Diversifying equity with cryptocurrencies during COVID-19Stephane GOUTTE, John GOODELL
Literature suggests assets become more correlated during economic downturns. The COVID-19 crisis provides an unprecedented opportunity to investigate this considerably further. Further, whether cryptocurrencies provide a diversification for equities is still an unsettled issue. We employ several econometric procedures, including wavelet coherence, and neural network analyses to rigorously examine the role of COVID-19 on the paired co-movements of four cryptocurrencies, with seven equity indices (matching countries particularly impacted by COVID-19). Our period of study includes one year prior to the onset of COVID-19, and one year during the pandemic, extending deeper into the pandemic period (February 2021) than most previous studies. We find co-movements between cryptocurrencies and equity indices gradually increased as COVID- 19 progressed. However, most of these co-movements are either modestly positively correlated, or minimal, suggesting cryptocurrencies in general do not provide a diversification benefit during either normal times or downturns. An exception, however, is the co-movement of tether. Tether co-moves negatively with equities to an economically significant degree, both pre COVID-19, and considerably more during COVID-19. Co- movements between tether and equity indices spiked sharply during identified waves of the pandemic. Tether appears to be an important safe haven during times of market turmoil, consistent with investors seeking USD liquidity during periods of volatility.