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Tacit Collusion In Auctions And Conditions For Its Facilitation And Prevention: Equilibrium Selection In Laboratory Experimental Markets

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  • JIN LI
  • CHARLES R. PLOTT

Abstract

"The paper studies bidder behavior in simultaneous, continuous, ascending price auctions. We design and implement a "collusion incubator" environment based on a type of public, symmetrically "folded" and "item-aligned" preferences. Tacit collusion develops quickly and reliably within the environment. Once tacit collusion developed, it proved remarkably robust to institutional changes that weakened it as an equilibrium of a game-theoretic model. The only successful remedy was a non-public change in the preference of participants that destroyed the symmetrically, "folded" and "item aligned" patterns of preferences, creating head-to-head competition between two agents reminiscent of the concept of a "maverick.""("JEL "L50, L94, D43) Copyright (c) 2008 Western Economic Association International.

Suggested Citation

  • Jin Li & Charles R. Plott, 2009. "Tacit Collusion In Auctions And Conditions For Its Facilitation And Prevention: Equilibrium Selection In Laboratory Experimental Markets," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 47(3), pages 425-448, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ecinqu:v:47:y:2009:i:3:p:425-448
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Menezes, Flavio M., 1996. "Multiple-unit English auctions," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 671-684, December.
    2. Alvin E. Roth & Axel Ockenfels, 2002. "Last-Minute Bidding and the Rules for Ending Second-Price Auctions: Evidence from eBay and Amazon Auctions on the Internet," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 1093-1103.
    3. Katerina Sherstyuk, 1999. "Collusion Without Conspiracy: An Experimental Study of One-Sided Auctions," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 2(1), pages 59-75, August.
    4. Cramton, Peter & Schwartz, Jesse A, 2000. "Collusive Bidding: Lessons from the FCC Spectrum Auctions," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 229-252, May.
    5. Sandro Brusco & Giuseppe Lopomo, 2002. "Collusion via Signalling in Simultaneous Ascending Bid Auctions with Heterogeneous Objects, with and without Complementarities," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(2), pages 407-436.
    6. Brewer, Paul J. & Plott, Charles R., 1996. "A binary conflict ascending price (BICAP) mechanism for the decentralized allocation of the right to use railroad tracks," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 14(6), pages 857-886, October.
    7. Paul Milgrom, 2000. "Putting Auction Theory to Work: The Simultaneous Ascending Auction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(2), pages 245-272, April.
    8. Isaac, R. Mark & Walker, James M., 1985. "Information and conspiracy in sealed bid auctions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 139-159, June.
    9. Sherstyuk, Katerina, 2002. "Collusion in private value ascending price auctions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 177-195, June.
    10. Isaac, R. Mark & Plott, Charles R., 1981. "The opportunity for conspiracy in restraint of trade : An experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 1-30, March.
    11. Plott, Charles R. & Salmon, Timothy C., 2004. "The simultaneous, ascending auction: dynamics of price adjustment in experiments and in the UK3G spectrum auction," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 353-383, March.
    12. James J. Anton & Dennis A. Yao, 1992. "Coordination in Split Award Auctions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 681-707.
    13. 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 865-883, December.
    14. Anthony M. Kwasnica & Katerina Sherstyuk, 2007. "Collusion and Equilibrium Selection in Auctions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(516), pages 120-145, January.
    15. Plott, Charles R, 1982. "Industrial Organization Theory and Experimental Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, pages 1485-1527.
    16. Marc S. Robinson, 1985. "Collusion and the Choice of Auction," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(1), pages 141-145, Spring.
    17. Isaac, R Mark & Smith, Vernon L, 1985. "In Search of Predatory Pricing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(2), pages 320-345, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Engelmann, Dirk & Müller, Wieland, 2011. "Collusion through price ceilings? In search of a focal-point effect," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 291-302, August.
    2. Francesco Feri & Anita Gantner & Wolfgang Höchtl & Rupert Sausgruber, 2013. "The pivotal mechanism revisited: some evidence on group manipulation," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 16(1), pages 23-51, March.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L50 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - General
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities
    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection

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