KeywordsAffiliated Private Values
Flexible Density Estimation
Optimal Reserve Price
Committee ChairHirano, Keisuke
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation develops Bayesian methods to analyze data from auctions and produce policy recommendations for auction design. The essay, "Auction Design Using Bayesian Methods," proposes a decision theoretic method to choose a reserve price in an auction using data from past auctions. Our method formally incorporates parameter uncertainty and the payoff structure into the decision procedure. When the sample size is modest, it produces higher expected revenue than the plug-in methods. Monte Carlo evidence for this is provided. The second essay, "Flexible Bayesian Analysis of First Price Auctions Using Simulated Likelihood," develops an empirical framework that fully exploits all the shape restrictions arising from economic theory: bidding monotonicity and density affiliation. We directly model the valuation density so that bidding monotonicity is automatically satisfied, and restrict the parameter space to rule out all the nonaffiliated densities. Our method uses a simulated likelihood to allow for a very exible specification, but the posterior analysis is exact for the chosen likelihood. Our method controls the smoothness and tail behavior of the valuation density and provides a decision theoretic framework for auction design. We reanalyze a dataset of auctions for drilling rights in the Outer Continental Shelf that has been widely used in past studies. Our approach gives significantly different policy prescriptions on the choice of reserve price than previous methods, suggesting the importance of the theoretical shape restrictions. Lastly, in the essay, "Simple Approximation Methods for Bayesian Auction Design," we propose simple approximation methods for Bayesian decision making in auction design problems. Asymptotic posterior distributions replace the true posteriors in the Bayesian decision framework, which are typically a Gaussian model (second price auction) or a shifted exponential model (first price auction). Our method first approximates the posterior payoff using the limiting models and then maximizes the approximate posterior payoff. Both the approximate and exact Bayes rules converge to the true revenue maximizing reserve price under certain conditions. Monte Carlo studies show that my method closely approximates the exact procedure even for fairly small samples.