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Precautionary Bidding: First Price Auctions with Stochastic Private Values


  • Peter Eso

    (Harvard University)

  • Lucy White

    (Oxford University)


We analyse a first-price auction where risk-averse bidders bid for an object whose value is risky. Using a private values setting, we provide the first analysis of the pure comparative statics of risk in auctions. We show that as risk increases, decreasingly risk-averse bidders will reduce their bids by more than the risk premium. Ceteris paribus, bidders will be better off bidding for a more risky object. This effect arises because as risk increases, so does the expected marginal utility of income, so bidders are reluctant to bid so highly. Even in the presence of this effect, the expected revenue of a first price auction remains higher than that of a second price auction. We show how this result extends to common values.

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  • Peter Eso & Lucy White, 2000. "Precautionary Bidding: First Price Auctions with Stochastic Private Values," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1116, Econometric Society.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecm:wc2000:1116

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kimball, Miles S, 1990. "Precautionary Saving in the Small and in the Large," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(1), pages 53-73, January.
    2. Maskin, Eric S & Riley, John G, 1984. "Optimal Auctions with Risk Averse Buyers," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(6), pages 1473-1518, November.
    3. Eeckhoudt, Louis & Gollier, Christian & Schlesinger, Harris, 1996. "Changes in Background Risk and Risk-Taking Behavior," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(3), pages 683-689, May.
    4. Kimball, Miles S, 1993. "Standard Risk Aversion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(3), pages 589-611, May.
    5. Ross, Stephen A, 1981. "Some Stronger Measures of Risk Aversion in the Small and the Large with Applications," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(3), pages 621-638, May.
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