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Internet Auctions with Many Traders

  • Peters, Michael
  • Severinov, Sergei

We study a multi-unit auction environment similar to eBay. Sellers, each with a single unit of a homogenous good, set reserve prices at their own independent second-price auctions. Each buyer has a private value for the good and wishes to acquire a single unit. Buyers can bid as often as they like and move between the sellers' auctions in a dynamic environment. We characterize a perfect Bayesian equilibrium for this decentralized trading mechanism in which, conditional on reserve prices, an efficient set of trades occurs at a uniform trading price. When the number of buyers and sellers is large but finite, the sellers set reserve prices equal to their true costs under a very mild distributional assumption, so ex-post efficiency is achieved. The buyers' strategies in this equilibrium are very simple and do not depend on their beliefs about the other buyers' valuations, or the number of buyers and sellers. They bid almost myopically. Their only `sophisticated' choice is where to bid when they are indifferent between several sellers.

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Paper provided by Vancouver School of Economics in its series Microeconomics.ca working papers with number peters-05-03-30-03-06-03.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: 30 Mar 2005
Date of revision: 23 Jan 2006
Handle: RePEc:ubc:pmicro:peters-05-03-30-03-06-03
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.economics.ubc.ca/

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  1. Ángel Hernando Veciana, 2001. "Competition Among Auctioneers," Working Papers. Serie AD 2001-18, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  2. 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 1041-63, September.
  3. Roth, Alvin E. & Sotomayor, Marilda, 1992. "Two-sided matching," Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, in: R.J. Aumann & S. Hart (ed.), Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 16, pages 485-541 Elsevier.
  4. Myerson, Roger B. & Satterthwaite, Mark A., 1983. "Efficient mechanisms for bilateral trading," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 265-281, April.
  5. Krishna, Vijay, 2003. "Asymmetric English auctions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 112(2), pages 261-288, October.
  6. 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.
  7. Peters, Michael & Severinov, Sergei, 1997. "Competition among Sellers Who Offer Auctions Instead of Prices," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 141-179, July.
  8. Peters, Michael, 1997. "A Competitive Distribution of Auctions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(1), pages 97-123, January.
  9. Vernon L. Smith, 1962. "An Experimental Study of Competitive Market Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 322.
  10. Wolinsky, Asher, 1988. "Dynamic Markets with Competitive Bidding," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(1), pages 71-84, January.
  11. Kelso, Alexander S, Jr & Crawford, Vincent P, 1982. "Job Matching, Coalition Formation, and Gross Substitutes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1483-1504, November.
  12. Herings, P.J.J., 1994. "A globally and universally stable price adjustment process," Discussion Paper 1994-52, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  13. Satterthwaite, Mark A & Williams, Steven R, 1989. "The Rate of Convergence to Efficiency in the Buyer's Bid Double Auction as the Market Becomes Large," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(4), pages 477-98, October.
  14. McAfee, R Preston, 1993. "Mechanism Design by Competing Sellers," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(6), pages 1281-1312, November.
  15. Gresik, Thomas A., 1991. "Ex ante incentive efficient trading mechanisms without the private valuation restriction," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 41-63, October.
  16. Arial Rubinstein & Asher Wolinsky, 1990. "Decentralized Trading, Strategic Behaviour and the Walrasian Outcome," Levine's Working Paper Archive 622, David K. Levine.
  17. Alvin E. Roth & Axel Ockenfels, 2000. "Last Minute Bidding and the Rules for Ending Second-Price Auctions: Theory and Evidence from a Natural Experiment on the Internet," NBER Working Papers 7729, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Leonard, Herman B, 1983. "Elicitation of Honest Preferences for the Assignment of Individuals to Positions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(3), pages 461-79, June.
  19. Paul R. Milgrom, 1985. "Auction Theory," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 779, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  20. Wilson, Robert B, 1985. "Incentive Efficiency of Double Auctions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(5), pages 1101-15, September.
  21. Gul, Faruk & Stacchetti, Ennio, 2000. "The English Auction with Differentiated Commodities," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 66-95, May.
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