Like the Economic Seminars program, the Economic Lectures program is managed by OSP. It is intended to advance recent economic analyses in the fields of industrial organization, regulation, and applied microeconomics. The Commission recognizes the importance of expanding its engagement with the research community because staff members often must address difficult issues requiring substantive expertise. Invited speakers primarily are economists but they also include other professionals with expertise on communications issues of interest to FCC economists.
Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate - Dec 9, 2004
In this 92 minute lecture, Dr. Stiglitz discusses how selective government intervention by the FCC and Department of Justice can improve performance where the lack of information prevents telecom markets from working efficiently. Toward that end, he addresses several important topics. One is how the existence of even small sunk costs may serve as a barrier to entry in communications markets.
A second is how, due to network externalities, telecom networks are particularly prone to non-competitive behavior, which he says is illustrated by the break up of AT&T several decades ago. A third topic is the role of liberalized regulation of telecom markets as a contributor to the telecom bubble occurring in the 1990s.
A fourth topic is the importance of devoting some public spectrum to free broadcast time for political candidates seeking public office to reduce their reliance on political contributions. He argues that media diversity is important to the quality of public services and that communication is essential to the quality of our political system.
Dr. Stiglitz was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2001 for helping to pioneer a new branch of economics, the economics of information. He is a professor of finance and business at Columbia University. He holds a PhD in economics from MIT. This lecture is a part of the Chief Economist’s Distinguished Speaker Series at the FCC.
Barry Nalebuff, Yale Univ. - April 1, 2004
In this 87 minute lecture, Professor Nalebuff explains that, when a company that has market power in two goods, it can bundle them together to make it harder for a rival with only one of these goods to enter the market. This is because the incumbent can defend both products without having to price low in each. He explains how a firm can use bundling to preserve and amplify its market power.
The economist's traditional explanation for bundling is that it is an effective tool for price discrimination. Nalebuff's contribution to this theory is his recognition that, while price discrimination does provide a reason to bundle, the gains are small compared to those from the entry-deterrent effect.
Professor Nalebuff is Milton Steinbach Professor of Management at Yale School of Management. He holds a Mphil and PhD in economics from Oxford University.
Paul Milgrom, Stanford Univ. - Sept 9, 2003
In this 88 minute lecture, Professor Milgrom looks at several recent successful auction designs. These include the FCC simultaneous multiple-round auction which allocates spectrum, the National Resident Matching Program which matches doctors to hospital residency programs, and the EDF auction of power generation capacity. He also discusses recent academic research in market design, including empirical, theoretical, and experimental work.
Moreover, Professor Milgrom also discusses a number of important insights arising out of that academic work. These include, for example, information on why muti-round auctions may be needed to find stable allocations, how product complementarity can lead to seller market power in exchanges, and why proxy bidding can eliminate collusion and speed the market-clearing process.
Professor Milgrom holds an MS in statistics and PhD in business from Stanford University, where he now teaches in the Department of Economics. This lecture is a part of the Chief Economist’s Distinguished Speaker Series at the FCC.
Douglas North, Nobel Laureate - June 30, 2003
In this 70 minute lecture, Dr. North talks about institutions and economic development. He focuses on two issues. One is what prevents economies from working well and the other is what can we do about it. He begins with Neoclassical economics, observiing that its objective was to explain efficient resource allocation, not to deal with the issues of economic development.
Dr. North argues that trying to apply Neoclassical theory to development issues is problematical: first, it mistakenly assumes the economy is frictionless and, second, it incorrectly assumes the economy is timeless (i.e., static rather than dynamic). He then talks about how government should deal with those two problems. What is needed, he says, is to know enough about the background and cultural heritage of a society so you have some feeling for the interplay between the formal rules and the informal norms and the way they work.
That is, we must understand the country’s institutions which are the incentive systems that structure human interaction and reduce uncertainty. What is also needed, he explains, is to have a sense of the margins where changes will be effective and what the implications of those changes will be.
Dr. North received the Nobel Prize in 1993 for his research on the economic history of the U.S. and Europe, as well as for his contributions to understanding how economic and political institutions change over time. He is a professor in the Department of Economics at Washington University in St. Louis and holds a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. This lecture is the first in the Chief Economist’s Distinguished Speaker Series at the FCC.
Other Local Economic Lectures and Seminars