The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd


  • F. H. Hahn
Reference work entry


The auctioneer is a fictitious agent, introduced by Leon Walras, who matches supply and demand in a market with perfect competition. The process is called ‘tâtonnement’, finding the market clearing price for all commodities, resulting in general equilibrium. No actual trading occurs during this process. The concept of the auctioneer sidesteps the important question of the coordinating power of the price mechanism. There are in fact only a few special cases for which the auctioneer process leads the economy to an equilibrium.


Auctioneer Auctions Competitive equilibrium Keynesianism Monopolistic competition Perfect competition Tâtonnement Walras, L. Walras’s Law 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. H. Hahn
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