Jiasun Li



Assistant Professor of Finance
George Mason University




I received my Ph.D. in finance from UCLA Anderson School of Management and B.S. in mathematics from Fudan University (Shanghai, China) prior to joining George Mason. My current research interest is in blockchain technologies and FinTech applications. My research papers analyze the role of crypto tokens in jumpstarting platforms, the industrial organization of cryptocurrency mining pools with implications for blockchain (de-)centralization and energy consumption, factor structures in cryptocurrency returns, manipulations in crypto exchange, and the security design of investment crowdfunding for both investors and entrepreneurs to harness "wisdom of the crowd". I have also studied the theory of the firm, governance, and market microstructure. 

My research has been published at the Review of Financial Studies, among others. I am a winner of the Yihong Xia Best paper award at CICF, Chicago Quantitative Alliance (CQA) academic paper competition, and many other paper prizes. I teach a course on blockchain technologies to both MBA and undergraduate students, serve on the conference committees of Financial Crypto, ACM Advances in Financial Technologies, and IEEE Crypto Valley, and partner with the U.S. government and several startups on blockchain economics research. My students in the master program have voted me "Faculty of the Year" (one recipient per year from the entire faculty)

Research

    A non-technical overview talk on my FinTech research at UC Berkeley's Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing: 

Fintech topics: 

Direct Evidence of Bitcoin Wash Trading (with Arash Aloosh) NEW!

Leaked data from a major Bitcoin exchange reveals direct evidence for the widely-suspected “fake volume” allegation against cryptocurrency exchanges. More than 33% of the volume are among traders involved in wash trading. The exchange commits wash trading itself – not to manipulate price but to inflate apparent trading volume so as to boost commission revenues. Provide evaluations to indirect inference techniques proposed in the literature.

NBER Summer Institute, Int’l Joint Conference on Theoretical Computer Science (invited lecture), Renmin-HKBaptist-NTU joint digital-economy seminar, Louis Bachelier Forum


   Review of Financial Studies, Revise and Resubmit (previously circulated as Initial Coin Offerings and Platform Building

Whether, when, and how do ICOs make sense? By transparently distributing tokens before a peer-to-peer platform launches, an ICO overcomes later coordination failures between transacting counterparties. Our model provides guidance for both regulators and practitioners.
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, ASU SonoranUtah Winter, Jackson Hole, WFA, AFA, EFA, Bank of Canada, Chicago Financial Institutions, Southern California Private Equity, FSU SunTrust Beach, Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, Shanghai FinTech, CICF, Fudan, Emerging Trends in Entrepreneurial Finance, Crypto Valley, George Washington, SUNY (Albany) symposium on FinTech and Blockchain, Tel Aviv University, Xi'an Int'l Blockchain Workshop, Tsinghua, GSU/RFS FinTech


    The Journal of Finance, 2nd round Revise and Resubmit

    2017 "Pietro Giovannini Memorial Prize" Best Paper Award
        

When a group of investors with dispersed private information jointly invest in a risky project, how should they divide the project payoff ? We first prove as a general contracting problem the role of profit sharing in best harnessing the wisdom of the crowd, and then investigate specific FinTech applications including the security design of investment crowdfunding. A typical common stock contract which rewards investors in proportion to their initial investment is only optimal in special cases.  

Media mention: Medium Columbia Law School's Blue Sky Blog on corporations and the capital markets 

WFA, SFS Cavalcade, 
Yale (Cowles General Equilibrium)Louis Bachelier Lab (Fintech), European Retail Investment (Fintech)Emerging Trends in Entrepreneurial Finance (Stevens Institute of Technology), European Finance Association, Toronto Fintech, Philadelphia Fed FinTech, Bank of Finland, Swedish House of Finance FinTech, ISB, UCL FinTech, Finance Theory Group, American Kogod 

Decentralized Mining in Centralized Pools (with Will Cong and Zhiguo He)

     Review of Financial Studies, Volume 34, Issue 3, March 2021, Pages 1191–1235
     2018 CIFFP Excellent Paper Award


Centralization/decentralization forces in the creation and competition of mining pools: risk-sharing benefits attract independent miners to pools, leading to centralization to be moderated by cross-pool diversification and endogenous pool fees. In particular, larger pools charge higher fees, leading to disproportionately less incoming miners and a slower pool size growth. Empirical evidence from Bitcoin mining supports our model predictions.

Princeton, CUNY Baruch, NYU Stern, Michigan Ross, Yale SOM, PBC, Columbia, Cornell, Duke (Econ), Chicago Booth, Stanford GSB, Rice, Houston, Maryland, ISB, Cleveland Fed, Ant Financial, SAIF, CEPR Gerzensee, LeBow/GIC/FRB Conference on Cryptocurrencies in the Global Economy, NFA, China International Forum on Finance and Policy, FinTech, Credit and the Future of Banking Conference (Rigi Kaltbad), NFA, DataYes & ACM KDD China FinTech & AI Workshop, Becker Friedman InstituteGSU/RFS FinTechXi'an Int'l Blockchain Workshop

 
    The Palgrave Handbook of Technological Finance, forthcoming (editor Raghavendra Rau, Robert Wardrop, and Luigi Zingales, invited contribution)


    The Journal of Alternative Investments, Mar 2019, 21 (4) 56-66 (invited contribution)

An early investigation into potential factor structures in the expected returns of crypto assets: those of large market capitalization, low volatility, and high past returns tend to outperform in the following month. Hints of a factor structure emerging in crypto assets even though returns are still largely dominated by idiosyncratic noises. 

