Sunday, September 20, 2020

Deaccessioning art in the time of corona virus--

 Art museums have long frowned on selling art from their collections, and have been frowned upon when they do so. (It used to be not ok to sell art, except to buy different art, but not e.g. to fix the roof over the art...).  That's changing, "temporarily," in response to the financial crisis museums are facing during the coronavirus pandemic.  (It will be interesting to see if the old repugnance prohibitions can be restored later...)

Here's an April story from the Washington Post:

This is how bad things are for museums: They now have a green light to sell off their art

By Sebastian Smee

"To counter the constant temptation to regard art works as a way to get quick cash, the museum world heavily polices the sale of works from permanent collections — otherwise known as deaccessioning. The powerful Association of Art Museum Directors, made up of directors of museums in the United States, Mexico and Canada, has long frowned on any museum that sells off art for purposes other than acquiring new art.

"AAMD’s frowns have an effect. Museums that dare to ignore its guidelines — as the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Mass., did in 2018, ultimately selling more than 20 works from its collection to raise money for a renovation — are censured, sanctioned and publicly shamed. For a renegade — or perhaps simply desperate — museum director, a decision to sell works from the collection, even if it’s to raise money deemed necessary for survival, might mean career death.

"However, in an unprecedented move, and as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, the AAMD has recently relaxed its guidelines. It’s too soon to gauge the effect, but it is already big news in the art world. Once unthinkable, the notion of selling off a Claude Monet or two to plug a budgetary hole — or to fend off a total financial meltdown — is suddenly something to contemplate.

"According to AAMD, museums may now “use the proceeds from deaccessioned works of art … to support the direct care” of their collection.


"AAMD says it recognizes “the extensive negative effects of the current crisis on the operations and balance sheets of many art museums.” It acknowledges, too, the impossibility of knowing when revenue streams might return to normal.

"The new guidelines are temporary, and are “not intended to incentivize … the sale of art.” But their effect may do just that."


And, sure enough...:Here's the NY Times

Brooklyn Museum to Sell 12 Works as Pandemic Changes the Rules

Museums selling their art has long been frowned upon, but recent financial pressures have sent works to the auction block at Christie’s. The proceeds would pay for the care of the collection.

By Robin Pogrebin, Sept. 16, 2020

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Virtual conference on Zero/Minimal Intelligence Agents, October 22 – 24, 2020

 A remarkable 1993 JPE paper by Gode and Sunder showed that random bids and offers constrained only not to be money losing could converge in a sense to competitive equilibrium in double auction markets:

Allocative efficiency of markets with zero-intelligence traders: Market as a partial substitute for individual rationality

DK GodeS Sunder - Journal of political economy, 1993 -
We report market experiments in which human traders are replaced by" zero-intelligence" programs that submit random bids and offers. Imposing a budget constraint (ie, not permitting traders to sell below their costs or buy above their values) is sufficient to raise the allocative efficiency of these auctions close to 100 percent. Allocative efficiency of a double auction derives largely from its structure, independent of traders' motivation, intelligence, or
learning. Adam Smith's invisible hand may be more powerful than some may have thought; it can generate aggregate rationality not only from individual rationality but also from individual irrationality.

In October, there's a conference following up on the idea that some market institutions may have desirable properties that don't depend on the rationality of the agents.

The First Conference on Zero/Minimal Intelligence Agents October 22 – 24, 2020

"Zero-intelligence (ZI) and Minimal-intelligence (MI) agents have provided valuable insights into how rules of engagement and institutional structures affect outcomes. This virtual conference is for sharing insights, findings, theories, applications, and tools regarding ZI and MI agents..."  


(Revised September 3, 2020)


Session 1: Zeroing in on zero-intelligence: Externalism, automaticity and opaqueness

(October 22, 2020, 9:00-10:30 EDT New York, USA)

Moderator: Dave Cliff

a. Enrico Petracca: Zero-intelligence in ‘externalist’ new institutional economics

b. Shaun Gallagher: Zero-intelligence and human automaticity at two extremes

c. Antonio Mastrogiorgio: Opaqueness as a mark of minimal-intelligence

Session 2: Trading with Zero/Minimal Intelligence

(October 22, 2020, 11:00-12:30 EDT New York, USA)

Moderator: Daniel Ladley

a. Dave Cliff: Extending Zero and Minimal Intelligence Trader Agents to Exhibit Size-Impact


b. Barbara Ikica, Simon Jantschgi, Heinrich H. Nax, Diego G. Nuñez Duran, Bary S. R. Pradelski:

