Using Economic Risk to Model Miner Hash Rate Allocation in Cryptocurrencies

by   George Bissias, et al.

Abrupt changes in the miner hash rate applied to a proof-of-work (PoW) blockchain can adversely affect user experience and security. Because different PoW blockchains often share hashing algorithms, miners face a complex choice in deciding how to allocate their hash power among chains. We present an economic model that leverages Modern Portfolio Theory to predict a miner's allocation over time using price data and inferred risk tolerance. The model matches actual allocations with mean absolute error within 20 five miners active on both Bitcoin (BTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) blockchains. A model of aggregate allocation across those four miners shows excellent agreement in magnitude with the actual aggregate as well a correlation coefficient of 0.649. The accuracy of the aggregate allocation model is also sufficient to explain major historical changes in inter-block time (IBT) for BCH. Because estimates of miner risk are not time-dependent and our model is otherwise price-driven, we are able to use it to anticipate the effect of a major price shock on hash allocation and IBT in the BCH blockchain. Using a Monte Carlo simulation, we show that, despite mitigation by the new difficulty adjustment algorithm, a price drop of 50 least a day, with a peak delay of 100


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