May 30, 2022, 14:15–15:30
Room Auditorium 4
Industrial Organization seminar
This paper explores the extent to which information design can increase the auctioneer’s revenue in the US offshore oil/gas lease auctions. In our setting, firms first submit cash bids in a first-price sealed-bid auction; the winning firm then decides whether to explore a tract, and the government receives a royalty payment on the production value of the tract. We first document that when all the bids are revealed to the winning bidder after the auction, the exploration rate is positively correlated with the losing bids, suggesting that the winning bidder utilizes the rivals’ bids to infer their private information on the tract’s production value. We then characterize the equilibrium bidding strategy in an environment in which the auctioneer can design and commit to how to reveal information on the losing bids to the winning bidder. Our counterfactual exercises show that information design can significantly improve the auctioneer’s revenue. For example, fully withholding information on the losing bids results in an increase in the per-tract profit of between $204K and $901K.