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Collusive Bidding: Lessons from the FCC Spectrum Auctions

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) spectrum auctions use a simultaneous ascending auction design. Bidders bid on numerous communication licenses simultaneously, with bidding remaining open on all licenses until no bidder is willing to bid higher on any license. With full revelation of bidding information, simultaneous open bidding allows bidders to send messages to their rivals, telling them on which licenses to bid and which to avoid. These strategies can help bidders coordinate a division of the licenses, and enforce the proposed division by directed punishments. We examine solutions to mitigate collusive bidding in the spectrum auctions, and then apply these ideas to the design of daily electricity auctions.

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File URL: http://www.cramton.umd.edu/papers2000-2004/00jre-collusive-bidding-lessons.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton in its series Papers of Peter Cramton with number 00jre.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: May 2000
Date of revision: 09 Mar 1999
Publication status: Published in Journal of Regulatory Economics, 17:1, 229-252, May 2000.
Handle: RePEc:pcc:pccumd:00jre
Contact details of provider: Postal: Economics Department, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742-7211
Phone: (202) 318-0520
Fax: (202) 318-0520
Web page: http://www.cramton.umd.edu

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  1. Lawrence M. Ausubel & Peter Cramton & R. Preston McAfee & John McMillan, 1997. "Synergies in Wireless Telephony: Evidence from the Broadband PCS Auctions," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(3), pages 497-527, 09.
  2. Jeremy Bulow & Paul Klemperer, 1994. "Auctions vs. Negotiations," NBER Working Papers 4608, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. R. Preston McAfee & John McMillan, 1996. "Analyzing the Airwaves Auction," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 159-175, Winter.
  4. Lawrence M. Ausubel & Peter Cramton, 1998. "The Optimality of Being Efficient," Papers of Peter Cramton 98wpoe, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 18 Jun 1999.
  5. Mailath, George J. & Zemsky, Peter, 1991. "Collusion in second price auctions with heterogeneous bidders," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 467-486, November.
  6. Baldwin, Laura H & Marshall, Robert C & Richard, Jean-Francois, 1997. "Bidder Collusion at Forest Service Timber Sales," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(4), pages 657-99, August.
  7. Michael H. Rothkopf & Aleksandar Peke\v{c} & Ronald M. Harstad, 1998. "Computationally Manageable Combinational Auctions," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 44(8), pages 1131-1147, August.
  8. Cramton Peter & Schwartz Jesse A, 2002. "Collusive Bidding in the FCC Spectrum Auctions," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 1-20, December.
  9. Robert J. Weber, 1997. "Making More from Less: Strategic Demand Reduction in the FCC Spectrum Auctions," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(3), pages 529-548, 09.
  10. Lawrence M. Ausubel & Peter Cramton, 1995. "Demand Reduction and Inefficiency in Multi-Unit Auctions," Papers of Peter Cramton 98wpdr, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 22 Jul 2002.
  11. Paul Milgrom, 2000. "Putting Auction Theory to Work: The Simultaneous Ascending Auction," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(2), pages 245-272, April.
  12. Bykowsky, Mark M. & Cull, Robert J. & Ledyard, John O., 1998. "Mutually Destructive Bidding: The FCC Auction Design Problem," Working Papers 916, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  13. Graham, Daniel A & Marshall, Robert C, 1987. "Collusive Bidder Behavior at Single-Object Second-Price and English Auctions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(6), pages 1217-39, December.
  14. Peter Cramton, 1997. "The FCC Spectrum Auctions: An Early Assessment," Papers of Peter Cramton 97jemsfcc, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 12 Jul 1998.
  15. Milgrom, Paul R & Weber, Robert J, 1982. "A Theory of Auctions and Competitive Bidding," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1089-1122, September.
  16. Peter Cramton & John McMillan & Paul Milgrom & Bradley Miller & Bridger Mitchell & Daniel Vincent & Robert Wilson, 1998. "Simultaneous Ascending Auctions with Package Bidding," Papers of Peter Cramton 98cra2, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton.
  17. Peter Cramton, 1995. "Money Out of Thin Air: The Nationwide Narrowband PCS Auction," Papers of Peter Cramton 95jems, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 09 Jun 1998.
  18. John McMillan, 1994. "Selling Spectrum Rights," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(3), pages 145-162, Summer.
  19. Drew Fudenberg & Eric Maskin, 1998. "The Folk Theorem for Repeated Games with Discounting and Incomplete Information," Levine's Working Paper Archive 224, David K. Levine.
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