Three Minimal Market Institutions with Human and Algorithmic Agents: Theory and Experimental Evidence

Document Type

Discussion Paper

Publication Date


CFDP Number


CFDP Revision Date


CFDP Pages



We define and examine three minimal market games (sell-all, buy-sell, and double auction) in the laboratory relative to the predictions of theory. These closed exchange economies have some cash to facilitate transactions, and include feedback. The experiment reveals that (1) the competitive general equilibrium (CGE) and non-cooperative (NCE) models are reasonable anchors to locate most but not all the observed outcomes of the three market mechanisms; (2) outcomes tend to get closer to CGE predictions as the number of players increases; (3) prices and allocations in double auctions deviate persistently from CGE predictions; (4) the outcome paths across the three market mechanisms differ significantly and persistently; (5) importance of market structures for outcomes is reinforced by algorithmic trader simulations; and (6) none of the three markets dominates the others across six measures of performance. Inclusion of some mechanism differences into theory may enhance our understanding of important aspects of markets.

This document is currently not available here.