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Merging Auction Houses

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Author Info

  • Jesse A. Schwartz

    (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)

  • Ricardo Ungo

    (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)

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    Abstract

    In this paper, we study the incentives for market concentration of (online and traditional) auction houses. Would sellers and buyers be better off if two separate auction houses merged? We suppose that each auction house has a separate clientele of sellers and buyers. Sellers value their (identical) units at 0, while buyers have independent private values. Each auction house uses an ascending auction or by revenue equivalence any auction mechanism that allocates units efficiently among those buyers at that auction house. If no buyers are lost upon the merger, we find that efficiency gains increase, but that the expected sellers' revenue increases by more than the efficiency gains, leaving the buyers worse off. This result extends Bulow and Klemperer's (1996) insight that the competition of an additional bidder increases auction revenue by more than the ability to commit to an optimal auction with one less bidder; in our model, the extra competition created by having all of the bidders bid against each other after the merger more than offsets any supply effects. With an example, we show that if buyers choose whether to participate or not, it is possible upon a merger that so many buyers are lost, the sellers are actually worse off. We conclude that without transfers from sellers to buyers, the merger may or may not be profitable for sellers.

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    File URL: http://www.accessecon.com/pubs/VUECON/vu03-w03.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2003
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Vanderbilt University Department of Economics in its series Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers with number 0303.

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    Date of creation: Feb 2003
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    Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0303

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    Web page: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/econ/wparchive/index.html

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    Keywords: Auctions; mergers;

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    References

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    1. Glenn Ellison & Drew Fudenberg & Markus Mobius, 2010. "Competing Auctions," Levine's Working Paper Archive 506439000000000092, David K. Levine.
    2. Paul Milgrom & Robert J. Weber, 1981. "A Theory of Auctions and Competitive Bidding," Discussion Papers 447R, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    3. Peters, Michael & Severinov, Sergei, 2006. "Internet auctions with many traders," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 130(1), pages 220-245, September.
    4. Klemperer, Paul, 1999. " Auction Theory: A Guide to the Literature," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(3), pages 227-86, July.
    5. McAfee, R Preston & McMillan, John, 1992. "Bidding Rings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 579-99, June.
      • McAfee, R. Preston & McMillan, John., 1990. "Bidding Rings," Working Papers 726, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
    6. Bulow, Jeremy & Klemperer, Paul, 1996. "Auctions versus Negotiations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 180-94, March.
    7. Engelbrecht-Wiggans, Richard, 1988. "Revenue equivalence in multi-object auctions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 15-19.
    8. Roger B. Myerson, 1978. "Optimal Auction Design," Discussion Papers 362, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    9. Bulow, Jeremy & Roberts, John, 1989. "The Simple Economics of Optimal Auctions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1060-90, October.
    10. Paul Milgrom & Ilya Segal, 2002. "Envelope Theorems for Arbitrary Choice Sets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 583-601, March.
    11. Salant, Stephen W & Switzer, Sheldon & Reynolds, Robert J, 1983. "Losses from Horizontal Merger: The Effects of an Exogenous Change in Industry Structure on Cournot-Nash Equilibrium," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(2), pages 185-99, May.
    12. Austan Goolsbee & Judith Chevalier, 2002. "Measuring Prices and Price Competition Online: Amazon and Barnes and Noble," NBER Working Papers 9085, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Levin, Dan & Smith, James L, 1994. "Equilibrium in Auctions with Entry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 585-99, June.
    14. Marshall Robert C. & Meurer Michael J. & Richard Jean-Francois & Stromquist Walter, 1994. "Numerical Analysis of Asymmetric First Price Auctions," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 193-220, September.
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    Cited by:
    1. Jennifer Brown & John Morgan, 2009. "How Much Is a Dollar Worth? Tipping versus Equilibrium Coexistence on Competing Online Auction Sites," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(4), pages 668-700, 08.

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