Archives for auction



How to Auction Off an Unwanted Duty

A high-school economics teacher named Steve Fortna writes from Colorado with a clever solution:

The Spirit Week (formerly known as Homecoming) Dance is upon us.  This Friday I will be pressed into service to monitor the dress and dance of around 150 kids while a DJ, who does not care about the moral development of young adults in their formative years, plays whatever music they want to hear.  Loudly.  I really do not want to be there.  I am not alone in that sentiment.  

My school has tried various methods of determining which teachers should be on chaperone duty at each dance over the years without much success.  Either we all go (way too many people but at least we’re all in the same boat), or only a select few (more efficient use of faculty, but it’s not fair).  While most teachers don’t particularly enjoy monitoring dances, there are different levels of unease.  What’s an equitable way to determine who’s on duty?

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The Candy Auction

As I do each year, I auctioned off candy (this year Reese’s peanut butter cups) to my class.  None were bought at a price above $0.50, all 23 were sold at that price. As usual, a nice illustration of downward-sloping demand curves.  I had kept one piece at the start, extolling its taste while eating half of it (and thus presumably causing an increase in demand).  The other half fell off my lectern, and I stepped in it after returning to the front of the room.  The first half piece of candy was really tasty, and I was dying for another one.  

What to do? Read More »



Peter Cramton: Medicare Auction Gadfly

My friend and co-author Peter Cramton continues his two-year crusade to improve the workings of “Medicare’s Bizarre Auction Program.”  You can watch his YouTube testimony before the United States House Committee on Small Business here.

(See also his Oral TestimonyTranscript of HearingVideo of Entire Hearing.)

Peter’s supplemental comments are particularly devastating in rebutting two claims of Lawrence Wilson, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Director of the Chronic Care Group:

CMS [claim]: “CMS worked closely with stakeholders to design and implement the program.”

Mr. Wilson. “CMS worked closely with stakeholders to design and implement the program in a way that is fair for suppliers and sensitive to the needs of beneficiaries.”

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Should We Auction Off Our Twitter Allegiance?

As @VikingPlastics (a “global supplier of engineered sealing solutions” in Corry, Pa.) correctly notes, @freakonomics has a lot of followers but we do not follow anyone. In fact, we made a podcast about this. We briefly followed Marketplace‘s Kai Ryssdal, but have returned to our anti-social ways.

So Viking has made us a cash offer to follow it: Read More »



Did Yankees Fan Really Get Hosed in Deal for Jeter Homerun Ball?

A lot of people are saying that Christian Lopez, the guy who caught Derek Jeter‘s 3,000-hit homerun ball, got hosed by the Yankees when he gave it back in return for some signed memorabilia and Yankees tickets worth an estimated $70,000. According to a Bloomberg article, the ball’s estimated value could be as high as $250,000. So the knee-jerk reaction of a lot of headlines was to assume that Lopez left $180,000 on the table, even though last month, Bloomberg reported a much more conservative estimate of between $75,000 and $100,000 for Jeter’s 3,000-hit ball. I’m not saying it couldn’t go for $250,000, but assuming it’s a given seems presumptive. Read More »



Wife Sales: “An Efficiency-Enhancing Institutional Response”

Peter Leeson, Peter Boettke, and Jayme Lemke, all of George Mason University, have issued a new paper called “Wife Sales” (abstract here; PDF here):

For over a century English husbands sold their wives at public auctions. We argue that wife sales were indirect Coasean divorce bargains that permitted wives to buy the right to exit marriage from their husbands in a legal environment that denied them the property rights required to buy that right directly. Wife-sale auctions identified “suitors” – men who valued unhappy wives more than their current husbands, who unhappy wives valued more than their current husbands, and who had the property rights required to buy unhappy wives’ right to exit marriage from their husbands. These suitors enabled spouses in inefficient marriages to dissolve their marriages where direct Coasean divorce bargains between them were impossible. Wife sales were an efficiency-enhancing institutional response to the unusual constellation of property rights that Industrial Revolution-era English law created. They made husbands, suitors, and wives better off.

(HT: Tomas Simon)