Peter Cramton


Peter Cramton is Professor of Economics at the University of Maryland and European University Institute, and on the International Faculty at the University of Cologne. Since 1983, he has conducted research on auction theory and practice. This research appears in the leading economics journals. The main focus is the design of auctions for many related items. Applications include spectrum, energy, and financial auctions. On the practical side, he is an independent director on the board of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, chief economist of Rivada, and chairman of Market Design Inc., an economics consultancy founded in 1995, focusing on the design of auction and matching markets. Since 1993, he has advised 12 governments and 36 bidders in spectrum auctions. He is a co-inventor of the spectrum auction design used in Canada, Australia, and many European countries to auction 4G spectrum. Since 2001, he has played a lead role in the design and implementation of electricity and gas auctions in North America, South America, and Europe. He has advised on the design of carbon auctions in Europe, Australia, and the United Sates, including conducting the world’s first greenhouse-gas auction held in the UK in 2002. He has led the development of innovative auctions in new applications, such as auctions for airport slots, wind rights, diamonds, medical equipment, and Internet top-level domains. He received his B.S. in Engineering from Cornell University in 1980 and his Ph.D. in Business from Stanford University in 1984.

Peter Cramton’s Google Scholar citations

Areas of Interest:
  • Market Design
  • Auction Theory and Practice
  • Bargaining
  • Game Theory
  • Behavioral and Experimental Economics
Personal Website:
  • Ph.D. Business, Stanford University
  • BS Engineering, Cornell University
Market design takes as given that participants interact in the market to maximize their objectives given the market rules. The question I ask is, “Are the market rules best-suited to the market’s objectives, or can they be improved?” This is a hugely important and practical question. In nearly all cases, the answer is that the market rules can be improved and often the improvements can transform entire industries for the better. Over the last two decades, I have worked in many industries throughout the world as a market designer. My plan is to continue in the same role for the next two decades. One interesting fact is how easy it is to explain the key idea of reform in a few words. For example, here are five major industries where we can radically improve the market with a simple idea stated in a few words: communications — auction spectrum; electricity — pay for performance; transportation — price congestion; finance — make time discrete; climate — price carbon. Despite the simplicity of the idea, it takes decades of research and engagement with policymakers to demonstrate the importance of the idea, the need for reform, and see successful implementation. Fortunately, these good ideas once implemented in a particular location spread like a virus, improving the global economy. We are witnessing this today in electricity and communications. My hope and expectation is that this progress will extend to other sectors in the years ahead.
Former Students
  • Pacharasut Sujarittanonta
    Chulalongkorn University
  • Nathaniel Higgins
    USDA Economic Research Service
  • Matias Herrera Dappe
    The World Bank
  • Andrew Stocking
    Department of Energy
  • Dipan Ghosh
    CRA International
  • Martin Ranger
    Martin Ranger Photographer
  • Jeffrey Lien
    US Department of Justice
  • Allan Ingraham
    Economists Incorporated
  • Jesse Schwartz
    Kennesaw State University
  • Laurent Martin
    Bank of Canada
  • Hector Lopez
    Rivada Networks
  • Peter Cramton
4101A Tydings Hall
Department of Economics
Phone: (240) 479-9345
Office Hours:
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