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Optimal search auctions

  • Charles Zhoucheng Zheng
  • Jacques Cremer
  • Yossef Spiegel

We study the design of profit maximizing single unit auctions under the assumption that the seller needs to incur costs to contact prospective bidders and inform them about the auction. When bidders' types are independent (with^Mpossibly bidder-specific distributions) and their valuations are possibly interdependent, the seller's problem can be reduced to a (stochastic, history-contingent) search problem in which the surplus is measured in terms of virtual utilities minus search costs. Compared to the socially efficient mechanism, the optimal mechanism features fewer participants, longer search conditional on the same set of participants, and inefficient sequence of entry. When bidders' types are correlated, the seller cannot fully extract the social surplus for sure but can extract it with an arbitrarily high probability.

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Paper provided by Econometric Society in its series Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings with number 615.

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Date of creation: 11 Aug 2004
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Handle: RePEc:ecm:nasm04:615
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  1. Levin, Dan & Smith, James L, 1994. "Equilibrium in Auctions with Entry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 585-99, June.
  2. Dirk Bergemann & Juuso Vaimaki, 2000. "Information Acquisition and Efficient Mechanism Design," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1248, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  3. Burguet, Roberto, 1996. "Optimal Repeated Purchases When Sellers Are Learning about Costs," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 440-455, February.
  4. Asher Wolinsky, 1991. "Competition in a Market for Informed Experts' Services," Discussion Papers 959, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  5. Dirk Bergemann & Juuso Valimaki, 2005. "Information in Mechanism Design," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1532R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Jan 2006.
  6. Crémer, Jacques & Spiegel, Yossi & Zheng, Charles, 2003. "Optimal Selling Mechanisms wth Costly Information Acquisition," IDEI Working Papers 205, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  7. Roger B. Myerson, 1978. "Optimal Auction Design," Discussion Papers 362, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  8. repec:fgv:epgrbe:v:57:n:4:a:12 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Wolfgang Pesendorfer & Asher Wolinsky, 2003. "Second Opinions and Price Competition: Inefficiency in the Market for Expert Advice," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(2), pages 417-437, 04.
  10. Ye Lixin, 2004. "Optimal Auctions with Endogenous Entry," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-29, October.
  11. Paul Milgrom & Ilya Segal, 2002. "Envelope Theorems for Arbitrary Choice Sets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 583-601, March.
  12. Preston McAfee, R. & McMillan, John, 1988. "Search mechanisms," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 99-123, February.
  13. Alex Gershkov & Balazs Szentes, 2004. "Optimal Voting Schemes with Costly Information Acquisition," NajEcon Working Paper Reviews 122247000000000311, www.najecon.org.
  14. Weitzman, Martin L, 1979. "Optimal Search for the Best Alternative," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(3), pages 641-54, May.
  15. Vishwanath, Tara, 1992. "Parallel Search for the Best Alternative," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 2(4), pages 495-507, October.
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