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How to Win Twice at an Auction: On the Incidence of Commissions in Auction Markets

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  • Ginsburgh, Victor
  • Legros, Patrick
  • Sahuguet, Nicolas

Abstract

We analyse the welfare consequences of an increase in the commissions charged by intermediaries in auction markets. We argue that while commissions are similar to taxes imposed on buyers and sellers the question of incidence deserves a new treatment in auction markets. We show that an increase in commissions makes sellers worse off, but buyers may strictly gain. The results are therefore strikingly different from the standard result that all consumers weakly lose after a tax or a commission increase. Our results are useful for evaluating compensation in price fixing conspiracies; in particular they suggest that the method used to distribute compensations in the class action against auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s was misguided.

Suggested Citation

  • Ginsburgh, Victor & Legros, Patrick & Sahuguet, Nicolas, 2005. "How to Win Twice at an Auction: On the Incidence of Commissions in Auction Markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 4876, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4876
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Krishna, Vijay, 2009. "Auction Theory," Elsevier Monographs, Elsevier, edition 2, number 9780123745071, August.
    2. Burguet, Roberto & Sakovics, Jozsef, 1999. "Imperfect Competition in Auction Designs," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 40(1), pages 231-247, February.
    3. Richard Engelbrecht-Wiggans, 1987. "On Optimal Reservation Prices in Auctions," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 33(6), pages 763-770, June.
    4. Orley Ashenfelter & Kathryn Graddy, 2003. "Auctions and the Price of Art," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(3), pages 763-787, September.
    5. Michael R. Baye & John Morgan, 2001. "Information Gatekeepers on the Internet and the Competitiveness of Homogeneous Product Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 454-474, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:oup:jcomle:v:1:y:2005:i:1:p:3-20. is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:pri:cepsud:102ashenfelter is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Orley Ashenfelter & Kathryn Graddy, 2005. "Anatomy of the Rise and Fall of a Price-Fixing Conspiracy: Auctions at Sotheby's and Christie's," Journal of Competition Law and Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(1), pages 3-20.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    auctions; commissions; intermediation; welfare;

    JEL classification:

    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • L12 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Monopoly; Monopolization Strategies
    • L40 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - General

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