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Demand reduction and inefficiency in multi-unit auctions


Ausubel, Lawrence M; Cramton, Peter; Pycia, Marek; Rostek, Marzena; Weretka, Marek (2014). Demand reduction and inefficiency in multi-unit auctions. Review of Economic Studies, 81(4):1366-1400.

Abstract

Auctions often involve the sale of many related goods: Treasury, spectrum, and electricity auctions are examples. In multi-unit auctions, bids for marginal units may affect payments for inframarginal units, giving rise to “demand reduction” and furthermore to incentives for shading bids differently across units. We establish that such differential bid shading results generically in ex post inefficient allocations in the uniform-price and pay-as-bid auctions. We also show that, in general, the efficiency and revenue rankings of the two formats are ambiguous. However, in settings with symmetric bidders, the pay-as-bid auction often outperforms. In particular, with diminishing marginal utility, symmetric information and linearity, it yields greater expected revenues. We explain the rankings through multi-unit effects, which have no counterparts in auctions with unit demands. We attribute the new incentives separately to multi-unit (but constant) marginal utility and to diminishing marginal utility. We also provide comparisons with the Vickrey auction.

Abstract

Auctions often involve the sale of many related goods: Treasury, spectrum, and electricity auctions are examples. In multi-unit auctions, bids for marginal units may affect payments for inframarginal units, giving rise to “demand reduction” and furthermore to incentives for shading bids differently across units. We establish that such differential bid shading results generically in ex post inefficient allocations in the uniform-price and pay-as-bid auctions. We also show that, in general, the efficiency and revenue rankings of the two formats are ambiguous. However, in settings with symmetric bidders, the pay-as-bid auction often outperforms. In particular, with diminishing marginal utility, symmetric information and linearity, it yields greater expected revenues. We explain the rankings through multi-unit effects, which have no counterparts in auctions with unit demands. We attribute the new incentives separately to multi-unit (but constant) marginal utility and to diminishing marginal utility. We also provide comparisons with the Vickrey auction.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Economics and Econometrics
Uncontrolled Keywords:Multi-unit auctions, demand reduction, treasury auctions, electricity auctions
Language:English
Date:October 2014
Deposited On:01 Jun 2018 12:52
Last Modified:31 Jul 2020 01:50
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:0034-6527
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/restud/rdu023

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