In combinatorial auctions using VCG, a seller can sometimes increase revenue by dropping bidders. In this paper we investigate the extent to which this counter-intuitive phenomenon can also occur under other deterministic dominant-strategy combinatorial auction mechanisms. Our main result is that such failures of “revenue monotonicity” can occur under any such mechanism that is weakly maximal—meaning roughly that it chooses allocations that cannot be augmented to cause a losing bidder to win without hurting winning bidders—and that allows bidders to express arbitrary single-minded preferences. We also give a set of other impossibility results as corollaries, concerning revenue when the set of goods changes, false-name-proofness, and the core.
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