Auctions with Limited Commitment

Auctions with Limited Commitment

By
Qingmin Liu, Konrad Mierendorff, Xianwen Shi,
American Economic Review. March
2019, Vol. 109, Issue 3, Pages 876-910

We study the role of limited commitment in a standard auction environment. In each period, the seller can commit to an auction with a reserve price but not to future reserve prices. We characterize the set of equilibrium profits attainable for the seller as the period length vanishes. An immediate sale by efficient auction is optimal when there are at least three buyers. For many natural distributions two buyers is enough. Otherwise, we give conditions under which the maximal profit is attained through continuously declining reserve prices.