Title

Three essays on auction markets

Date of Completion

January 2008

Keywords

Economics, General|Economics, Theory|Energy

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

This dissertation contains a series of theoretical investigations of auction markets. The essays it contains cover wholesale electricity markets, a popular selling mechanism on eBay, and supplier entry into multi-unit procurement auctions. The study in Chapter 1 compares the procurement cost-minimizing and productive efficiency performance of the auction mechanism used by independent system operators in wholesale electricity auction markets in the U.S. with that of a proposed alternative. The current practice allocates energy contracts as if the auction featured a discriminatory final payment method when, in fact, the markets are uniform price auctions. The proposed alternative explicitly accounts for the market-clearing price during the allocation phase. We find that the proposed alternative largely outperforms the current practice on the basis of procurement costs in the context of simple auction markets featuring both day-ahead and real-time auctions and that the procurement cost advantage of the alternative is complete when we simulate the effects of increased competition. We also find that a tradeoff between the objectives of procurement cost minimization and productive efficiency emerges in our simple auction markets and persists in the face of increased competition. ^ The study in Chapter 2 considers a possible rationale for an auction with a buy price. In an auction with a buy price, the seller provides bidders with an option to end the auction early by accepting a transaction at a posted price. The "Buy-It-Now" option on eBay is a leading example of an auction with a buy price. The study develops a model of an auction with a buy price in which bidders use the auction's reserve price and buy price to formulate a reference price. The model both explains why a revenue-maximizing seller would want to augment her auction with a buy price and demonstrates that the seller sets a higher reserve price when she can affect the bidders' reference price through the auction's reserve price and buy price than when she can affect the bidders' reference price through the auction's reserve price only. Introducing a small reference-price effect can shrink the range of buy prices bidders are willing to exercise. The comparative statics properties of bidding behavior are in sharp contrast to equilibrium behavior in other models where the existence and size of the auction's buy price have no effect on bidding behavior. ^ The study in Chapter 3 investigates endogenous entry in multi-unit auctions. We formulate and study models of multi-unit discriminatory and uniform price auctions and investigate the entry incentives and procurement costs they generate in equilibrium. We study two types of endogenous entry: in auctions with "interim entry costs," suppliers know their private cost information before deciding whether or not to undertake entry; in auctions with ex ante entry costs, suppliers do not know their private cost information before deciding whether or not to enter. The discriminatory and uniform price auctions are efficient and procurement cost equivalent in all the environments we study. With interim entry costs, the two auctions provide identical entry incentives. In contrast, with ex ante entry costs, suppliers enter the discriminatory auction at a higher rate than they enter the uniform price auction. ^