Call for Papers
Blockchain, Distributed Ledgers, and Financial Contracting
May 2-3, 2019
Cambridge, MA

Technological innovations in financial contracting, in particular those related to blockchain, distributed ledgers, and smart contracts, have potentially important implications for financial regulation. These developments alter information and contractual relationships, and hence market organization, and they create new opportunities for regulatory agencies as well. To promote research on these issues, and in particular their implications for financial market regulation, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), with the support of the Puelicher Center on Banking at the University of Wisconsin, will convene a research conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts on May 2-3, 2019. The conference will be organized by Dean Corbae (University of Wisconsin and NBER), Zhiguo He (University of Chicago and NBER), and Robert Townsend (MIT and NBER).

The conference aims to draw together researchers from financial economics, industrial organization, contract theory, and macroeconomics, along with practitioners with relevant industry and regulatory experience, to investigate how asymmetric information, market liquidity, contracting imperfections, and other features of financial markets and technological infrastructure affect regulatory design and financial stability. Potential topics for discussion at the conference include, but are not limited to:

    •    The economic foundations of cryptocurrency systems and distributed ledger technology, including smart contracts and forking;
    •    Consensus generation mechanisms like Proof-of-Work and Proof-of-Stake, and their implementations;
    •   The application of blockchain and distributed ledger technology in mechanism design problems, and the implementation of these technologies in such settings;
    •   The potential application of blockchain and smart contracts in the context of trading and security settlement, and their implications for secondary market liquidity;
    •   The role of distributed ledger technology on networks in connecting banks, other financial institutions, and non-financial firms in "financial supply chains" to deliver payments, short-term loans, or other financial services;
    •   How blockchain and distributed ledger technology alter the competitive landscape between banks and other non-bank financial institutions, and the consequences of such changes for financial stability;
    •   New approaches to financial market design and implementation in the presence of information, commitment, and spatial frictions.
The conference will include research presentations as well as panel discussions with industry experts. It may include, but will not emphasize, discussion of bitcoin and related currencies.

To be considered for inclusion on the program, papers must be uploaded here by January 20, 2019.

Submissions from authors with and without NBER affiliations are welcome and submissions from early career scholars, and from researchers from under-represented groups are especially welcome. Please do not submit papers that will be published by May 2019. Decisions about which papers will be included on the program will be announced in early February, 2019.

The NBER will cover the hotel and economy class travel cost for up to two authors per paper included on the program. All co-authors are welcome to attend the conference; space permitting, other participants are also welcome. Please direct questions about this project to

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