Auctions for Government Securities: A Laboratory Comparison of Uniform, Discriminatory and Spanish Designs
The Bank of Spain uses a unique auction format to sell government bonds, which can be seen as a hybrid of a uniform and a discriminatory auction. For winning bids above the average winning bid, buyers are charged the average winning bid, otherwise they pay their respective bids. We report on an experiment that compares this auction format to the discriminatory format, used in most other countries, and to the uniform format. Our design is based on a common value model with multi-unit supply and two-unit demand. The results show significantly higher revenue with the Spanish and the uniform formats than with the discriminatory one, while volatility of prices over time is significantly lower in the discriminatory format than in the Spanish and uniform cases. Actual price dispersion is significantly larger in the discriminatory than in the Spanish. Our data also exhibit the use of bid-spreading strategies in all three designs.
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