American economists Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson have been awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in economics for their contributions to auction theory, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said on Monday.



Paul Milgrom wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Left: Paul R. Milgrom, Right: Robert B. Wilson:


© Stanford Graduate School of Business
Left: Paul R. Milgrom, Right: Robert B. Wilson:

Milgrom and Wilson, who are both professors at Stanford University in California, were recognized for theoretical discoveries that improved how auctions work. According to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, they also designed auction formats for goods and services that are difficult to sell in a traditional way, such as radio frequencies.

“This year’s Laureates in Economic Sciences started out with fundamental theory and later used their results in practical applications, which have spread globally. Their discoveries are of great benefit to society,” Peter Fredriksson, chair of the prize committee, said in a statement.

According to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the economists invented new formats for auctioning many interrelated objects on behalf of a seller motivated by doing good for society rather than simply achieving the highest price possible.

In 1994, US authorities first used one of their formats to sell bands of radio spectrum. Doing so helped ensure that taxpayers were benefiting from the sale of radio frequencies that were owned by the government but of enormous value to mobile network operators.

The prize for economics is officially known as the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences. It was established by Sweden’s central bank and has been awarded since 1969 in memory of industrialist Alfred Nobel.

Milgrom and Wilson will share 10 million Swedish kroner ($1.1 million) in prize money.

In 2019, the economics prize was awarded to Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer for their work to alleviate global poverty. Duflo, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,

Oct 12 (Reuters)U.S. economists Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson won the 2020 Nobel Economics Prize for improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said on Monday.

“The new auction formats are a beautiful example of how basic research can subsequently generate inventions that benefit society,” the academy said in a statement.

“Auctions are everywhere and affect our everyday lives. This year’s Economic Sciences Laureates, Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson, have improved auction theory and invented new auction formats, benefiting sellers, buyers and taxpayers around the world,” the Nobel Prize’s official website tweeted.

New auction formats have been used for radio spectra, fishing quotas, aircraft landing slots and emissions allowances.

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.

The traditional gala winners’ dinner in December has been cancelled and other parts of the celebrations are being held digitally to avoid the risk of spreading the infection.

The 10-million-Swedish-crown ($1.14 million) economics prize is not one of the original five awards created in the 1895 will of industrialist and dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel, but was established by Sweden’s central bank and first awarded in 1969.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee plans to go ahead with an award ceremony, albeit in a reduced format due to the coronavirus pandemic, in Oslo on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death of Alfred Nobel.

(Reporting by Simon Johnson Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Today, the Nobel Committee bestowed this year’s Nobel Peace Prize on the World Food Programme, citing its herculean efforts to combat hunger, especially in war-torn areas. In doing so, the Committee stated that it “wishes to turn the eyes of the world towards the millions of people who suffer from or face the threat of hunger.”

As COVID-19 threatens to push 132 million more people into extreme hunger (and has already pushed 100 million people into its corollary, extreme poverty), it’s more critical than ever to invest in sustainable market solutions that strengthen rural livelihoods. So let’s turn our eyes toward smallholder farmers, then come back to the role of small business and entrepreneurship. First, some numbers:

  • Two billion people—26% of the global population—experienced hunger or food insecurity in 2019, with 690 million of them facing chronic hunger. Worse yet, this number has been rising over the last five years.
  • 75% of the world’s hungry are smallholder farmers and their families, despite the fact that they produce a significant amount of the world’s food.

Smallholder farmers—particularly in sub-Saharan Africa—are the face of hunger. But let’s be clear: The problem is not that there isn’t enough food to nourish everyone; the problem is that too many can’t afford to put food on the table. Global action to reverse this trend and get back on track for the UN’s 2030 “zero hunger” target must therefore have rural livelihoods at its center.

To build sustainable livelihoods, smallholder farmers need at least three things: access to reliable incomes, resources to invest in the growth and health of their farms, and support to tackle livelihood shocks like COVID-19 or climate change. But the typical smallholder farmer lives hundreds of miles from accessible markets, leaving them with few choices but to sell their crops