Vernon L. Smith

Adjunct Scholar

A 2002 Nobel Prize winner in economics, Cato Adjunct Scholar Vernon L. Smith is Professor of Economics and Law at George Mason University, a research scholar in the Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science, and a Fellow of the Mercatus Center all in Arlington, VA. He received his bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Cal Tech, and his Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard. He has authored or co‐​authored over 200 articles and books on capital theory, finance, natural resource economics and experimental economics.

He serves or has served on the board of editors of the American Economic Review, The Cato Journal, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, the Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Science, Economic Theory, Economic Design, Games and Economic Behavior, and the Journal of Economic Methodology.

He is past president of the Public Choice Society, the Economic Science Association, the Western Economic Association and the Association for Private Enterprise Education. Previous faculty appointments include the University of Arizona, Purdue, Brown University and the University of Massachusetts. He has been a Ford Foundation Fellow, Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and a Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar at the California Institute of Technology.

The Cambridge University Press published his Papers in Experimental Economics in 1991, and they published a second collection of more recent papers, Bargaining and Market Behavior, in 2000. He received an honorary Doctor of Management degree from Purdue University, and is a Fellow of the Econometric Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

He is a distinguished fellow of the American Economic Association, an Andersen Consulting Professor of the Year, the 1995 Adam Smith award recipient conferred by the Association for Private Enterprise Education. He was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1995, and received CalTech’s distinguished alumni award in 1996. He has served as a consultant on the privatization of electric power in Australia and New Zealand and participated in numerous private and public discussions of energy deregulation in the United States. In 1997 he served as a Blue Ribbon Panel Member, National Electric Reliability Council.

Speaking Topics

Read Cato’s press release announcing Smith’s award of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics.

Published Works by Vernon L. Smith


How and Why to Privatize Federal Lands,” by Terry L. Anderson, Vernon L. Smith and Emily Simmons, Cato Policy Analysis No. 363, December 9, 1999.

Opinion and Commentary

Cato Adjunct Scholar (and Nobel Prize Winner) Gives Thanks,” A Cato Daily Commentary, December 25, 2002.

Using Experiments to Inform the Privatization/​Deregulation Movement in Electricity,” by Stephen J.Rassenti,Vernon L.Smith, and Bart J.Wilson, Cato Journal 21:3, Winter 2002, pp. 11.

LEMs and Rents,Regulation Magazine 25:1, Summer 2002, pp. 1.

California Crisis: Turning Off the Lights,” by Stephen J.Rassenti,Vernon L.Smith,and Bart J.Wilson, Regulation Magazine 24:3, Fall 2001, pp. 20.

Regulatory Reform in the Electric Power Industry,” by Vernon L. Smith, Regulation Magazine 19:1, Winter 1996.

Reflections on Human Action After 50 Years,Cato Journal 19:2, Spring 1996, pp. 20.

On Divestiture and the Creation of Property Rights in Pulic Lands,Cato Journal 2:3, Winter 1992, pp. 29.