Bitcoin advanced impressively over the holiday period. The cryptocurrency has gained almost 35% over the past two weeks, according to data from industry specialist CoinDesk. We are cautious about over-interpreting trends in this speculative asset. The total value of the Bitcoin market may now be about $16 billion. That size is smaller than the market capitalization of the Sri Lankan stock exchange. But investors should offer cryptocurrencies some analytical shelf space. Bitcoin, Ethereum, and others represent an emerging shift from traditional stores of value—such as US dollars and gold—especially in the developing world. Chinese demand is well established; Indian activity is now growing because of demonetization. In a crisis context, Venezuela provides a case study in managing hyperinflation.

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