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Optimal Delegation Under Unknown Bias: The Role of Concavity
A principal is uncertain of an agent's preferences and cannot provide monetary transfers. The principal, however, does control the discretion granted to the agent. In this paper, we provide a simple characterization of when it is optimal for the principal to screen by offering different terms of discretion to the agent. When the principal's utility is sufficiently concave, it is optimal for the principal to pool and to offer all agents the same discretion. Thus, for any number of agents and any distribution over agent preferences, the optimal contract is simple: the principal sets a cap and forbids actions above this cap (interval delegation). For less concave preferences, it is optimal for the principal to screen. The principal benefits by providing agents a choice between interval delegation and gap delegation, which allows for more extreme actions but prohibits intermediate actions. Moreover, we provide new intuition for the optimality of interval delegation when the principal knows the agent's preferences: the payoff distributions generated by sets containing gaps are mean-preserving spreads of those generated by intervals.
AUTHORS: Tanner, Noam
Beyond the Doomsday Economics of “Proof-of-Work” in Cryptocurrencies
This paper discusses the economics of how Bitcoin achieves data immutability, and thus payment finality, via costly computations, i.e., ?proof-of-work.? Further, it explores what the future might hold for cryptocurrencies modelled on this type of consensus algorithm. The conclusions are, first, that Bitcoin counterfeiting via ?double-spending? attacks is inherently profitable, making payment finality based on proof-of-work extremely expensive. Second, the transaction market cannot generate an adequate level of ?mining? income via fees as users free-ride on the fees of other transactions in a block and in the subsequent blockchain. Instead, newly minted bitcoins, known as block rewards, have made up the bulk of mining income to date. Looking ahead, these two limitations imply that liquidity is set to fall dramatically as these block rewards are phased out. Simple calculations suggest that once block rewards are zero, it could take months before a Bitcoin payment is final, unless new technologies are deployed to speed up payment finality. Second-layer solutions such as the Lightning Network might help, but the only fundamental remedy would be to depart from proof-of-work, which would probably require some form of social coordination or institutionalisation.
AUTHORS: Auer, Raphael
Embedded Supervision: How to Build Regulation into Blockchain Finance
The spread of distributed ledger technology (DLT) in finance could help to improve the efficiency and quality of supervision. This paper makes the case for embedded supervision, i.e., a regulatory framework that provides for compliance in tokenized markets to be automatically monitored by reading the market?s ledger, thus reducing the need for firms to actively collect, verify and deliver data. After sketching out a design for such schemes, the paper explores the conditions under which distributed ledger data might be used to monitor compliance. To this end, a decentralized market is modelled that replaces today?s intermediary-based verification of legal data with blockchain-enabled data credibility based on economic consensus. The key results set out the conditions under which the market?s economic consensus would be strong enough to guarantee that transactions are economically final, so that supervisors can trust the distributed ledger?s data. The paper concludes with a discussion of the legislative and operational requirements that would promote low-cost supervision and a level playing field for small and large firms.
AUTHORS: Auer, Raphael
Firm Dynamics and the Origins of Aggregate Fluctuations
What drives aggregate fluctuations? I test the granular hypothesis, according to which the largest firms in the economy drive aggregate dynamics, by estimating a dynamic factor model with firm-level data and controlling for the propagation of firm-level shocks using multi-firm growth model. Each time series, the growth rate of sales of a specific firm, is decomposed in an unobserved common macroeconomic component and in a residual that I interpret as an idiosyncratic firm-level component. The empirical results suggest that, once I control for aggregate shocks, idiosyncratic shocks do not explain much of U.S. GDP growth fluctuations.
AUTHORS: Stella, Andrea