… Read More
by Erik Sherman
Going once, going twice—the winners of this year’s Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences are two Stanford economists whose work lets the world make mobile phone calls, switch on a light, and buy and sell on eBay.
Robert Wilson and Paul Milgrom, are famous for their groundbreaking work on auction theory. They took the 2,500-year-old practice of selling goods to the highest bidder and transformed how they worked and how the world looked at a result.
One of the major areas they developed was analysis of how the rules that govern auctions affect the efficiency of the outcomes—how bidders get the value they want, sellers maximize their income, and the process can happen more easily and quickly. Then they found ways to move beyond the fast-talking and gavel-banging stereotype of an auction and into many new types that new rules could enable.
“Sometimes the invisible hand of the
… Read More
(Bloomberg Businessweek) — You know that feeling of elation when you win an auction—say, a bidding war for a house—and how it’s immediately followed by that sinking feeling that you overpaid? That’s the winner’s curse. It’s a real thing. Once you stop to think, you realize there’s probably a good reason other people weren’t willing to pay as much as you did. By winning, you just lost.
Understanding the winner’s curse, and how to avoid it, is part of the reason Stanford University economists Robert Wilson and Paul Milgrom won this year’s Nobel Prize in economics—formally called the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel (PDF).
Wilson’s and Milgrom’s work is unusual in that it’s both theoretical and highly practical. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission raised more than $120 billion for taxpayers from 1994 through 2014 by selling off wireless frequencies using an auction