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What Really Matters in Auction Design

  • Professor Paul Klemperer

    (Nuffield College, University of Oxford)

The most important issues in auction design are the traditional concerns of competition policy-preventing collusive, predatory, and entry deterring behaviour. Ascending and uniform-price auctions are particularly vulnerable to these problems (we discuss radiospectrum and football TV-rights auctions, electricity markets, and takeover battles), and the Anglo-Dutch auction-a hybrid of the sealed-bid and ascending auctions-may often perform better. However, everything depends on the details of the context; the circumstances of the U.K. mobile-phone license auction made an ascending format ideal. Auction design is a matter of "horses for courses", not "one size fits all".

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Microeconomics with number 0004008.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: 21 Jul 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpmi:0004008
Note: Type of Document - Acrobat pdf; prepared on PC; to print on HP; pages: 20; figures: included
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  1. Bulow, Jeremy & Geanakoplos, John & Klemperer, Paul, 1985. "Holding Idle Capacity to Deter Entry [The Role of Investment in Entry Deterrence]," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 95(377), pages 178-82, March.
  2. Paul Klemperer, 2001. "How (Not) to Run Auctions: the European 3G Telecom Auctions," Economics Papers 2002-W5, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford, revised 01 Nov 2001.
  3. Klemperer, Paul, 1998. "Auctions with almost common values: The 'Wallet Game' and its applications," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 757-769, May.
  4. John McMillan, 1994. "Selling Spectrum Rights," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(3), pages 145-162, Summer.
  5. R. Preston McAfee & John McMillan, 1996. "Analyzing the Airwaves Auction," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 159-175, Winter.
  6. Donald A. Walker (ed.), 2000. "Equilibrium," Books, Edward Elgar, volume 0, number 1585, April.
  7. Sandro Brusco & Giuseppe Lopomo, 1999. "Collusion via Signalling in Open Ascending Auctions with Multiple Objects and Complementarities," Working Papers 99-05, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  8. Paul Klemperer, 2000. "Why Every Economist Should Learn some Auction Theory," Economics Series Working Papers 2000-W25, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  9. Grimm, Veronika & Riedel, Frank & Wolfstetter, Elmar, 2001. "Low price equilibrium in multi-unit auctions: The GSM spectrum auction in Germany," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 2001,31, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
  10. S. Baranzoni & P. Bianchi & L. Lambertini, 2000. "Market Structure," Working Papers 368, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  11. Bulow, Jeremy I. & Huang, Ming & Klemperer, Paul, 1996. "Toeholds and Takeovers," CEPR Discussion Papers 1486, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Martin Feldstein, 1995. "Tax Avoidance and the Deadweight Loss of the Income Tax," NBER Working Papers 5055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Bulow, Jeremy I & Geanakoplos, John D & Klemperer, Paul D, 1985. "Multimarket Oligopoly: Strategic Substitutes and Complements," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(3), pages 488-511, June.
  14. Paul R. Milgrom, 1985. "Auction Theory," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 779, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  15. Myerson, Roger B. & Satterthwaite, Mark A., 1983. "Efficient mechanisms for bilateral trading," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 265-281, April.
  16. Salant, David, 2000. "Auctions and Regulation: Reengineering of Regulatory Mechanisms," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 195-204, May.
  17. Bikhchandani, Sushil, 1988. "Reputation in repeated second-price auctions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 97-119, October.
  18. Peter Cramton & Jesse Schwartz, 2000. "Collusive Bidding in the FCC Spectrum Auctions," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1210, Econometric Society.
  19. Heidrun C. Hoppe & Philippe Jehiel & Benny Moldovanu, 2006. "License Auctions and Market Structure," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(2), pages 371-396, 06.
  20. William Vickrey, 1961. "Counterspeculation, Auctions, And Competitive Sealed Tenders," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 16(1), pages 8-37, 03.
  21. Klemperer, Paul, 1999. " Auction Theory: A Guide to the Literature," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(3), pages 227-86, July.
  22. Catherine D. Wolfram, 1999. "Measuring Duopoly Power in the British Electricity Spot Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 805-826, September.
  23. Menezes, Flavio M., 1996. "Multiple-unit English auctions," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 671-684, December.
  24. David M. Newbery, 1998. "Competition, Contracts, and Entry in the Electricity Spot Market," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 29(4), pages 726-749, Winter.
  25. 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.
  26. Catherine D. Wolfram, 1998. "Strategic Bidding in a Multiunit Auction: An Empirical Analysis of Bids to Supply Electricity in England and Wales," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 29(4), pages 703-725, Winter.
  27. Paul Klemperer, 2002. "What Really Matters in Auction Design," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(1), pages 169-189, Winter.
  28. Cramton, Peter & Schwartz, Jesse A, 2000. "Collusive Bidding: Lessons from the FCC Spectrum Auctions," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 229-52, May.
  29. 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.
  30. Ballard, Charles L & Shoven, John B & Whalley, John, 1985. "General Equilibrium Computations of the Marginal Welfare Costs of Taxes in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 128-38, March.
  31. Nicola Persico, 2000. "Information Acquisition in Auctions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(1), pages 135-148, January.
  32. Federico, Giulio & Rahman, David, 2003. "Bidding in an Electricity Pay-as-Bid Auction," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 24(2), pages 175-211, September.
  33. 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.
  34. Klemperer, Paul D & Meyer, Margaret A, 1989. "Supply Function Equilibria in Oligopoly under Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(6), pages 1243-77, November.
  35. Peter Cramton & Robert Gibbons & Paul Klemperer, 1985. "Dissolving a Partnership Efficiently," Working papers 406, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  36. Milgrom, Paul R & Weber, Robert J, 1982. "A Theory of Auctions and Competitive Bidding," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1089-1122, September.
  37. Hansen, Robert G, 1986. "Sealed-Bid versus Open Auctions: The Evidence," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 24(1), pages 125-42, January.
  38. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:107:y:1992:i:2:p:681-707 is not listed on IDEAS
  39. Paul Klemperer, 2000. "Applying Auction Theory to Economics," Economics Series Working Papers 1, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  40. Nyborg, Kjell G. & Sundaresan, Suresh, 1996. "Discriminatory versus uniform Treasury auctions: Evidence from when-issued transactions," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 63-104, September.
  41. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:93:y:1979:i:4:p:675-89 is not listed on IDEAS
  42. Nils-Henrik von der Fehr & David Harbord, 2002. "Competition in Electricity Spot Markets: Economic Theory and International Experience," Industrial Organization 0203006, EconWPA.
  43. Paul Klemperer (ed.), 2000. "The Economic Theory of Auctions," Books, Edward Elgar, volume 0, number 1669, April.
  44. Bulow, Jeremy & Klemperer, Paul, 1996. "Auctions versus Negotiations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 180-94, March.
  45. Richard Engelbrecht-Wiggans & Charles M. Kahn, 2005. "Low-Revenue Equilibria in Simultaneous Ascending-Bid Auctions," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 51(3), pages 508-518, March.
  46. Kenneth Hendricks & Robert Porter, 1989. "Collusion in Auctions," Discussion Papers 817, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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