Professor Profile: Fernando Branco

Most of us come to University listen to our professors teach an interesting or a somewhat less interesting topic. However, most of us do not exactly know what our professors are doing. The goal of this Professor Profile is to show a different side of our professors. By asking four questions, we hope to provide a short overview of the person and his research. Our Fourth Professor Profile is with Professor Fernando Branco. Fernando Branco is an economics Católica-Lisbon Alumni and holds a PhD from MIT in Economics. Currently, he is a Full Professor at Católica-Lisbon and Coordinator of the PhD Initiative. We want to start this interview thanking our Professor Fernando Branco for his spontaneous availability for this interview.

Could you shortly introduce yourself?

I am an “old” professor at CLSBE. I was born in a catholic family. I am the third of four sons. I got married more than 30 years ago. I have one son. I am connected with our Catholic University of Portugal since 1980: I was an undergraduate student, a teaching assistant, and a professor. Besides these, I have served Católica as Associate Dean and Dean of the School, as well as Vice Rector of the University. What does economics mean to you?

Economics is about choices and decisions. With more restrictions or less restrictions, with more information or less information, choices and decisions are what all of us need to do in any single day through our life on earth. Therefore, economics is really at the center of what to do to be as close as possible to the objective of our lives. Could you simply describe your research?

I have developed research on auctions, mechanism design, and markets. My PhD dissertation and the first part of my research have been in auctions. Research in auctions was very active when I started my PhD studies at MIT, which explains the fascination research on auctions created on me at the time. Mechanism design is a technique first applied in auctions to identify optimal auctions; however, in a more general way, it can be applied to identify optimal market structures when there is asymmetric information. More recently, I have studied markets when there is limited information and the agents gain from searching. What is for you the the most interesting finding?

From my papers on auctions I mention findings of two papers: one on multidimensional auctions and one on optimal common value auctions. Most of the work on auctions consider single dimension auctions (only the price matters); however, in many really life cases, the context is multidimensional (price and characteristics of the product); my paper on multidimensional auctions identified the properties of optimal multidimensional auctions, providing precise expressions to rank multidimensional auctions. In the optimal common value auctions, I show that the design of the optimal auctions depends on whether bidders information is independent or correlated. My work on mechanism design extends beyond auctions, and I have applied it to procurement and technology development. My results in this second group of papers help to reinforce the idea that mechanism design may be a very useful tool for extending our knowledge in many asymmetric information frameworks. My most recent work on markets is always aimed at identifying optimal market organization when the agents involved have limited and asymmetric information, hence need to search.

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