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Detecting collusion in timber auctions : an application to Romania

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  • Saphores, Jean-Daniel
  • Vincent, Jeffrey R.
  • Marochko, Valy
  • Abrudan, Ioan
  • Bouriaud, Laura
  • Zinnes, Clifford
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    Abstract

    Romania was one of the first transition countries in Europe to introduce auctions for allocating standing timber (stumpage) in public forests. In comparison with the former system in the country-administrative allocation at set prices-timber auctions offer several potential advantages: greater revenue generation for the government, a higher probability that tracts will be allocated to the firms that value them most highly, and stronger incentives for technological change within industry and efficiency gains in the public sector. Competition is the key to realizing these advantages. Unfortunately, collusion among bidders often limits competition in timber auctions, including in well-established market economies such as the United States. The result is that tracts sell below their fair market value, which undermines the advantages of auctions. This paper examines the Romanian auction system, with a focus on the use of econometric methods to detect collusion. It begins by describing the historical development of the system and the principal steps in the auction process. It then discusses the qualitative impacts of various economic and institutional factors, including collusion, on winning bids in different regions of the country. This discussion draws on information from a combination of sources, including unstructured interviews conducted with government officials and company representatives during 2003. Next, the paper summarizes key findings from the broader research literature on auctions, with an emphasis on empirical studies that have developed econometric methods for detecting collusion. It then presents an application of such methods to timber auction data from two forest directorates in Romania, Neamt and Suceava. This application confirms that data from Romanian timber auctions can be used to determine the likelihood of collusion, and it suggests that collusion reduced winning bids in Suceava in 2002 and perhaps also in Neamt. The paper concludes with a discussion of actions that the government can take to reduce the incidence of collusion and minimize its impact on auction outcomes.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4105.

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    Date of creation: 01 Dec 2006
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    Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4105

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    Related research

    Keywords: Forestry; Wildlife Resources; Markets and Market Access; Access to Markets; Technology Industry;

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    References

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    1. Pesendorfer, Martin, 2000. "A Study of Collusion in First-Price Auctions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(3), pages 381-411, July.
    2. Khalaf, Lynda & Saphores, Jean-Daniel & Bilodeau, Jean-Francois, 2003. "Simulation-based exact jump tests in models with conditional heteroskedasticity," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 531-553, December.
    3. Kenneth HENDRICKS & Robert H. PORTER, 1989. "Collusion in Auctions," Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, ENSAE, issue 15-16, pages 217-230.
    4. Patrick Bajari & Lixin Ye, 2003. "Deciding Between Competition and Collusion," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 971-989, November.
    5. 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.
    6. Porter, Robert H & Zona, J Douglas, 1993. "Detection of Bid Rigging in Procurement Auctions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 518-38, June.
    7. Robert H. Porter & J. Douglas Zona, 1997. "Ohio School Milk Markets: An Analysis of Bidding," NBER Working Papers 6037, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Jean-Daniel Saphores & Lynda Khalaf & Denis Pelletier, 2002. "On Jumps and ARCH Effects in Natural Resource Prices: An Application to Pacific Northwest Stumpage Prices," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 84(2), pages 387-400.
    9. Brannman, Lance Eric, 1996. "Potential Competition and Possible Collusion in Forest Service Timber Auctions," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(4), pages 730-45, October.
    10. Hendricks, Kenneth & Porter, Robert H, 1988. "An Empirical Study of an Auction with Asymmetric Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 865-83, December.
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