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Buy-Out Prices in Online Auctions: Multi-Unit Demand

  • Kirkegaard, René
  • Overgaard, Per Baltzer

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Aarhus, Denmark)

On many online auction sites it is now possible for a seller to augment his auction with a maximum or buy-out price. The use of this instrument has been justified in "one-shot" auctions by appeal to impatience or risk aversion. Here we offer additional justification by observing that trading on Internet auctions is not of a "one-shot" nature, but that market participants expect more transactions in the future. This has important implications when bidders desire multiple objects. Specifically, it is shown that an early seller has an incentive to introduce a buy-out price, if similar products are offered later on by other sellers. The buy- ut price will increase revenue in the current auction, but revenue in future auctions will decrease, as will the sum of revenues. In contrast, if a single seller owns multiple units, overall revenue will increase, if buyers anticipate the use of buy-out prices in the future by this seller. In both cases, an optimally chosen buy-out price introduces potential inefficiencies in the allocation.

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Paper provided by School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhus in its series Economics Working Papers with number 2003-4.

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Length: 48
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Handle: RePEc:aah:aarhec:2003-4
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.au.dk/afn/

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  1. Black, Jane & De Meza, David, 1992. "Systematic Price Differences between Successive Auctions Are No Anomaly," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(4), pages 607-28, Winter.
  2. Katzman, Brett, 1999. "A Two Stage Sequential Auction with Multi-Unit Demands," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 77-99, May.
  3. Budish, Eric B. & Takeyama, Lisa N., 2001. "Buy prices in online auctions: irrationality on the internet?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 72(3), pages 325-333, September.
  4. Bulow, Jeremy & Roberts, John, 1989. "The Simple Economics of Optimal Auctions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1060-90, October.
  5. John Wooders & Stanley S. Reynolds, 2004. "Auctions with a Buy Price," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 130, Econometric Society.
  6. Klemperer, Paul, 1999. " Auction Theory: A Guide to the Literature," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(3), pages 227-86, July.
  7. Lucking-Reiley, David, 2000. "Auctions on the Internet: What's Being Auctioned, and How?," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(3), pages 227-52, September.
  8. Bagnoli, M. & Bergstrom, T., 1989. "Log-Concave Probability And Its Applications," Papers 89-23, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
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