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The relation between variance and information rent in auctions

  • Katzman, Brett
  • Reif, Julian
  • Schwartz, Jesse A.

This paper examines the conventional wisdom, expressed in McAfee and McMillan's (1987) widely cited survey paper on auctions, that links increased variance of bidder values to increased information rent. We find that although the conventional wisdom does indeed hold in their (1986) model of a linear contract auction, this relationship is an artifact of that particular model and cannot be generalized. Using Samuelson's (1987) model, which is similar but allows for unobservable costs, we show that increased variance does not always imply increased information rent. Finally, we give the appropriate measure of dispersion (different from variance) that provides the link between the bidder value distribution and information rent.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal International Journal of Industrial Organization.

Volume (Year): 28 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Pages: 127-130

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Handle: RePEc:eee:indorg:v:28:y:2010:i:2:p:127-130
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505551

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  1. Vuong, Q. & Laffont, J.J. & Elyakime, B. & Loisel, P., 1995. "Auctioning and Bargaining: An Econometric Study of Timber Auctions with Secret Reservation Prices," Papers 9502, Southern California - Department of Economics.
  2. R. Preston McAfee & John McMillan, 1986. "Bidding for Contracts: A Principal-Agent Analysis," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(3), pages 326-338, Autumn.
  3. Baldwin, Laura H & Marshall, Robert C & Richard, Jean-Francois, 1997. "Bidder Collusion at Forest Service Timber Sales," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(4), pages 657-99, August.
  4. Francesco Decarolis, 2009. "When the highest bidder loses the auction: theory and evidence from public procurement," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 717, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  5. Susan Athey & Jonathan Levin & Enrique Seira, 2008. "Comparing Open and Sealed Bid Auctions: Evidence from Timber Auctions," NBER Working Papers 14590, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Alain Chateauneuf & Michèle Cohen & Isaac Meilijson, 2004. "Four notions of mean preserving increase in risk, risk attitudes and applications to the Rank-Dependent Expected Utility model," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00212281, HAL.
  7. Han Hong & Matthew Shum, 2002. "Increasing Competition and the Winner's Curse: Evidence from Procurement," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 871-898.
  8. Elena Krasnokutskaya, 2004. "Identification and Estimation in Highway Procurement Auctions under Unobserved Auction Heterogeneity," PIER Working Paper Archive 05-006, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  9. Patrick Bajari & Stephanie Houghton & Steve Tadelis, 2006. "Bidding for Incomplete Contracts: An Empirical Analysis," NBER Working Papers 12051, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. Samuelson, William, 1987. "Auctions with Contingent Payments: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 740-45, September.
  12. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521536721 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. McAfee, R Preston & McMillan, John, 1987. "Auctions and Bidding," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 699-738, June.
  14. Han Hong, 2000. "Increasing Competition and the Winner's Curse: Evidence from Procurement," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1628, Econometric Society.
  15. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521551847 is not listed on IDEAS
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