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The Role of Outside Options in Auction Design

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  • Nicolás Figueroa
  • Vasiliki Skreta

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Abstract

This paper studies revenue maximizing auctions when buyers’ outside options depend on their private information. The set-up is very general and encompasses a large number of potential applications. The main novel message of our analysis is that with type-dependent non-participation payoffs, the revenue maximizing assignment of objects can crucially depend on the outside options that buyers face. Outside options can therefore affect the degree of efficiency of revenue maximizing auctions. We show that depending on the shape of outside options, sometimes an optimal mechanism will allocate the objects in an ex-post efficient way, and other times, buyers will obtain objects more often than it is efficient. Our characterization rings a bell of caution. Modeling buyers outside options as being independent of their private information, is with loss of generality and can lead to quite misleading intuitions. Our solution procedure can be useful also in other models where type-dependent outside options arise endogenously, because, for instance, buyers can collude or because there are competing sellers. Type-Dependent Outside Options: JEL D44, C7, C72.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicolás Figueroa & Vasiliki Skreta, 2007. "The Role of Outside Options in Auction Design," Documentos de Trabajo 231, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
  • Handle: RePEc:edj:ceauch:231
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fernando Branco, 1996. "Multiple unit auctions of an indivisible good," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 8(1), pages 77-101.
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    4. Gale, Ian, 1990. "A multiple-object auction with superadditive values," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 323-328, December.
    5. Jehiel, Philippe & Moldovanu, Benny & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1996. "How (Not) to Sell Nuclear Weapons," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 814-829, September.
    6. Vijay Krishna & Motty Perry, 1997. "Efficient Mechanism Design," Game Theory and Information 9703010, EconWPA, revised 28 Apr 1998.
    7. Jorge Aseff & Hector Chade, 2008. "An optimal auction with identity-dependent externalities," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(3), pages 731-746.
    8. Riley, John G & Samuelson, William F, 1981. "Optimal Auctions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 381-392, June.
    9. Lewis, Tracy R. & Sappington, David E. M., 1989. "Countervailing incentives in agency problems," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 294-313, December.
    10. Mark Armstrong, 2000. "Optimal Multi-Object Auctions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(3), pages 455-481.
    11. Engelbrecht-Wiggans, Richard, 1988. "Revenue equivalence in multi-object auctions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 15-19.
    12. Christopher Avery & Terrence Hendershott, 2000. "Bundling and Optimal Auctions of Multiple Products," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(3), pages 483-497.
    13. Krishna, Vijay & Maenner, Eliot, 2001. "Convex Potentials with an Application to Mechanism Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(4), pages 1113-1119, July.
    14. Jullien, Bruno, 2000. "Participation Constraints in Adverse Selection Models," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 93(1), pages 1-47, July.
    15. Paul Klemperer, 2004. "Auctions: Theory and Practice," Online economics textbooks, SUNY-Oswego, Department of Economics, number auction1, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Vasiliki Skreta, 2011. "On the informed seller problem: optimal information disclosure," Review of Economic Design, Springer;Society for Economic Design, vol. 15(1), pages 1-36, March.
    2. Nicolás Figueroa & Vasiliki Skreta, 2007. "Note on Optimal Auctions," Documentos de Trabajo 232, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
    3. Jorge Aseff & Hector Chade, 2008. "An optimal auction with identity-dependent externalities," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(3), pages 731-746.
    4. Laurent Lamy, 2007. "Contingent Auctions with Allocative Externalities: Vickrey vs. the Ausubel-Milgrom Proxy Auction," 2007 Meeting Papers 427, Society for Economic Dynamics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games

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