which seeks to educate policymakers about cryptocurrencies and advocate for reasonable and fair regulation. They also serve the dual purpose of educating members of the public about the latest regulatory developments. The US is only one among many countries that can regulate digital currencies and tokens, but given that regulators like to follow the leader, what happens in US Congress tends to reverberate worldwide. Coin Center boasts impressive access to Congress, and they produce pithy explainers for journalists and original research to boot.
Investors who know the history of alternative currencies know that regulators can be an existential threat. Bitcoin and its many descendants are decentralized and hence largely immune to being closed down by regulators, but they can still be hamstrung if, for instance, exchanging fiat for digital currency is suddenly outlawed.
The value of digital currencies and cryptoassets is evident to everyone involved in the space, but regulators and the media need a bit more convincing. Coin Center does very useful things like proposing a safe harbor framework for nodes, thus protecting users from being accountable for the money-transmitting implications of node traffic; clarifying whether or not cryptocurrencies should be treated as securities; and explaining why bitcoin isn’t to blame for ransomware attacks.
Many bitcoiners and digital currency enthusiasts would be surprised to hear that they have advocates in frequent contact with US Congress, helping establish a fair framework for eventual regulation. It’s a dirty word to many, but regulation does not mean closing down all digital currency activity, but could instead mean consumer protection, clarifying securities laws, simplifying money transmitter frameworks, protecting individuals from exchange failures, and so on. Coin Center has flown under the radar thus far but deserves to be a key element of your research if you care about the long-term health of the digital currency market.
There are a surprising number of books already published about this novel industry. Nathaniel Popper’s Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money is a very thorough look at Bitcoin’s history, pre-history, and political underpinnings. It is largely non-technical, but is essential reading for anyone seeking an understanding of why the digital currency is so popular. Everyone I have referred this book to has subsequently bought Bitcoin. It is about a year out of date, which is an eon in the cryptocurrency world, but it is still a very worthwhile read. Where else will you learn about the impact Mark Karpeles’ cat Tibanne had on the history of Bitcoin?
Chris Burniske and coauthor Jack Tatar jumped into the fray with their offering, entitled Cryptoassets: The Innovative Investor’s Guide to Bitcoin and Beyond. This to our knowledge is the first book-length approach of these assets from an investment standpoint. Chris has great credentials in the space and this is a vital read. It is a nicely-paced read which enables investors with any level of expertise gain an understanding of the asset class. The sections on taxonomy and valuation are particularly valuable.
Lastly, Saifedean Ammous is publishing The Bitcoin Standard: Sound Money in a Digital Age in hardback early next year. He made early drafts available to the public, and if the finished product is anything like those, this book will be very influential. It’s a look at the economics of the system and how bitcoin can underpin a new era of sound money. Importantly, is plainly and comprehensibly written with no excessive ornamentation or jargon. Anyone can find value in this book; it’s not just for economists or technologists.
Other books aren’t on this list because I haven’t read them. If you have a burning desire to have them included in this list, feel free to send them our way.
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We hope you have found this list useful. If you think something deserves to be on here, get in touch at @coinmetrics. We can’t guarantee we’ll put it on there – this list is mainly for resources which we have actively benefited from. This list is actively curated.
Last updated: November 19.