Economists have much to offer the fast-paced world of cryptocurrencies, as evidenced by a discussion event held at City, University of London.

By Chris Lines (Senior Communications Officer), Published (Updated )

In a collaborative project between City’s Alumni Team, its Department of Economics and the Employer Engagement team in its Careers Service, some 70 people recently attended a panel discussion about cryptocurrencies.

The event was hosted by the Head of the Economics Department Professor Giulia Iori and a panel of experts chaired by Dr Spyros Galanis, discussed the theory and practice of the economics and finance of cryptocurrencies before an audience including 31 alumni and 16 current students as well as other external guests.

Dr Galanis is a Reader in the Department of Economics at City, University of London and has been consulting on blockchain and cryptocurrencies. His research interests include decision theory, game theory, finance and experiments.

After a welcome speech by Professor Iori, the panel discussed the connection between the academic ideas from economics and game theory that are the building blocks of cryptocurrencies (such achieving consensus, digital scarcity, attacks on the blockchain, anonymity, mechanism design), and the practical side of investing in crypto assets and developing new products and processes.

There then followed a Q&A and a networking drinks reception.

Speakers included:

  • James Bennett, CEO of ByteTree, a provider of real time crypto-asset data, fundamentals and blockchain market analysis. James runs the London blockchain Meetup and was an invited expert to the world’s largest blockchain hackathon.
  • Peter Habermacher, CEO and Co-Founder of Aaro Capital, responsible for the strategic direction of the firm as well as integrating rigorous economic thinking into the asset allocation process.
  • Dr Jan Christoph Schlegel, Lecturer in Economics at City, University of London. Dr Schlegel is an expert on distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) and auction design. His research interests include market design, game theory and mechanism design.
  • Adam Wickens, Digital Assets and US Placement Specialist, Senior Vice President at Marsh. Adam has spent over 20 years in the insurance industry across many lines, but is now focused on financial lines and cyber, with interest in developing markets and products. He is a specialist in the cryptocurrency and digital asset space.

Dr Galanis was pleased the success of the event. He said:

“The event was well-attended and we received very positive feedback from the alumni and students who participated.

“The first part focused on providing a basic overview of how Bitcoin and the blockchain work, as well as the main questions that academic economists are researching right now.

“The second part was devoted on the practical side of investing in crypto assets. Topics that were addressed included insurance and regulation, as well as the platforms for providing real-time data on prices, trade volumes and mining activity.

“The event concluded with a Q&A session, where there was a lively discussion on the merits and drawbacks of cryptocurrencies and crypto assets.”

Cristina Feliz, City’s Alumni Relations Manager, said: “It was fantastic seeing so many alumni last night, engaging in stimulating discussion and networking with fellow alumni, School academics and current students.

“These events are a great opportunity for alumni to come back to City, learn from our researchers and for students to network with their predecessors.”

About Dr Spyros Galanis

Dr Galanis is a Reader (Associate Professor) in the Department of Economics of City, University of London. Before 2019, he was Associate Professor the University of Southampton. His main research focuses on the role that uncertainty, information and bounded perception have on single- and multi-agent decision making. He examines under which conditions speculative trade occurs and studies when information is valuable and whether markets (including the newly formulated ‘prediction’ markets) aggregate and reveal information through their price mechanism. His is also researching public finance, in particular an empirical estimation of the Laffer curve using a theoretical model of tax evasion with strategic complementarities.

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