Friday, July 18, 2014

Pez Romana - the value of markets

Way back in the time of the dinosaurs, my parents had a problem. My brother and I had birthdays fairly close to each other and always wanted to play with the other guy's toys. The solution they came up with was to give me a present on his birthday and him a present on my birthday. This at least reduced the sibling rivalry. We instituted this too, once Econolad was old enough to need it.

This year I was super sneaky. Econolad and I had just started watching Star Wars for the first time and he likes C3P0. I got him a Threepio Pez dispenser, recognizing that he might not like the candy (which he doesn't much).

I explained to him that  this was a useful present. His sister, you see, not only loves all things edible, but the #1 way she shows she loves someone is to share her food or ask you to share your food. I told Econolad he could offer to share one of his Pez candies if she would share a toy with him.

The best is that it works. She is willing to trade some, but not all, of her toys and has the ability to say no if his deal isn't good enough. They each feel loved from each other and are happier with the transactions than otherwise. Prices have tended to stay at one candy for renting a beloved toy for 2 hours, but she has sometimes held out for better terms of payment (now vs. later) or rental length.

The other best part is ... markets are great! As an economist I am very geekily happy every time they bargain and see that creating a market has restored peace to our home. 

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