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Discovering Prices: Auction Design in Markets with Complex Constraints
  • Author Image
    Paul Milgrom
  • Publisher Logo
    Columbia University Press

Discovering Prices: Auction Design in Markets with Complex Constraints

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  • Paul Milgrom
  • Columbia University Press
  • Hardcover
  • 9780231175982
  • 8.6 X 5.5 X 0.9 inches
  • 0.92 pounds
  • Business & Economics > Economics - Theory
  • English
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Book Description

Traditional economic theory studies idealized markets in which prices alone can guide efficient allocation, with no need for central organization. Such models build from Adam Smith's famous concept of an invisible hand, which guides markets and renders regulation or interference largely unnecessary. Yet for many markets, prices alone are not enough to guide feasible and efficient outcomes, and regulation alone is not enough, either. Consider air traffic control at major airports. While prices could encourage airlines to take off and land at less congested times, prices alone do just part of the job; an air traffic control system is still indispensable to avoid disastrous consequences. With just an air traffic controller, however, limited resources can be wasted or poorly used. What's needed in this and many other real-world cases is an auction system that can effectively reveal prices while still maintaining enough direct control to ensure that complex constraints are satisfied.

In Discovering Prices, Paul Milgrom--the world's most frequently cited academic expert on auction design--describes how auctions can be used to discover prices and guide efficient resource allocations, even when resources are diverse, constraints are critical, and market-clearing prices may not even exist. Economists have long understood that externalities and market power both necessitate market organization. In this book, Milgrom introduces complex constraints as another reason for market design. Both lively and technical, Milgrom roots his new theories in real-world examples (including the ambitious U.S. incentive auction of radio frequencies, whose design he led) and provides economists with crucial new tools for dealing with the world's growing complex resource-allocation problems.

Discovering Prices: Auction Design in Markets with Complex Constraints

Author Bio

Paul Milgrom is the Shirley and Leonard Ely professor of Humanities and Sciences in the Department of Economics at Stanford University and professor, by courtesy, at both the Department of Management Science and Engineering and the Graduate School of Business. He is also chairman and co-founder of Auctionomics, which designs and assists bidders in high-stakes auctions.

In 2020, Milgrom was co-recipient, with Robert Wilson, of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Honor of Alfred Nobel "for improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats." According to the prize committee: "The new auction formats are a beautiful example of how basic research can subsequently generate inventions that benefit society. The unusual feature of this example is that the same people developed the theory and the practical applications. The Laureates’ ground-breaking research about auctions has thus been of great benefit, for buyers, sellers and society as a whole."

Earlier in the same year, he was also named a Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association.  According to the Distinguished Fellow citation, Milgrom "is the world’s leading auction designer, having helped design many of the auctions for radio spectrum conducted around the world in the last thirty years, including those conducted by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (ranging from the original simultaneous multiple round auction with activity rules, to the recent incentive auction for repurposing broadcast spectrum for modern uses). 

His applied work in auction design and consulting has established new ways for economists to interact with the wider world. He is also a theorist of extraordinary breadth, who has provided (and still continues to provide) foundational insights not only into the theory of auctions (including his 1982 paper with Weber), but across the range of modern microeconomic theory."

Continuing, the citation notes that "His work has been widely recognized. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has received major prizes, including the 2008 Nemmers Prize, the 2012 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award, the 2014 Golden Goose Award (with McAfee and Wilson), the 2018 CME Group-MSRI Prize in Innovative Quantitative Applications, and the 2018 John J. Carty Award for the Advancement of Science (with Kreps and Wilson). He is the dissertation advisor of many successful economists."

 

Source: Stanford University 

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