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Demand Reduction and Inefficiency in Multi-Unit Auctions

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Abstract

Auctions typically involve the sale of many related goods. The FCC spectrum auctions and the Treasury debt auctions are examples. With conventional auction designs, large bidders have an incentive to reduce demand in order to pay less for their winnings. This incentive creates an inefficiency in multi-unit auctions. Large bidders reduce demand for additional units and so sometimes lose to smaller bidders with lower values. We demonstrate this inefficiency in several auction settings: flat demand and downward-sloping demand, independent private values and correlated values, and uniform pricing and pay-your-bid pricing. We also establish that the ranking of the uniform-price and pay-your-bid auctions is ambiguous. We show how a Vickrey auction avoids this inefficiency and how the Vickrey auction can be implemented with a simultaneous, ascending-bid design (Ausubel 1997). Bidding behavior in the FCC spectrum auctions illustrates the incentives for demand reduction and the associated inefficiency.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:pcc:pccumd:98wpdr
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Auctions; Multi-Unit Auctions; Spectrum Auctions; Treasury Auctions;

    JEL classification:

    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions

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