Trading in a Black Box: Zero Intelligence and Lack of Knowledge

c. Fan Gao and Daniel Ladley: Endogenous network in OTC markets

Session 3: Panel Discussion on Structural Rationality

(October 22, 2020, 13:00-15:00 EDT New York, USA):

Moderator: Shyam Sunder

Robert Axtell, Gerd Gigerenzer, Doyne Farmer, Charles R. Plott,

Larry Samuelson


Session 4: Agent-based Computational Economics and ZI/MI

Agents (October 23, 2020, 9:00-10:30 EDT New York, USA)

Moderator: Friederike Wall

a. Shu-Heng Chen: Less is More: Minimal Intelligence in the History of Cognitive Science

b. Stephan Leitner and Friederike Wall: Micro- and Macro-Dynamics in Hidden-Action

Relationships with Limited Information

c. Friederike Wall: Hill-Climbers or Satisficers? On the Intelligence of Managerial Search in

Agent-based Models

Session 5: Uncertainty and Experiments

(October 23, 2020, 11:00-12:30 EDT New York, USA)

Moderator: Heinrich H. Nax

a. Barbara Ikica, Peiran Jiao, Aidas Masiliūnas, and Heinrich Nax: From Skinner Box

experiments to Black Box games: radical behaviorism for experimental game theory

b. Michael Maier, Karim Jamal, and Shyam Sunder: Aggregation of Diverse Information with

Double Auction Trading among Minimally-Intelligent Algorithmic Agents

c. Deborah Olukan, Jonathan Ward, Nicolas Malleson and Jiaqi Ge: Agent-Based

Computational Economics: Heterogeneous Expectation Formation

Session 6: Algorithms and Markets

(October 23, 2020, 13:00-14:30 EDT New York, USA)

Moderator: Aleksandra Aloric

a. Edgardo Bucciarelli, Andrea Oliva: Notes on algorithmic research, aggregations in economic

theory, and the unilateralism of the induction principle

b. Dave Cliff, Methodological Mess-ups in Modelling Markets with Minimal-Intelligence


c. Robin Nicole, Aleksandra Alorić , and Peter Sollich: Fragmentation in trader preferences

among multiple markets: Market coexistence versus single market dominance


Session 7: Aggregation Theory and Evidence

(October 24, 2020, 9:00-10:30 EDT New York, USA)

Moderator: Dan Gode

a. Florian Artinger, Nikita Kozodoi and Julian Runge: Predicting Revenues with the Multiplier


b. Yuji Aruka, Yoshihiro Nakajima, and Naoki Mori: The Minimum Heterogeneous Agent

Configuration to Realize the Future Price Time Series Similar to Any Given Spot Price Time

Series in the AI Market Experiment

c. D. K. Gode: Does the Shape of Extramarginal Demand and Supply Matter?

Session 8: Dynamic Models and Beauty Contest

(October 24, 2020, 11:00-12:30 EDT New York, USA)

Moderator: Rosemarie Nagel

a. Kenneth Lomas and Dave Cliff: Exploring Narrative Economics: Integrating (Near-) ZeroIntelligence Trader-Agents with Opinion Dynamics Models

b. Jess Ben-Habib, John Duffy and Rosemarie Nagel, How to Protect against Zero Intelligence:

Idiosyncratic Signals in Beauty Contest Games

Session 9: Software Platforms for ZI/MI Simulations

(October 24, 2020, 13:00-14:30 EDT New York, USA)

Moderator: Shabnam Mousavi

a. Paul Brewer: Introduction and Overview of the Econ1.Net Robot Trading Laboratory:

b. Shabnam Mousavi and Shyam Sunder: Market Net Organization

Session 10: Properties of Market Institutions (Organized by Shabnam Mousavi, October 24,

2020, 15:00-16:30 EDT New York, USA)

Moderator: Elena Asprouhova

Friday, September 18, 2020

Market Design Working Group Meeting October 22-24, 2020

 The NBER market design conference in October now has a program:

Market Design Working Group Meeting October 22-24, 2020, via Zoom

Michael Ostrovsky and Parag A. Pathak, Organizers

Times are eastern daylight time

Thursday, October 22

12:00 pm

Susan Athey, Stanford University and NBER

Arthur Baker, Harvard University

Juan Camilo Castillo, University of Pennsylvania

Rachel Glennerster, DFID

Scott Duke Kominers, Harvard University

Michael Kremer, Harvard University and NBER

Jean Nahrae Lee, World Bank

Christopher Snyder, Dartmouth College and NBER

Alex Tabarrok, George Mason University

Brandon Tan, Harvard University

Accelerating a Covid-19 Vaccine

12:45 pm

Parag A. Pathak, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and NBER

Tayfun Sönmez, Boston College

M. Utku Ünver, Boston College

M. Bumin Yenmez, Boston College

Fair Allocation of Vaccines, Ventilators and Antiviral Treatments: Leaving No Ethical Value Behind in Health Care Rationing

