Theoretical Economics, Volume 15, Number 1 (January 2020)

Theoretical Economics 15 (2020), 361–413

Efficient multi-unit auctions for normal goods

Brian Baisa


I study multi-unit auction design when bidders have private values, multi-unit demands, and non-quasilinear preferences. Without quasilinearity, the Vickrey auction loses its desired incentive and efficiency properties. I give conditions under which we can design a mechanism that retains the Vickrey auction’s desirable incentive and efficiency properties: (1) individual rationality, (2) dominant strategy incentive compatibility, and (3) Pareto efficiency. I show that there is a mechanism that retains the desired properties of the Vickrey auction if there are two bidders who have single-dimensional types. I also present an impossibility theorem that shows that there is no mechanism that satisfies Vickrey’s desired properties and weak budget balance when bidders have multi-dimensional types.

Keywords: Multi-unit auctions, multi-dimensional mechanism design, wealth effects

JEL classification: D44, D47, D61, D82

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