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Putting Auction Theory to Work: The Simultaneous Ascending Auction

  • Paul Milgrom

December 8, 1997 (Revised April 21, 1999) We review the uses of economic theory in the initial design and later improvement of the "simultaneous ascending auction," which was developed initially for the sale of radio spectrum licenses in the US, with efficiency of the final allocation as the statutory goal. We analyze some capabilities and inherent limitations of the auction, the roles of various detailed rules, the possibilities for introducing combinatorial bidding, and some considerations in adapting the auction for sales with a revenue goal.

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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 108 (2000)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 245-272

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:108:y:2000:i:2:p:245-272
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  1. Banks, Jeffrey S. & Ledyard, John O. & Porter, David P., . "Allocating Uncertain and Unresponsive Resources," Working Papers 680, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  2. Carolyn Pitchik & Andrew Schotter, 1988. "Perfect Equilibria in Budget-Constrained Sequential Auctions: An Experimental Study," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 19(3), pages 363-388, Autumn.
  3. Engelbrecht-Wiggans, Richard, 1988. "Revenue equivalence in multi-object auctions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 15-19.
  4. Kelso, Alexander S, Jr & Crawford, Vincent P, 1982. "Job Matching, Coalition Formation, and Gross Substitutes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1483-1504, November.
  5. Peter Cramton, 1997. "The FCC Spectrum Auctions: An Early Assessment," Papers of Peter Cramton 97jemsfcc, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 12 Jul 1998.
  6. Palfrey, Thomas R, 1983. "Bundling Decisions by a Multiproduct Monopolist with Incomplete Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(2), pages 463-83, March.
  7. Ledyard, J.O. & Noussair, C. & Porter, D., 1994. "The Allocation of Shared Resource within an Organization," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1063, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  8. Theodore Groves & Martin Loeb, 1974. "Incentives and Public Inputs," Discussion Papers 29, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  9. Milgrom, Paul R & Weber, Robert J, 1982. "A Theory of Auctions and Competitive Bidding," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1089-1122, September.
  10. Paul R. Milgrom, 1985. "Auction Theory," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 779, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  11. Jeffrey S. Banks & John O. Ledyard & David P. Porter, 1989. "Allocating Uncertain and Unresponsive Resources: An Experimental Approach," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 20(1), pages 1-25, Spring.
  12. Peter Cramton, 1995. "Money Out of Thin Air: The Nationwide Narrowband PCS Auction," Papers of Peter Cramton 95jems, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 09 Jun 1998.
  13. Lawrence M. Ausubel & Peter Cramton, 1995. "Demand Reduction and Inefficiency in Multi-Unit Auctions," Papers of Peter Cramton 98wpdr, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 22 Jul 2002.
  14. R. Preston McAfee & John McMillan, 1996. "Analyzing the Airwaves Auction," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 159-175, Winter.
  15. Lisa J. Cameron & Peter Cramton & Robert Wilson, 1997. "Using Auctions to Divest Generation Assets," Papers of Peter Cramton 97elec, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 09 Jun 1998.
  16. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1991. "Adaptive and sophisticated learning in normal form games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 82-100, February.
  17. William Vickrey, 1961. "Counterspeculation, Auctions, And Competitive Sealed Tenders," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 16(1), pages 8-37, 03.
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