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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Kirkegaard, René & Overgaard, Per Baltzer, "undated". "Buy-Out Prices in Online Auctions: Multi-Unit Demand," Economics Working Papers 2003-4, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
  • Handle: RePEc:aah:aarhec:2003-4

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Klemperer, Paul, 1999. " Auction Theory: A Guide to the Literature," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(3), pages 227-286, July.
    2. 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 607-628, Winter.
    3. Bulow, Jeremy & Roberts, John, 1989. "The Simple Economics of Optimal Auctions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1060-1090, October.
    4. Stanley Reynolds & John Wooders, 2009. "Auctions with a buy price," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 38(1), pages 9-39, January.
    5. Katzman, Brett, 1999. "A Two Stage Sequential Auction with Multi-Unit Demands," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 77-99, May.
    6. Lucking-Reiley, David, 2000. "Auctions on the Internet: What's Being Auctioned, and How?," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(3), pages 227-252, September.
    7. Mark Bagnoli & Ted Bergstrom, 2005. "Log-concave probability and its applications," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 26(2), pages 445-469, August.
    8. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jérémie Gallien & Shobhit Gupta, 2007. "Temporary and Permanent Buyout Prices in Online Auctions," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 53(5), pages 814-833, May.
    2. Stanley Reynolds & John Wooders, 2009. "Auctions with a buy price," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 38(1), pages 9-39, January.
    3. repec:wsi:igtrxx:v:08:y:2006:i:04:n:s0219198906001132 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. René Kirkegaard & Per Baltzer Overgaard, 2008. "Buy-out prices in auctions: seller competition and multi-unit demands," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(3), pages 770-789.
    5. repec:eee:trapol:v:62:y:2018:i:c:p:63-78 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Axel Ockenfels & David Reiley & Abdolkarim Sadrieh, 2006. "Online Auctions," NBER Working Papers 12785, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item


    Sequential Auctions; Multi-Unit Demand; Buy-Out Prices;

    JEL classification:

    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design


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