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 ICOs in jumpstarting platform, the industrial organization of cryptocurrency mining pools with implications for blockchain (de-)centralization and energy consumption, 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 accepted for publication at the Review of Financial Studies, among others. I have also presented my research at many institutions and conferences including MIT, Michigan, Northwestern, NYU, Yale, UC Berkeley, National Bureau of Economic Research, Federal Reserve Bank, Securities and Exchange Commission, AFA, WFA, and Econometric SocietyI am a winner of the Yihong Xia Best paper award at CICF and Chicago Quantitative Alliance (CQA) academic paper competition, along with many other paper prizes. I teach a course on blockchain technologies to both MBA and undergraduate students, serve on the committee of Financial Crypto and Crypto Valley IEEE conference, and partner with the U.S. government and a few startups on blockchain economics research. In 2017 my students in the master program 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: 


   Invited submission to Review of Financial Studies (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 Finance Group, 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, 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 ? A typical common stock contract rewards investors in proportion to their initial investment, but is it really optimal? This paper first studies as a general contracting problem the role of profit sharing in best harnessing the wisdom of the crowd, then investigates specific FinTech applications including the security design of investment crowdfunding. 

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, forthcoming
     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

 
    Palgrave-MacMillan Handbook of Alternative Finance (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 (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. How do stock prices incorporate information in after-hours trading? I find slow prices adjustment accompanied by significant trading volume. 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 fall

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

     George Mason University MBA Core, instructor, 2016, 2017 fall

     George Mason University MS MGMT Core, instructor, 2016 fall

Financial Management
     George Mason University undergrad Core, instructor, 2016 fall

Personal Financial Management
    George Mason University undergrad Core, instructor, 2019 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

Bitcoin accepted to: 
1KxRrFXyLo2d4P1toMizuP4g1HriieZjMM