Americans Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson on Monday won the Nobel Prize in economics for “improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats.”
"The new auction formats are a beautiful example of how basic research can subsequently generate inventions that benefit society," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 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.
It comes as much of the world is experiencing the worst recession since World War II due to the impact of the coronavirus 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.
Economics prize amid a global recession
Technically known as the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, the award was established in 1969 and is now widely considered one of the Nobel prizes.
Last year’s award went to two researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a third from Harvard University, for their groundbreaking research into efforts to reduce global poverty.
Few economists could have predicted last fall that the globe would come to a virtual standstill within months, as governments closed their borders, imposed lockdowns and ordered other measures to stop the spread of Covid-19, triggering a sharp dip in business activity worldwide.
The prestigious award comes with a 10-million krona ($1.1 million) cash prize and a gold medal.
On Monday, the Nobel Committee awarded the prize for physiology and medicine for discovering the liver-ravaging hepatitis C virus. 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 literature prize was awarded to American poet Louise Glück on Thursday for her “candid and uncompromising” work. The World Food Program won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for its effort to combat hunger worldwide.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)