The NBER Reporter 2008 Number 3: NBER News

New Directors for Public Economics Program

NBER Research Associates Raj Chetty and Amy N. Finkelstein now co-direct the NBER's Program on Public Economics, replacing James M. Poterba who became NBER's President on July 1. Chetty is a tenured Associate Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. Finkelstein is a Professor of Economics at MIT.

Twenty-ninth NBER Summer Institute Held in 2008

In the summer of 2008, the NBER held its twenty-ninth annual Summer Institute. Nearly 1800 economists from universities and organizations throughout the world attended. The papers presented at dozens of different sessions during the four-week Summer Institute covered a wide variety of topics. A complete agenda and many of the papers presented at the various sessions are available on the NBER's web site by clicking Summer Institute 2008 on our conference page here.

Market Design Working Group

The NBER's newest Working Group, focusing on Market Design, was established this fall. NBER Research Associate Susan Athey of Harvard University and NBER Faculty Research Fellow Parag Pathak of MIT will co-direct the group.

Over the past two decades, economic research and ideas have played an increased role in the practical organization and design of markets. Some examples include auctions for spectrum, electricity, Treasury bills, timber, and other commodities; tradable permit systems for pollution abatement and other environmental regulations; internet search advertising; market mechanisms for innovation; labor market clearinghouses; centralized systems for the allocation of organs; formal procedures for student assignment; and other related matching and trading processes. In each of these cases, both theory and empirical and experimental research have influenced the design of market institutions.

"Market design" examines the reasons why markets institutions fail and considers the properties of alternative mechanisms, in terms of efficiency, fairness, incentives, and complexity. Research on market design is influenced by ideas from industrial organization and microeconomic theory; it brings together theoretical, empirical, and experimental methods, with an aim of studying policy-relevant tradeoffs with practical consequences. The NBER's Market Design Working Group, seeks to create a forum for bringing together leading researchers in the field of Market Design. To encourage research on Market Design, the Working Group will host a series of workshops where new work will be presented.

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