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Rational Participation Revolutionizes Auction Theory

Potential bidders respond to a seller's choice of auction mechanism for a common-value or affiliated-values asset by endogenous decisions whether to incur a participation cost (and observe a private signal), or forego competing. Privately informed participants decide whether to incur a bid-preparation cost and pay an entry fee, or cease competing. Auction rules and information flows are quite general; participation decisions may be simultaneous or sequential. The resulting revenue identity for any auction mechanism implies that optimal auctions are allocatively efficient; a nontrivial reserve price is revenue-inferior for any common-value auction. Optimal auctions are otherwise contentless: any auction that sells without reserve becomes optimal by adjusting any one of the continuous, spanning parameters, e.g., the entry fee. Seller.s surplus-extracting tools are now substitutes, not complements. Many econometric studies of auction markets are seen to be flawed in their identification of the number of bidders.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Missouri in its series Working Papers with number 0518.

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Length: 41 pgs.
Date of creation: 07 Dec 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:umc:wpaper:0518
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  1. Harstad, Ronald M. & Michael H. Rothkopf, 1995. "An "Alternating Recognition" Model of English Auctions," Discussion Paper Serie B 348, University of Bonn, Germany.
  2. Rothkopf, Michael H & Harstad, Ronald M, 1995. "Two Models of Bid-Taker Cheating in Vickrey Auctions," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 68(2), pages 257-67, April.
  3. Paul Milgrom & Robert J. Weber, 1981. "A Theory of Auctions and Competitive Bidding," Discussion Papers 447R, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  4. Chakraborty, Indranil & Kosmopoulou, Georgia, 2001. "Auctions with endogenous entry," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 195-200, August.
  5. Bikhchandani, Sushil & Riley, John G., 1991. "Equilibria in open common value auctions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 101-130, February.
  6. Samuelson, William F., 1985. "Competitive bidding with entry costs," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 17(1-2), pages 53-57.
  7. Ronald M. Harstad & Vlad Mares, 2005. "Ex-Post Full Surplus Extraction, Straightforwardly," Working Papers 0515, Department of Economics, University of Missouri.
  8. Paul R. Milgrom, 1978. "Rational Expectations," Discussion Papers 406, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  9. Maskin, Eric & Riley, John, 2000. "Equilibrium in Sealed High Bid Auctions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(3), pages 439-54, July.
  10. Paul Klemperer, 1999. "Auction Theory: A Guide to the Literature," Economics Series Working Papers 1999-W12, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  11. Mares, Vlad & Harstad, Ronald M., 2003. "Private information revelation in common-value auctions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 109(2), pages 264-282, April.
  12. McAfee, R. Preston & McMillan, John, 1987. "Auctions with entry," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 343-347.
  13. Matthews, Steven, 1987. "Comparing Auctions for Risk Averse Buyers: A Buyer's Point of View," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(3), pages 633-46, May.
  14. Michael H. Rothkopf & Ronald M. Harstad, 1994. "Modeling Competitive Bidding: A Critical Essay," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 40(3), pages 364-384, March.
  15. Harstad, Ronald M, 1990. "Alternative Common-Value Auction Procedures: Revenue Comparisons with Free Entry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(2), pages 421-29, April.
  16. McAfee, R Preston & Reny, Philip J, 1992. "Correlated Information and Mechanism Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(2), pages 395-421, March.
  17. Paul Klemperer, 2002. "What Really Matters in Auction Design," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(1), pages 169-189, Winter.
  18. Levin, Dan & Harstad, Ronald M., 1986. "Symmetric bidding in second-price, common-value auctions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 315-319.
  19. McAfee, R. Preston & McMillan, John, 1987. "Auctions with a stochastic number of bidders," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 1-19, October.
  20. Bulow, Jeremy & Klemperer, Paul, 1996. "Auctions versus Negotiations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 180-94, March.
  21. Cremer, Jacques & McLean, Richard P, 1985. "Optimal Selling Strategies under Uncertainty for a Discriminating Monopolist When Demands Are Interdependent," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(2), pages 345-61, March.
  22. French, Kenneth R & McCormick, Robert E, 1984. "Sealed Bids, Sunk Costs, and the Process of Competition," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 57(4), pages 417-41, October.
  23. Kagel, John H & Levin, Dan & Harstad, Ronald M, 1995. "Comparative Static Effects of Number of Bidders and Public Information on Behavior in Second-Price Common Value Auctions," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 293-319.
  24. Levin, Dan & Smith, James L, 1994. "Equilibrium in Auctions with Entry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 585-99, June.
  25. Cremer, Jacques & McLean, Richard P, 1988. "Full Extraction of the Surplus in Bayesian and Dominant Strategy Auctions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(6), pages 1247-57, November.
  26. Harstad, Ronald M. & Kagel, John H. & Levin, Dan, 1990. "Equilibrium bid functions for auctions with an uncertain number of bidders," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 35-40, May.
  27. Robert, Jacques, 1991. "Continuity in auction design," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 169-179, October.
  28. Roger B. Myerson, 1978. "Optimal Auction Design," Discussion Papers 362, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  29. McAfee, R Preston & McMillan, John & Reny, Philip J, 1989. "Extracting the Surplus in the Common-Value Auction," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(6), pages 1451-59, November.
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