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Prices as indicators of scarcity - an experimental study of a multistage auction


  • Tanga McDaniel
  • Andreas Nicklisch



The price mecanism is the primary means of information transfer in decentralized economic systems. High prices indicate high demand, whereas low prices indicate low demand. Thus prices are the signals for accelerating or slowing production. However, using sequential, multi-unit auctions, we show that the price mechanism fails to be beneficial for producers in every case. As an example we discuss auctions for future access rights to a network. We use experiments to show that the incentives for free-riding inherent in auctions for future access provide inaccurate signals for investment.

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  • Tanga McDaniel & Andreas Nicklisch, 2004. "Prices as indicators of scarcity - an experimental study of a multistage auction," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2004-30, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
  • Handle: RePEc:esi:discus:2004-30

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Tanga McDaniel & Neuhoff, K., 2002. "Use of Long-term Auctions for Network Investment," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0213, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    2. McAfee, R. Preston & Vincent, Daniel, 1997. "Sequentially Optimal Auctions," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 246-276, February.
    3. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    4. Tibor Neugebauer & Paul Pezanis-Christou, 2003. "Bidding at Sequential First-Price Auctions with(out) Supply Uncertainty: a Laboratory Analysis," Working Papers 24, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    5. Tanga McDaniel & Neuhoff, K., 2002. "Auctions to gas transmission access: The British experience," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0234, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
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    auctions; capacity; experiments; investment; multiunit; networks; sequential;

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