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Seller Cheap Talk in Common Value Auctions


  • Archishman Chakraborty

    (Baruch College CUNY)

  • Nandini Gupta

    (William Davidson Institute, University of Michigan)

  • Rick Harbaugh

    (Claremont McKenna College)


Sellers benefit on average from revealing information about their goods to buyers, but the incentive to exaggerate undermines the credibility of seller statements. When multiple goods are being auctioned, we show that ordinal cheap talk, which reveals a complete or partial ordering of the different goods by value, can be credible. Ordinal statements are not susceptible to exaggeration because they simultaneously reveal favorable information about some goods and unfavorable information about other goods. Any informative ordering increases revenues in accordance with the linkage principle, and the complete ordering is asymptotically revenue-equivalent to full revelation as the number of goods becomes large. These results provide a new explanation in addition to bundling, versioning, and complementarities for how a seller benefits from the sale of multiple goods.

Suggested Citation

  • Archishman Chakraborty & Nandini Gupta & Rick Harbaugh, 2002. "Seller Cheap Talk in Common Value Auctions," Claremont Colleges Working Papers 2002-30, Claremont Colleges.
  • Handle: RePEc:clm:clmeco:2002-30

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bali, Valentina & Jackson, Matthew, 2002. "Asymptotic Revenue Equivalence in Auctions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 106(1), pages 161-176, September.
    2. Barry Nalebuff, 2000. "Competing Against Bundles," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm157, Yale School of Management.
    3. Varian, Hal R., 1989. "Price discrimination," Handbook of Industrial Organization,in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 10, pages 597-654 Elsevier.
    4. Farrell, Joseph & Gibbons, Robert, 1989. "Cheap talk can matter in bargaining," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 221-237, June.
    5. Milgrom, Paul R & Weber, Robert J, 1982. "A Theory of Auctions and Competitive Bidding," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1089-1122, September.
    6. Jeroen M. Swinkels & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2000. "Efficiency and Information Aggregation in Auctions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 499-525, June.
    7. Crawford, Vincent P & Sobel, Joel, 1982. "Strategic Information Transmission," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1431-1451, November.
    8. S.J. Rassenti & V.L. Smith & R.L. Bulfin, 1982. "A Combinatorial Auction Mechanism for Airport Time Slot Allocation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 402-417, Autumn.
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    Cited by:

    1. Archishman Chakraborty & Nandini Gupta & Rick Harbaugh, 2006. "Best foot forward or best for last in a sequential auction?," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(1), pages 176-194, March.
    2. Chakraborty, Archishman & Harbaugh, Rick, 2007. "Comparative cheap talk," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 132(1), pages 70-94, January.
      • Archishman Chakraborty & Rick Harbaugh, 2004. "Comparative Cheap Talk," Working Papers 2004-08, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.

    More about this item


    cheap talk; linkage principle; winner's curse; auctions;

    JEL classification:

    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality

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