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Auctions as Coordination Devices


  • Maarten C.W. Janssen

    (Department of Economics, Erasmus University)


This paper develops an economic argument relating auctions to high market prices. At the core of the argument is the claim that market competition and bidding in an auction should be analyzed as part of one game, where the pricing strategies in the market subgame depend on the bidding strategies during the auction. I show that when there are two licenses for sale the only equilibrium in the overall game that is consistent with the logic of forward induction is the one where firms bid an amount (almost) equal to the profits of the cooperative market outcome and follow a cooperative pricing strategy in the market game resulting in high prices. With three or more licenses the auction format determines whether the forward induction argument works.

Suggested Citation

  • Maarten C.W. Janssen, 2004. "Auctions as Coordination Devices," Working Papers 2004.13, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2004.13

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fudenberg, Drew & Mobius, Markus & Szeidl, Adam, 2007. "Existence of equilibrium in large double auctions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 133(1), pages 550-567, March.
    2. Wilson, Robert B, 1985. "Incentive Efficiency of Double Auctions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(5), pages 1101-1115, September.
    3. Mark A. Satterthwaite & Steven R. Williams, 1989. "The Rate of Convergence to Efficiency in the Buyer's Bid Double Auction as the Market Becomes Large," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(4), pages 477-498.
    4. Satterthwaite, Mark A. & Williams, Steven R., 1989. "Bilateral trade with the sealed bid k-double auction: Existence and efficiency," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 107-133, June.
    5. Steven R. Williams, 1991. "Existence and Convergence of Equilibria in the Buyer's Bid Double Auction," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 351-374.
    6. Rustichini, Aldo & Satterthwaite, Mark A & Williams, Steven R, 1994. "Convergence to Efficiency in a Simple Market with Incomplete Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(5), pages 1041-1063, September.
    7. Leininger, W. & Linhart, P. B. & Radner, R., 1989. "Equilibria of the sealed-bid mechanism for bargaining with incomplete information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 63-106, June.
    8. Zacharias, Eleftherios & Williams, Steven R., 2001. "Ex Post Efficiency in the Buyer's Bid Double Auction When Demand Can Be Arbitrarily Larger Than Supply," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 175-190, March.
    9. Williams, Steven R., 1987. "Efficient performance in two agent bargaining," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 154-172, February.
    10. Mark A. Satterthwaite & Steven R. Williams, 2002. "The Optimality of a Simple Market Mechanism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1841-1863, September.
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    More about this item


    Auctions; Market prices; Coordination;

    JEL classification:

    • L50 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - General

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