Ebay Charity auction update

Tim Harford has generously chosen to donate to charity the proceeds from the Ebay auction of the first copy of Freakonomics I ever signed. He was even kind enough to let me pick the charity, SmileTrain.

I don’t think he ever dreamed it would go for what the current bid is on Ebay. My best guess would have been one zero short of what it actually is.

Whatever the final price is, I’ll match Tim’s donation to Smile Train with one of my own.

Have a good Thanksgiving everyone. And don’t forget to bet the two home underdogs today in NFL football.


csilvey

Steven, don't forget that Tim has adde3d value (which is , of course, in the eye of the beholder) by adding a signed copy of his new book in the auction. Cool

3612

What's to be thankful for today? That we have a couple of economists willing to demonstrate the value of scarcity right before our eyes,and link it to good works (with a soupcon of subtle and innovative book promotion by Mr. Harford)

mike529

Technically shouldn't you no longer have the advantage once the market has caught on to this advantage.

mhertz

Aww, Steve, you were wrong with both predictions!

gwagner

This auction seems like a win-win: Tim Harford gets to promote his fascinating new book and Smile Train benefits from the donation -- now even more so that Steve said he would match the donation.

There's one thing, though, that I have never understood about matching donation offers. Why wouldn't Smile Train use its own money to buy the book off ebay? Aside from some questions worthy of the Ethicist, they could double their money in a week and get a couple books out of the deal. (Perhaps they may want to donate the books anonymously afterwards...)

Stephen J. Dubner

Gwagner,

Great point about Smile Train buying
the book off Ebay! Let's hope they
don't read the blog comments.

GamblingEconomist

It actually wouldn't be in Smile Train's best interest to buy the book off of EBAY. If they did, they would only get one donation (Levitt's) rather than two donations (Levitt's and Harford's). While Levitt's donation would be somewhat higher if Smile Train bought the book (the difference in the but-for winner's maximum bid and the but-for second place maximum bid, plus whatever the minimum incremental bid margin) it likely wouldn't be double. While they would have the books, presumably they would not be able to get similar value the second time around because the first auction price is inflated due to it being for charity, having matching funds behind it, and being publicized on the Freakonomics blog.

GamblingEconomist

I guess theoretically Smile Train could have multiple bidders "competing" against each other to raise the price above double what non-Smile Train bidders would bid.

ch3ch2oh

i'd assume most people have some upper limit to what sort of donation they're willing to match, even if it's unstated. if someone went and drove the price of the auction up to $5000 or some ridiculous number like that, maybe levitt wouldn't match the whole price, or maybe he'd match it and compensate by donating less later, assuming that he donates to the charity regularly. if i'm correct in assuming that he has an upper limit to what he's willing to match, then the charity wouldn't make as much money if they buy the book for over half levitt's upper bound and the auction would have reached that point without any intervention. like if levitt's match point is x, and the bidding is already above .5x, then any sort of intervention on the part of the charity would lessen their gain. i guess they could get into a bidding war with one of the normal folks and drive up the price without buying the book, but then you'd have to have a pretty good feel for what your mark is willing to pay.

Read more...

GamblingEconomist

I made two posts yesterday on this thread but they did not show up. Were my posts rejected or was there some sort of glitch in the system?

Thomas

Why would anyone enter a timed auction well before the time has expired?

I suppose there is some convenience to bidding immediately, rather than coming back to the auction in the future, but with the ease of bookmarking online auctions, I can't imagine the convenience is incredibly weighty.

Meanwhile, if you wait, you deprive the rest of the market of the knowledge of your high bid, doesn't that give you an advantage in the auction?

(Never studied any theory of auctions, sorry if this is hopelessly naive.)

mike529

With Ebay the market doesn't know how high you'll go. Your max price is hidden and you raise just above the previous bid until it goes above your max.

unroyal

A Smile Worth.

csilvey

Steven, don't forget that Tim has adde3d value (which is , of course, in the eye of the beholder) by adding a signed copy of his new book in the auction. Cool

3612

What's to be thankful for today? That we have a couple of economists willing to demonstrate the value of scarcity right before our eyes,and link it to good works (with a soupcon of subtle and innovative book promotion by Mr. Harford)

mike529

Technically shouldn't you no longer have the advantage once the market has caught on to this advantage.

mhertz

Aww, Steve, you were wrong with both predictions!

gwagner

This auction seems like a win-win: Tim Harford gets to promote his fascinating new book and Smile Train benefits from the donation -- now even more so that Steve said he would match the donation.

There's one thing, though, that I have never understood about matching donation offers. Why wouldn't Smile Train use its own money to buy the book off ebay? Aside from some questions worthy of the Ethicist, they could double their money in a week and get a couple books out of the deal. (Perhaps they may want to donate the books anonymously afterwards...)

Stephen J. Dubner

Gwagner,

Great point about Smile Train buying
the book off Ebay! Let's hope they
don't read the blog comments.

GamblingEconomist

It actually wouldn't be in Smile Train's best interest to buy the book off of EBAY. If they did, they would only get one donation (Levitt's) rather than two donations (Levitt's and Harford's). While Levitt's donation would be somewhat higher if Smile Train bought the book (the difference in the but-for winner's maximum bid and the but-for second place maximum bid, plus whatever the minimum incremental bid margin) it likely wouldn't be double. While they would have the books, presumably they would not be able to get similar value the second time around because the first auction price is inflated due to it being for charity, having matching funds behind it, and being publicized on the Freakonomics blog.