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The 2007 Nobel Prize Economic Sciences. Hal W. Snarr November, 2007. The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2007. Johnny, tell them what they've won!. "for having laid the foundations of mechanism design theory ". The Prize amount:

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The 2007 nobel prize economic sciences

The 2007 Nobel Prize Economic Sciences

Hal W. Snarr

November, 2007

The sveriges riksbank prize in economic sciences in memory of alfred nobel 2007

The Sveriges Riksbank Prize inEconomic Sciencesin Memory of Alfred Nobel 2007

Johnny tell them what they ve won
Johnny, tell them what they've won!

"for having laid the foundations of mechanism design theory"

The Prize amount:

SEK 10 million ($1.58 million)

The scientific articles
The scientific articles:

  • Hurwicz. L. (1960): "Optimality and informational efficiency in resource allocation processes", in Arrow, Karlin and Suppes (eds.), Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences, Stanford University Press

  • Hurwicz L. (1972): "On informationally decentralized systems", in Radner and McGuire, Decision and Organization, North-Holland

  • Maskin E. (1977): "Nash equilibrium and welfare optimality". Paper presented at the summer workshop of the Econometric Society in Paris, June 1977.

  • Myerson R. (1981): "Optimal auction design", Mathematics of Operations Research 6, 58–73.

Published 1999 in the Review of Economic Studies 66, 23–38.

What is mechanism design theory
What ismechanism design theory?

  • Our lives are governed by mechanisms which make collective decisions while attempting to take account of individual preferences

  • Such mechanisms are designed to deliver the greatest social good despite individuals pursuing their self-interets, rather than general well-being

  • MDT is the art of producing institutions that align individual incentives with overall social goals

  • In 1960 Leonid Hurwicz formulated a general mathematical framework for analyzing institutions implementing collective decision making

What is mechanism design theory1
What ismechanism design theory?

  • Hurwicz (1972) introduced Incentive-Compatability

  • Myerson (1979, 1982, 1986) developed the Revelation Principlein its greatest generality

  • Maskin (1977)’s “solution” to sub-optimal mechanisms resulted in Implementation Theory

  • Applications: auctions, provision of public goods, optimal regulation, optimal taxes, voting schemes

    FCC Spectrum Auctions

    Interviewing newly minted economics PhDs

wireless communication services

Fcc spectrum auction design
FCC Spectrum AuctionDesign

  • Essential features of these auctions (1994 - 1996) were

    • multiple rounds, rather than a single sealed bid

    • Simultaneous, rather than sequential

    • Reduces the winner's curse

  • Assessing the Auction Design

    • Extensive Information was revealed by the bidding

    • Similar items sold for similar prices

Fcc spectrum auction design1
FCC Spectrum AuctionDesign

  • Assessing the auction Design

    • Bidders successfully formed efficient aggregations of licenses

      • When bidders won multiple bands, the bands were adjacent

      • When bidders won multiple regions, the regions were adjacent and on the same band

    • Tacit collusion was limited

    • Durations were reasonable

      • The nationwide auction (10) only took one week

      • The regional auction (30) only took two weeks

      • The broadband auction (99) only took 3 months

The 2007 nobel prize economic sciences

FCC Spectrum AuctionDesign

  • Assessing the auction Design

    • Auction sales far exceed the FCC’s expectations, raising

      • $617 million for 10 nationwide licenses

      • $395 million for 30 regional narrowband licenses

      • $7,700 million for 99 broadband licenses

    • The success of these auctions does not imply that alternative designs would be less successful or that success is assured in future auctions

    • The assignment of licenses using this auction design is a huge improvement over alternative designs (lottery or comparative hearings)

    • Market competition is putting the licenses in the hands of those companies best able to use them

    • Firms, consumers, and taxpayers all benefit


Peter C. Cramton, Peter C.(1997): “The FCC Spectrum Auctions: An Early Assessment” Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, 6(3): 431-495

Prize Committee of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (2007): Scientific background on the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2007: Mechanism Design Theory, URL: