Mid-auction information acquisition

An English auction is studied in which bidders can acquire information during the bidding process, allowing for heterogeneity both in ex-ante private information and the cost of information acquisition. The best response has a simple characterization where the optimal information acquisition time is unaffected by the other bidders’ strategies. We prove the existence of an equilibrium in a novel way by characterizing it as a fixed point in the space of bid distributions rather than the space of bid functions. Furthermore, we show that when bidders have homogeneous ex-ante private information about valuations: (1) The English auction generates more revenue than the Vickrey auction when the number of bidders is sufficiently large; and (2) the English auction is more efficient than the Vickrey auction when the information acquisition cost are relatively small. We present numerical simulations that show that these effects can be large. Our findings provide an additional explanation for the popularity of the English auction, even in settings where the bidders’ valuations are independent.

Economic Theory 2017

Leonardo Bandeira Rezende.

http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1007/s00199-017-1038-z