June 2020

Global Demand for Basket-Backed Stablecoins

Garth Baughman and Jean Flemming

Abstract:

We develop a model where persistent trade shocks create demand for a basket- backed stablecoin, such as Mark Carney's "synthetic hegemonic currency" or Facebook's recent proposal for Libra. In numerical simulations, we find four main results. First, because of general equilibrium effects of the basket currency on the volatility of currency values, overall demand for that currency is small. Second, despite scant holdings of the basket, its global reach may contribute to substantial increases in welfare if the basket is widely accepted, allowing it to complement holdings of sovereign currencies. Third, we calculate the welfare maximizing composition of the basket, finding that optimal weights depend on the pattern of international acceptance, but that basket composition does not significantly affect welfare. Fourth, despite potential welfare improvements, low demand for the basket currency from buyers limits sellers' incentives to invest in accepting it, suggesting that fears of a so-called global stablecoin replacing domestic sovereign currencies may be overstated.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17016/FEDS.2020.048

PDF: Full Paper

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Last Update: June 22, 2020