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An "Alternating Recognition" Model of English Auctions

  • Harstad, Ronald M.
  • Michael H. Rothkopf

We attempt a more realistic abstraction of an English (oral ascending) auction than the standard, in Milgrom and Weber [1982]. In particular, the assumptions that exists are irrevocable and necessarily public are dropped. In the model, the price rises in a stylization of an auctioneer alternately recognizing two bidders who affirm willingness to pay the current price. The auctioneer pays attention to other bidders only when a recognized bidder exists. Such exits may be temporary, although we construct an equilibrium in which there is no benefit to exit and re-entry. The number of public exits is stochastic; frequently a losing "bidder" will remain silent, giving no indication of his willingness to pay, and hence yielding no useful inference about his private information. Hence, the source of the expected revenue advantage of English auctions over second-price auctions is only stochastically available. Moreover, when public exits are incomplete, the ordinal rank of the bidder whose private information can be inferred is unknown, making the information less valuable. Consequently, the much simpler formula for expected revenue in second-price auctions may be the preferred approximation for English auctions.

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Paper provided by University of Bonn, Germany in its series Discussion Paper Serie B with number 348.

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Length: pages
Date of creation: Oct 1995
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bon:bonsfb:348
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Bonn Graduate School of Economics, University of Bonn, Adenauerallee 24 - 26, 53113 Bonn, Germany

Fax: +49 228 73 6884
Web page: http://www.bgse.uni-bonn.de

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  1. Paul Milgrom & Robert J. Weber, 1981. "A Theory of Auctions and Competitive Bidding," Discussion Papers 447R, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  2. Bikhchandani, Sushil & Riley, John G., 1991. "Equilibria in open common value auctions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 101-130, February.
  3. Graham, Daniel A. & Marshall, Robert C. & Richard, Jean-Francois, 1990. "Phantom bidding against heterogeneous bidders," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 13-17, January.
  4. Michael H. Rothkopf, 1969. "A Model of Rational Competitive Bidding," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 15(7), pages 362-373, March.
  5. Paul R. Milgrom, 1979. "Good Nevs and Bad News: Representation Theorems and Applications," Discussion Papers 407R, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  6. Levin, Dan & Harstad, Ronald M., 1986. "Symmetric bidding in second-price, common-value auctions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 315-319.
  7. Harstad, Ronald M, 1990. "Alternative Common-Value Auction Procedures: Revenue Comparisons with Free Entry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(2), pages 421-29, April.
  8. John G. Riley, 1988. "Ex Post Information in Auctions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 55(3), pages 409-429.
  9. Keith Waehrer & Ronald M. Harstad & Michael H. Rothkopf, 1998. "Auction Form Preferences of Risk-Averse Bid Takers," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 29(1), pages 179-192, Spring.
  10. William Vickrey, 1961. "Counterspeculation, Auctions, And Competitive Sealed Tenders," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 16(1), pages 8-37, 03.
  11. Michael H. Rothkopf & Ronald M. Harstad, 1994. "Modeling Competitive Bidding: A Critical Essay," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 40(3), pages 364-384, March.
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