Nolan McCarty brings a political economist’s eye to the development of blockchain technology.

McCarty, a member of the DeCenter steering committee and vice dean for strategic initiatives at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, specializes in the intersection of economics and political science. His research has examined the political underpinning of the 2008 financial collapse, the politics of regulating financial and social media firms, and the causes and effects of polarization in American politics.

Along the way, McCarty has seen how technologies transform markets, and how government and social institutions grapple with those transformations. Successfully integrating blockchain into society will likely require adjustments in regulation, economic policy, and even social structures, he said.

Much of blockchain’s early use has involved cryptocurrencies, which present concerns for regulators and consumers. “I come at it with some skepticism about current applications, but some openness towards the potential to use the technology to solve other types of problems,” said McCarty, the Susan Dod Brown Professor of Politics and Public Affairs.

Although blockchain technology is not fully developed, McCarty said, it is important to make general assessments about its capabilities and consequences. He said the DeCenter leaders want to explore blockchain’s social impacts as well as its technological ones.

“They want to engage with people who are looking at the policy consequences as well as the political and economic consequences,” McCarty said.

Related Center

  • Center for Decentralization of Power Through Blockchain Technology (DeCenter)