Peter Mueller headshot
Photo by Emily Jeffries

Peter Mueller, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Finance

In 2022, the centralized cryptocurrency exchange FTX filed for bankruptcy after its CEO and other top executives faced trial for misappropriating more than $8 billion in customer deposits. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) spends millions annually to regulate these transactions and ensure trust but, as in the case of FTX, sometimes it isn’t enough.

Decentralized finance, or DeFi, instead relies on blockchain technology to facilitate trustless transactions between users. Peter Mueller, Ph.D., assistant professor of finance, examines the potential applications of this emerging technology and what it could mean for the future of finance, and says the story of the FTX scandal was an early inspiration for his research.

“I’m an empiricist, which means I write papers with data that I collect, and I use that data to tell a story, to test a hypothesis, and find solutions,” he explained. “I like compiling data, testing my hypothesis, and having a eureka moment.”

Currently, Mueller has research in all stages of development. In “The Public Blockchain Ecosystem: An Empirical Analysis,” he and his coauthors describe where the blockchain ecosystem stands today and what blockchains are relevant, specifically to business. His sole-authored paper, “DeFi Leveraged Trading: Inequitable Costs of Decentralization,” was recently presented at the Midwest Finance Association Conference in Chicago and landed him an invitation to present his research at a Bank of Canada Special Session on “Digital Currencies and Payments,” during the Canadian Economics Association annual meeting this summer in Toronto. In 2022, he and a coauthor published “Natural Monopoly Privatization: Minimizing Regulatory Trade-Offs Between Rent Extraction and Innovation” in the journal Academy of Management Perspectives.

Mueller’s research interests also have connected him with industry. He’s working with members of the Ethereum Foundation on a paper that is focused on the economics of Ethereum, a decentralized blockchain that offers smart contract functionality. His research explores both the computer science powering the technology and the economics of the system.

Before joining the Gabelli School of Business in 2023, Mueller developed a fintech course at the University of Oklahoma’s (OU) Price College of Business, where he taught as a doctoral student and ultimately earned his Ph.D. He also holds a dual bachelor’s in finance and accounting from the university. The course he created serves as an overview of the different applications of fintech, covering cryptocurrency and blockchain, artificial intelligence, crowdfunding, and more. It was the first course of its kind introduced at the Price College of Business, Mueller noted.

Originally from Springfield, Illinois, Mueller was OU’s intramural table tennis champion, beating out the tennis team. He met his fiancée during his undergraduate years, and the two will celebrate their wedding in June in Colorado.

Working in higher education is as rewarding as his research, Mueller said. At the Gabelli School, he teaches Introduction to Finance and enjoys seeing his students’ progress as they tackle challenging projects.

“I made some changes to the traditional way you teach the course. I assigned a programming project, which is a very dangerous thing to assign to undergrad students [because] some of them aren’t even finance majors!” he joked. “I’m very impressed with the way my students rose to the challenge of the project and submitted quality work. It’s very satisfying as an educator to see my students succeed.”

—Gabrielle Simonson