WIREDより:今年のAEA年次総会でもっとも人気を集めたセッションは、金融危機ではなくオンライン・オークションだった。議長はSusan Atheyで、メインスピーカーはHal Varian。
During the question-and-answer period, a man wearing a camel-colored corduroy blazer raises his hand. "Let me understand this," he begins, half skeptical, half unsure. "You say that an auction happens every time a search takes place? That would mean millions of times a day!" Varian smiles. "Millions," he says, "is actually quite an understatement."

Google even uses auctions for internal operations, like allocating servers among its various business units. Since moving a product's storage and computation to a new data center is disruptive, engineers often put it off. "I suggested we run an auction similar to what the airlines do when they oversell a flight. They keep offering bigger vouchers until enough customers give up their seats," Varian says.

Since Google hired Varian, other companies, like Yahoo, have decided that they, too, must have a chief economist heading a division that scrutinizes auctions, dashboards, and econometric models to fine-tune their business plan. In 2007, Harvard economist Susan Athey was surprised to get a summons to Redmond to meet with Steve Ballmer. "That's a call you take," she says. Athey spent last year working in Microsoft's Cambridge, Massachusetts, office.