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Auctions with heterogeneous entry costs

  • Diego Moreno
  • John Wooders

We study the impact of public and secret reserve prices in auctions where buyers have independent private values and heterogeneous entry costs. We find that in a standard auction the optimal (i.e., revenue maximizing) public reserve price is typically above the seller's value. Moreover, an appropriate entry fee together with a public reserve price equal to the seller's value generates greater revenue. Secret reserve prices, however, differ across auction formats. In a second-price sealed-bid auction the secret reserve price is above the optimal public reserve price; hence there is less entry, a smaller probability of sale, and both the seller revenue and the bidders' utility are less than with an optimal public reserve price. In contrast, in a first-price sealed-bid auction the secret reserve is equal to the seller's value, and the bidders' expected utility (seller revenue) is greater (less) than with an optimal public reserve price.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1756-2171.2011.00135.x
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Article provided by RAND Corporation in its journal RAND Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 42 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (06)
Pages: 313-336

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Handle: RePEc:bla:randje:v:42:y:2011:i:2:p:313-336
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  1. Riley, John G & Samuelson, William F, 1981. "Optimal Auctions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 381-92, June.
  2. Roger B. Myerson, 1978. "Optimal Auction Design," Discussion Papers 362, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  3. Levin, Dan & Smith, James L, 1994. "Equilibrium in Auctions with Entry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 585-99, June.
  4. Vincent Daniel R., 1995. "Bidding Off the Wall: Why Reserve Prices May Be Kept Secret," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 575-584, April.
  5. Holmstrom, Bengt & Myerson, Roger B, 1983. "Efficient and Durable Decision Rules with Incomplete Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(6), pages 1799-819, November.
  6. McAfee, R. Preston & McMillan, John, 1987. "Auctions with entry," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 343-347.
  7. Ye Lixin, 2004. "Optimal Auctions with Endogenous Entry," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-29, October.
  8. Green, Jerry & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1984. "Participation constraints in the vickrey auction," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 16(1-2), pages 31-36.
  9. Ashenfelter, Orley, 1989. "How Auctions Work for Wine and Art," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 23-36, Summer.
  10. Samuelson, William F., 1985. "Competitive bidding with entry costs," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 17(1-2), pages 53-57.
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