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How Much Is a Dollar Worth? Tipping versus Equilibrium Coexistence on Competing Online Auction Sites

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  • Jennifer Brown
  • John Morgan

Abstract

Theory models of platform competition predict that prices and buyer-seller ratios should be approximately equal on coexisting auction sites. Using field experiments on eBay and Yahoo Auctions, we find evidence that is inconsistent with equilibrium hypotheses and suggest that the market is tipping. Prices on eBay are consistently 20-70 percent higher than those on Yahoo, and eBay attracts two additional buyers per seller. On Yahoo, prices and bidders counts are unaffected by the auction ending rule. Various differences between the sites cannot account for the magnitude of these disparities. However, a model of imitation dynamics can rationalize our findings. (c) 2009 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved..

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 117 (2009)
Issue (Month): 4 (08)
Pages: 668-700

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:117:y:2009:i:4:p:668-700

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  1. Jean-Charles Rochet & Jean Triole, 2002. "Platform Competition in Two Sided Markets," FMG Discussion Papers dp409, Financial Markets Group.
  2. John List & David Lucking-Reiley, 2000. "Demand reduction in a multi-unit auction: Evidence from a sportscard field experiment," Framed Field Experiments 00180, The Field Experiments Website.
  3. Jesse A. Schwartz & Ricardo Ungo, 2003. "Merging Auction Houses," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0303, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  4. John List & David Reiley, 2008. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00091, The Field Experiments Website.
  5. Fudenberg, Drew & Ellison, Glenn, 2003. "Knife-Edge or Plateau: When Do Market Models Tip?," Scholarly Articles 3160493, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. Ockenfels, Axel & Roth, Alvin E., 2006. "Late and multiple bidding in second price Internet auctions: Theory and evidence concerning different rules for ending an auction," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 297-320, May.
  7. Rama Katkar & David Lucking-Reiley, 2001. "Public Versus Secret Reserve Prices in eBay Auctions: Results from a Pokemon Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 8183, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Dan Ariely & Axel Ockenfels & Alvin E. Roth, 2005. "An Experimental Analysis of Ending Rules in Internet Auctions," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(4), pages 890-907, Winter.
  9. John A. List & David Lucking-Reiley, 2002. "Bidding Behavior and Decision Costs in Field Experiments," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 40(4), pages 611-619, October.
  10. Mark Mitchell & Todd Pulvino & Erik Stafford, 2002. "Limited Arbitrage in Equity Markets," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 57(2), pages 551-584, 04.
  11. David Lucking-Reiley, 1999. "Using field experiments to test equivalence between auction formats: Magic on the internet," Framed Field Experiments 00183, The Field Experiments Website.
  12. Gehrig, Thomas, 1998. "Competing markets," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 277-310, February.
  13. Tanjim Hossain & John Morgan, 2006. "...plus shipping and handling: Revenue (non) equivalence in field experiments on ebay," Natural Field Experiments 00270, The Field Experiments Website.
  14. repec:feb:framed:0052 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. McAfee, R Preston, 1993. "Mechanism Design by Competing Sellers," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(6), pages 1281-1312, November.
  16. van Raalte, Chris & Webers, Harry, 1998. "Spatial competition with intermediated matching," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 477-488, March.
  17. Caillaud, Bernard & Jullien, Bruno, 2003. " Chicken & Egg: Competition among Intermediation Service Providers," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 34(2), pages 309-28, Summer.
  18. Michael R. Baye & John Morgan, 2001. "Information Gatekeepers on the Internet and the Competitiveness of Homogeneous Product Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 454-474, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Alok Gupta & Stephen Parente & Pallab Sanyal, 2012. "Competitive bidding for health insurance contracts: lessons from the online HMO auctions," International Journal of Health Care Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 303-322, December.
  2. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00564888 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Glover, Brent & Raviv, Yaron, 2012. "Revenue non-equivalence between auctions with soft and hard closing mechanisms: New evidence from Yahoo!," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 129-136.

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