U.S. Economists Awarded Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences

Economist Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson

Economist Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson

Robert B. Wilson, a professor at Stanford University, during an interview about winning the Nobel Prize in economics at his home in Palo Alto, California, October 12, 2020.

"Paul, it's Bob Wilson", Wilson says.

Speaking to reporters in Stockholm via a telephone link, Mr Wilson said the announcement had been "very happy news", conceding that despite his research focus he himself had "never participated in an auction".

"He analysed the bidding strategies in a number of well-known auction formats, demonstrating that a format will give the seller higher expected revenue when bidders learn more about each other's estimated values during bidding".

The professors "used their insights to design new auction formats for goods and services that are hard to sell in a traditional way, such as radio frequencies", the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement.

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Last year, a trio of economists shared the prize, which they received in recognition of their pioneering work developing new methods to fight global poverty.

In 1994, United States authorities used one of their auction designs to sell radio frequencies to telecom operators, a move since copied in other countries.

The committee said Wilson's work showed "why rational bidders tend to place bids below their own best estimate of the common value", that is, "the value which is uncertain beforehand but, in the end, is the same for everyone".

Before today, a total of 84 laureates had received the prize, known formally as The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. "My wife is pointing out that we bought ski boots on eBay, I guess that was an auction", Mr Wilson said.

The prestigious award comes with a 10-million krona ($1.1 million) cash prize and a gold medal.

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'There's not much I can use it for, in terms, you know, travel or something.

"Auctions are everywhere and affect our everyday lives".

Tuesday's prize for physics honored breakthroughs in understanding the mysteries of cosmic black holes, and the chemistry prize on Wednesday went to scientists behind a powerful gene-editing tool.

The economics prize, won by such luminaries as Paul Krugman and Milton Friedman in the past, was the final of the six awards in 2020, a year in which the Nobels have been overshadowed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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