Open Outcry Market

Betty J. Blecha, San Francisco State University
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This example is an in-class market simulation conducted with paper cards assigning each student a buyer or seller role and a reservation price. This example is appropriate for both upper and lower division courses. Open Outcry Market was developed by Barry P. Keating at the University of Notre Dame.

Learning Goals

The simulation creates a trading pit atmosphere in which students must buy and sell guided by their reservation prices. Students thus learn all the basic concepts associated with market equilibrium. The results can also be extended to include a discussion of producer and consumer surplus.

Context for Use

The simulation is appropriate for small to medium sized classes. It is not appropriate for large classes.

Description and Teaching Materials

Economics instructors have been using in-class market simulations with paper cards for many years. What sets this example apart is the exceptionally well done Open Outcry Market web site. To use this example, an instructor simply needs to prepare the cards and have students read the instructions on the web site. The cards can be prepared with Excel or by simply drawing a market diagram and assigning the reservation prices using the diagram.

Instructor preparation: One hour (mainly to prepare the cards)
Class preparation: 10 minutes
Class simulation: 15 minutes

Teaching Notes and Tips

Some tips for using the simulation in the most effective way:
  • The simulation should be carefully tied to the text the students are using in the course.
  • Some principles texts introduce consumer and producer surplus. If so, students should be shown how to calculate these magnitudes from their simulation results.
  • The images on the web site give students some expectation of what will happen when they do the simulation. An instructor should use the images to explain that traders need to be aggressive to find buyers and sellers before the class does the simulation.


All traditional forms of assessment can be used. For more information about assessment, see the SERC assessment module.

References and Resources

The text the students are using in the course.

Open Outcry Market is one of several simulations available from link no longer working.