1:30 pm

Open Discussions

2:00 pm

Xiang Han, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics

Onur Kesten, Carnegie Mellon University

M. Utku Ünver, Boston College

Blood Allocation with Replacement Donors

2:45 pm

Mohammad Akbarpour, Stanford University

Afshin Nikzad, University of Southern California

Michael A. Rees, University of Toledo Medical Center

Alvin E. Roth, Stanford University and NBER

Global Kidney Chains

3:30 pm

Open Discussions

4:00 pm


Friday, October 23

12:00 pm

Chiaki Moriguchi, Hitotsubashi University

Yusuke Narita, Yale University

Mari Tanaka, Hitotsubashi University

Meritocracy and Its Discontents: Long-Run Effects of Repeated School Admission Reforms

12:45 pm

Yan Chen, University of Michigan

Ming Jiang, Shanghai Jiao Tong University

Onur Kesten, Carnegie Mellon University

An Empirical Evaluation of Chinese College Admissions Reforms Through A Natural Experiment

1:30 pm

Open Discussions

2:00 pm

Adam Kapor, Princeton University and NBER

Mohit Karnani, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Christopher Neilson, Princeton University and NBER

Aftermarket Frictions and the Cost of Off-Platform Options in Centralized Assignment Mechanisms

2:45 pm

David Delacretaz, University of Oxford

Processing Reserves Simultaneously

3:30 pm

Open Discussions

4:00 pm


Saturday, October 24

12:00 pm

Federico Echenique, California Institute of Technology

Antonio Miralles, Universita' degli Studi di Messina

Jun Zhang, Nanjing Audit University

Constrained Pseudo-Market Equilibrium

12:45 pm

Marzena Rostek, University of Wisconsin- Madison

Ji Hee Yoon, University College London

Exchange Design and Efficiency

1:30 pm

Open Discussions

2:00 pm

Martin Bichler, Technical University of Munich

Maximilian Fichtl, Technical University of Munich

Stefan Heidekrüger, Technical University of Munich

Nils Kohring, Technical University of Munich

Paul Sutterer, Technical University of Munich

Learning to Bid: Computing Bayesian Nash Equilibrium Strategies in Auctions via Neural Pseudogradient Ascent

2:45 pm

Mohammad Akbarpour, Stanford University

Scott Duke Kominers, Harvard University

Shengwu Li, Harvard University

Paul Milgrom, Stanford University

Investment Incentives in Near-Optimal Mechanisms

3:30 pm

Open Discussions

4:00 pm


Thursday, September 17, 2020

Job matching under constraints by Kojima, Sun, and Yu in the September AER

 From the September AER, the latest in a distinguished string of papers initially motivated by aspects of the clearinghouse for new doctors in Japan:

Kojima, Fuhito, Ning Sun, and Ning Neil Yu. 2020. "Job Matching under Constraints." American Economic Review, 110 (9): 2935-47.  DOI: 10.1257/aer.20190780

Abstract: Studying job matching in a Kelso-Crawford framework, we consider arbitrary constraints imposed on sets of doctors that a hospital can hire. We characterize all constraints that preserve the substitutes condition (for all revenue functions that satisfy the substitutes condition), a critical condition on hospitals' revenue functions for well-behaved competitive equilibria. A constraint preserves the substitutes condition if and only if it is a "generalized interval constraint," which specifies the minimum and maximum numbers of hired doctors, forces some hires, and forbids others. Additionally, "generalized polyhedral constraints" are precisely those that preserve the substitutes condition for all "group separable" revenue functions.

Here's the first paragraph:

"Hiring entities often face various types of constraints. In the United States, firms that receive favorable treatments from governments often promise to hire at least a certain number of workers (Byrnes, Marvel, and Sridhar 1999): floor constraints. In Chinese cities, the household registration system distributes quotas to employers for transferring  employees’ registrations from other places (Chan and Zhang 1999): type-specific ceiling constraints on hiring nonlocals. In rural India, a health subcenter is often required to be staffed by exactly one male and one female (Kapoor 2011): type-specific constraints with exact quotas. These are restrictions on the set of employees that an employer is allowed to hire. Inspired by a classical framework for studying job markets (Kelso and Crawford 1982), this paper studies how all possible restrictions of this type impact the substitutes condition on revenue functions of the employers, a condition known to be critical for the existence and certain regularity properties of competitive equilibria (Kelso and Crawford 1982; Gul and Stacchetti 1999; Milgrom 2000; Hatfield et al. 2019; Kojima, Sun, and Yu 2020a)"

and, from the Conclusions section:

