There is a new paper (pdf) by Huberman, Leshno, and Moallemi on that topic, I found it very useful. Here is the abstract, non-newbies can skip ahead to the second paragraph:
Many crypto-currencies, Bitcoin being the most prominent, are reliable electronic payment systems that operate without a central, trusted authority. They are >enabled by blockchain technology, which deploys cryptographic tools and game theoretic incentives to create a two-sided platform. Profit maximizing computer servers called miners provide the infrastructure of the system. Its users can send payments anonymously and securely. Absent a central authority to control the system, the paper seeks to understand the operation of the system: How does the system raise revenue to pay for its infrastructure? How are usage fees determined? How much infrastructure is deployed?
A simplified economic model that captures the system’s properties answers these questions. Transaction fees and infrastructure level are determined in an equilibrium of a congestion queueing game derived from the system’s limited throughput. The system eliminates dead-weight loss from monopoly, but introduces other inefficiencies and requires congestion to raise revenue and fund infrastructure. We explore the future potential of such systems and provide design suggestions.
Recommended to many of those who are otherwise merely baffled.