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Research Roundup for Early Summer 2020

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Welcome back to TPI’s Research Roundup, our semi-regular compilation of recent outside research of interest to tech policy nerds. They’re not quite beach reads, but it’s not quite beach time anyways. If you’ve read a paper you think might be interesting to include in the next roundup, feel free to send it to nlovin@techpolicyinstitute.org

DISCLAIMER: The papers and authors are not affiliated with TPI. We do not necessarily agree with everything, or even anything, in these papers, but find them interesting and informative.

The Electric Telegraph, News Coverage, and Political Participation by Tianyi Wang

What it is: An economic history study of the telegraph and voter turnout in 1800s America.

What they find: Local newspapers that had a telegraph increased the amount of news from DC relative to those without a telegraph. Turnout for presidential elections increased in areas served by a paper with a telegraph, but turnout for House elections did not, presumably because local news already covered those elections. 

Why it matters: The effects of information technology on elections is not new

Risks and Benefits of Initial Coin Offerings: Evidence from Impak Finance, A Regulated ICO by Emillo Boulianne and Melissa Fortin

What it is: A case study of ICO regulations in Canada

What they find: The difference in speed between tech and regulatory agencies is an issue for both the company and the regulators. The regulatory efforts increase initial investor willingness in participating in the ICO. However, the regulations requiring fincancial statements led to a decrease in investor confidence, from both problems with finding an auditor who can handle blockchain, and actual financial difficulties of the company.

Why it matters: Understanding how blockchain companies, regulators, and investors interact and how to better serve all three will lead to better blockchain policy.

Steering Incentives Of Platforms: Evidence From The Telecommunications Industry by Brian McManus, Aviv Nevo, Zachary Nolan, and Jonathan W. Williams

What it is: A study of tradeoffs ISPs face between steering customers to their own TV services, which can increase video revenues but may reduce demand for online video and more lucrative higher-tier services, and vice-versa. 

What they find: Trying to retain linear cable TV subscribers is unprofitable to ISPs as it reduces demand for high-end broadband tiers. Usage-based pricing is likely to increase this effect as well as create additional incentives for ISPs to encourage internet “open access.”

Why it matters: The interplay of video content delivery options can affect antitrust, vertical integration, and net neutrality.