"In a classical paper on the difficulty for rural hospitals in filling all of their positions in the National Resident Matching Program, Roth (1986) concludes that “this maldistribution seems unlikely to be changed by any system that does not involve some element of compulsion, or some change in the relative numbers of available positions and eligible students.” Our analysis suggests that in job matching with adjustable salaries, a compulsion in the form of floor or ceiling constraints may be a possible solution: one of the appealing properties of such a policy is that it preserves the substitutes condition and thus the existence of competitive equilibria under standard assumptions (Kojima, Sun, and Yu 2020a)."

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

On allocating scarce vaccines

 From the NBER working papers this week:

Do Black and Indigenous Communities Receive their Fair Share of Vaccines Under the 2018 CDC Guidelines?

Parag A. Pathak, Harald Schmidt, Adam Solomon, Edwin Song, Tayfun Sönmez, M. Utku Ünver

NBER Working Paper No. 27817   September 2020

Abstract: A major focus of debate about rationing guidelines for COVID-19 vaccines is whether and how to prioritize access for minority populations that have been particularly affected by the pandemic, and been the subject of historical and structural disadvantage, particularly Black and Indigenous individuals. We simulate the 2018 CDC Vaccine Allocation guidelines using data from the American Community Survey under different assumptions on total vaccine supply. Black and Indigenous individuals combined receive a higher share of vaccines compared to their population share for all assumptions on total vaccine supply. However, their vaccine share under the 2018 CDC guidelines is considerably lower than their share of COVID-19 deaths and age-adjusted deaths. We then simulate one method to incorporate disadvantage in vaccine allocation via a reserve system. In a reserve system, units are placed into categories and units reserved for a category give preferential treatment to individuals from that category. Using the Area Deprivation Index (ADI) as a proxy for disadvantage, we show that a 40% high-ADI reserve increases the number of vaccines allocated to Black or Indigenous individuals, with a share that approaches their COVID-19 death share when there are about 75 million units. Our findings illustrate that whether an allocation is equitable depends crucially on the benchmark and highlight the importance of considering the expected distribution of outcomes from implementing vaccine allocation guidelines.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Covid has slowed transplants in the UK

The Evening Standard has the story:

Organ transplant waiting list jumps to five-year high due to pandemic, new NHS figures show

by Naomi Ackerman 

"The number people waiting for an organ transplant has soared to five-year high as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, new NHS figures have shown.

"NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) said this week that an estimated 6,700 people are currently in need of a transplant across the UK - up from 6,138 prior to the start of the pandemic.

"The health body has estimated that the increase in patients waiting - expected to be the highest since 2015-16 - comes after services were impacted by the effects of the pandemic.


"It is hoped that the waiting list can be shortened going forward following the introduction of a new law in May, making organ donation "opt-out" rather than an active choice.


"The law will see that families are still consulted before organ donation goes ahead - the reason is why health officials have implored people to make their wishes about donation known to their families.

"NHSBT has said that thousands of "transplant opportunities" have been missed in recent years. In 2018-19, it reported that 835 families declined to support organ donation - with many families saying they did not know what their relative would have wanted."


HT: Alex Chan

Monday, September 14, 2020

Economies in the Time of Coronavirus (in English and Chinese)

 Here's a short essay I wrote for the Luhohan Academy in June, published on their web site in July in English, and the Chinese translation in the Caixin online magazine.

Economies in the Time of Coronavirus

by Alvin E. Roth

Here's the first paragraph:

"Years from now we will look back on the Covid-19 pandemic as a source of much new information, not just about epidemic disease and how to manage it, but about structural features of the world’s economies that were made clearer by the crisis and how it was handled, both well and badly.  In the meantime, we can begin to speculate about what we will have learned when the pandemic is history, and what we must still learn to prepare for dealing with its continuation, and with future pandemics."


here's another paragraph:

"Testing policies will have to keep in mind what economists know well, which is that there may be perverse incentives in play. Some people will be very eager to return to work, and might be willing to do so even when they risk spreading infection. Others may be happy to work from home (especially if there is risk of infection at work) and may not wish to return to work even when they themselves do not pose a risk to others. And if those who have been infected and have recovered  (e.g. who test positive for antibodies) are treated differently than others, some people may feel a need to expose themselves to infection in order to enter this privileged class. So who conducts the tests, and how they are reported and recorded, will be important."

and here it begins in Chinese (but gated):


2020年07月17日 10:59

  文|阿尔文·罗思(Alvin E. Roth)