Other topics on theory of the firm, governance, and microstructure: 
 
    2016 Yihong Xia Best Paper Award from CICF    
    Best PhD Paper from 2016 EFA (Theory), 2016 KFUPM conference, and 2014 AFBC PhD Forum (1st Prize) 
    (An earlier and more extended version of Profit Sharing: A Contracting Solution to Harness the Wisdom of the Crowd) 

JMP

Simple profit-sharing contracts with decentralized control could empower individuals with their collective wisdom by coordinating actions guided by dispersed private information. This result parallels existing theories for financial markets, where the equilibrium market price achieves an information aggregation effect through rational expectations. New light shed on the nature of the firm: joint-stock companies endogenously emerge to complete the market.

MIT Sloan, Michigan Ross, UCSD Rady, CRA, NBEREconometric Society, Financial Intermediation Research Society (FIRS), Paul Woolley Centre (UTS), CEPR Gerzensee, CICF, Northwestern (Searle Center), OSU Midwest Theory, KFUPM


A quasi-natural experiment identifying the importance of professional connections in determining a firm's board composition. At the individual level, directors who share work experiences with the executives/directors of some other bankrupt firms experience on average a 6-percentage-point decline in their likelihood of finding new board positions within a year of bankruptcy filing, even though they do not hold positions at any bankrupt firms themselves. At the firm level, bankruptcy-induced network shocks reduce interlocking directorates across different industries, and further change board composition: the number of independent or new directors decreases, while average director tenure increases. Firms with less mobile directors, however, show improvements in shareholder rights and monitoring.

UCLA Anderson, CityU of Hong Kong International Finance Conference on Corporate Finance and Financial Markets, Sun Yat-Sen University Finance International Conference, FMA, SFS Cavalcade Asia-Pacific


    Journal of Trading, Summer 2016, Vol. 11, No. 3: pp. 16–31 (highlight article)
    2014 Chicago Quantitative Alliance (CQA) Annual Academic Competition Best Paper (2nd Prize)
Almost all U.S. firms now announce earnings outside of regular trading hours. I find slow stock prices adjustment accompanied by significant trading volume in after-hours trading. During 2002-2012, 5,881 rule-based trading opportunities generate an average return of 1.53% within four hours. After costs (assessed by a trading experiment), an investor who properly exploits the slow adjustment beats the market by 11.5% per year. 

Media mention: Alpha Architect

Imperial College London (Hedge Fund Centre), QWAFAFEW/Southern California Quant Network, FSU SunTrust Beach, Northern Finance Association, LBS Trans-Atlantic Doctoral Conference 

Teaching

FinTech: 
Blockchain Technologies 
     George Mason University MBA/undergrad Elective, instructor, 2018/2019/2020 fall

2016-2017 
George Mason University 
Master of Management program Faculty of the Year award 
    (
one per year 
voted by 
students
)

Managerial Economics and Decisions of the Firm, 
     George Mason University MBA Core, instructor, 2016/2017 fall

Economics for Successful Firm Management, 
     George Mason University MS MGMT Core, instructor, 2016 fall

Financial Management
     George Mason University undergrad Core, instructor, 2016/2017/2020 fall

Personal Financial Management
    George Mason University undergrad Core, instructor, 2019/2021 spring
        
Contemporary Topics in Finance: A Research & Writing Intensive Course 
    George Mason University undergrad Elective, instructor, 2021 spring

Theory of the Firm and Corporate Governance Design
     Harvard University (HCSSA Lecture, lecturer), 2015 summer

Statistical Arbitrage 
     UCLA Anderson MFE Elective, teaching assistant for Prof. Olivier Ledoit (2014/2015 Fall)

Credit Markets
     UCLA Anderson MFE Core, teaching assistant for Prof. Holger Kraft (2014/2015 Fall)

Takeovers, Restructuring, and Corporate Governance
     UCLA Anderson MBA Elective, teaching assistant for Prof. Micah Officer (2013/2014 Spring) and Prof. Stephen Greene (2013/2014 Winter)

Empirical Methods in Finance
     UCLA Anderson MFE Core, private tutor, course taught by Prof. Hanno Lustig (2013/2014 Winter)

Foundations of Finance 
     UCLA Anderson MBA Core, teaching assistant for  Prof. Brian Boyer (2012/2013 Winter)

Education

UCLA Anderson School of Management
    Ph.D in Finance, 2011-2016

Fudan University (Shanghai, China)
    B.Sc in Mathematics, 2007-2011, highest distinction