William Cong

Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: Cornell University

NBER Working Papers and Publications

May 2020Tokenomics: Dynamic Adoption and Valuation
with Ye Li, Neng Wang: w27222
We develop a dynamic asset-pricing model of cryptocurrencies/tokens that allow users to conduct peer-to-peer transactions on digital platforms. The equilibrium value of tokens is determined by aggregating heterogeneous users' transactional demand rather than discounting cashflows as in standard valuation models. Endogenous platform adoption builds upon user network externality and exhibits an S-curve — it starts slow, becomes volatile, and eventually tapers off. Introducing tokens lowers users' transaction costs on the platform by allowing users to capitalize on platform growth. The resulting intertemporal feedback between user adoption and token price accelerates adoption and dampens user-base volatility.
February 2019Decentralized Mining in Centralized Pools
with Zhiguo He, Jiasun Li: w25592
The rise of centralized mining pools for risk sharing does not necessarily undermine the decentralization required for permissionless blockchains: Each individual miner's cross-pool diversification and endogenous fees charged by pools generally sustain decentralization, because larger pools better internalize their externality on global hash rates, charge higher fees, attract disproportionately fewer miners, and thus grow more slowly. Instead, mining pools as a financial innovation escalate the arms race among competing miners and thus significantly increase the energy consumption of proof-of-work-based consensus mechanisms. Empirical evidence from Bitcoin mining supports our model predictions. The economic insights inform many other blockchain protocols as well as the industrial organizat...
May 2018Policy Uncertainty and Innovation: Evidence from IPO Interventions in China
with Sabrina T. Howell: w24657
Public equity is an important source of risk capital, especially in China. The Chinese government has occasionally suspended IPOs, exposing firms already approved to IPO to indeterminate listing delays. The temporary bar on going public increases uncertainty about access to public markets for affected firms. We show that suspension-induced delay reduces corporate innovation activity both during the delay and for years after listing. Negative effects on tangible investment and positive effects on leverage are temporary, consistent with financial constraints during the suspensions being resolved after listing. Our results suggest that predictable, well-functioning IPO markets are important for firm value creation. They demonstrate that corporate innovation is cumulative and is negatively aff...
March 2018Blockchain Disruption and Smart Contracts
with Zhiguo He: w24399
Blockchain technology provides decentralized consensus and potentially enlarges the contracting space using smart contracts with tamper-proofness and algorithmic executions. Meanwhile, generating decentralized consensus entails distributing information which necessarily alters the informational environment. We analyze how decentralization affects consensus effectiveness, and how the quintessential features of blockchain reshape industrial organization and the landscape of competition. Smart contracts can mitigate informational asymmetry and improve welfare and consumer surplus through enhanced entry and competition, yet the irreducible distribution of information during consensus generation may encourage greater collusion. In general, blockchains can sustain market equilibria with a wider ...

Published: Lin William Cong & Zhiguo He, 2019. "Blockchain Disruption and Smart Contracts," The Review of Financial Studies, vol 32(5), pages 1754-1797.

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