How to Auction an Essential Facility When Underhand Integration is Possible

22 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2002

See all articles by Eduardo M. R. A. Engel

Eduardo M. R. A. Engel

Yale University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Alexander Galetovic

Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez; Stanford University - The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace; University of Padua - CRIEP

Ronald D. Fischer

University of Chile - Center of Applied Economics (CEA)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 2002

Abstract

Regulating seaports is difficult in general, even more so for the weak regulatory institutions common in developing countries. For this reason some countries have awarded these facilities via Demsetz auctions, to the port operator that bids the lowest cargo-handling fee. A major concern with Demsetz auctions in this context, is that the winning operator may integrate with a shipper and monopolize the shipping market, by worsening the service quality for competing shippers. The standard policy recommendation against service quality discrimination is to ban the seaport from operating in the shipping market. The effectiveness of such prohibitions is suspect, however, because they can be circumvented by an (illegal) underhand agreement between the port operator and the shipper. In this paper we show that a ban on integration increases welfare if it is combined with a (sufficiently high) floor on the cargo-handling fee that operators can bid in the auction. In the absence of such a floor, however, a Demsetz auction is worse than no regulation at all of the bottleneck monopoly. Our results apply beyond the port and shipping markets, to any essential facility that can monopolize a downstream market. The results only require that profits with underhand vertical integration agreements be less than with legal vertical integration.

Keywords: Auctions, Ex Ante vs. Ex Post Rents, Demsetz Auctions, Hidden Action, Monopoly Regulation, Productive Efficiency, Vertical Integration

JEL Classification: D44, L12, L92

Suggested Citation

Engel, Eduardo M. and Galetovic, Alexander and Fischer, Ronald D., How to Auction an Essential Facility When Underhand Integration is Possible (February 2002). Cowles Foundation Discussion Paper No. 1353; Economic Growth Center Discussion Paper No. 839. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=299564

Eduardo M. Engel (Contact Author)

Yale University - Department of Economics ( email )

28 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06520-8268
United States
203-432-5595 (Phone)
203-432-5779 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Alexander Galetovic

Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez ( email )

Peñalolén
Santiago
Chile

Stanford University - The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-6010
United States

University of Padua - CRIEP ( email )

Padua
Italy

Ronald D. Fischer

University of Chile - Center of Applied Economics (CEA) ( email )

Republica 701
Casilla 2777
Santiago
Chile
+56/2/678 4055 (Phone)
+56/2/689 7895 (Fax)

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