21 June 1914|
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
|Died||11 October 1996
Harrison, New York, USA
School or tradition
|Post Keynesian economics|
|Alma mater||Columbia University
|Influences||Robert Murray Haig
John Maynard Keynes
Harvey J. Levin
Revenue equivalence theorem
|Awards||Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics (1996)|
|Information at IDEAS / RePEc|
William Spencer Vickrey (21 June 1914 – 11 October 1996) was a Canadian-born professor of economics and Nobel Laureate. Vickrey was awarded the 1996 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with James Mirrlees for their research into the economic theory of incentives under asymmetric information, becoming the only Nobel laureate born in British Columbia. The announcement of the prize was made just three days prior to his death; his Columbia University economics department colleague C. Lowell Harriss accepted the posthumous prize on his behalf (there is only one other case where a Nobel Prize has been presented posthumously).
Vickrey was born in Victoria, British Columbia and attended high school at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. After obtaining his B.S. in Mathematics at Yale University in 1935, he went on to complete his Masters in 1937 and doctoral studies in 1948 at Columbia University, where he would remain for most of his career.
Vickrey was the first to use the tools of game theory to explain the dynamics of auctions. In his seminal paper, Vickrey derives several auction equilibria, and provides an early revenue-equivalence result. The revenue equivalence theorem remains the centrepiece of modern auction theory. The Vickrey auction is named after him.
Vickrey worked on congestion pricing, the notion that roads and other services should be priced so that users see the costs that arise from the service being fully used when there is still demand. Congestion pricing gives a signal to users to adjust their behaviour or to investors to expand the service in order to remove the constraint. The theory was later partially put into action in London.
Vickrey's economic philosophy was influenced by John Maynard Keynes and Henry George. He was sharply critical of the Chicago school of economics and was vocal in opposing the political focus on achieving balanced budgets and fighting inflation, especially in times of high unemployment.
- "Counterspeculation, Auctions, and Competitive Sealed Tenders", Journal of Finance, 1961. The paper originated auction theory, a subfield of game theory.
- "Fifteen Fatal Fallacies of Financial Fundamentalism: A Disquisition on Demand Side Economics". October 5, 1996.
- Arrow, Kenneth Joseph; Arnott, Richard J.; Atkinson, Anthony A.; Drèze, Jacques (editors) (1997). Public Economics: Selected Papers by William Vickrey. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-59763-3.
- Warner, Aaron W.; Forstater, Mathew; Rosen, Sumner M. (editors) (2000). Commitment to Full Employment: The Economics and Social Policy of William S. Vickrey. Armonk, N.Y: M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 0-7656-0633-X.
- Pavlina R. Tcherneva; Forstater, Mathew (2004). Full Employment and Price Stability: The Macroeconomic Vision of William S. Vickrey. Edward Elgar Publishing. ISBN 1-84376-409-1.
- Vickrey, 1961
- William Vickrey - Biographical
- Nobel Laureate Biography of William Vickrey
- William S. Vickrey (1914–1996). The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. Library of Economics and Liberty (2nd ed.) (Liberty Fund). 2008.