Posts Tagged ‘exchange rates’

Comparison Shopping for the Unaffordable

Friday, 1 April 2011

To address a small issue in the history of economic thought, I wanted to consult a copy of the first edition of The Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, by John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern. I didn't find it reliably quoted on-line, nor did I find it listed in the on-line library catalogue for USD nor in that for UCSD. So I thought that perhaps I'd buy a copy.

I consulted the Used and Out-of-Print listings of AddAll, and quickly concluded that, no, perhaps I won't buy a copy. [detail of screen-capture, showing price of $4959.29] The lowest price that I found was four thousand, nine hundred and fifty-nine dollars, and twenty-nine cents.

I'm not sure who would pay that much, but the next lowest seller wants seven thousand, five hundred and ninety-one dollars, and ninety-three cents.

Another remarkable thing is the range of prices being asked for just that next seller. [detail of screen-capture, showing range of prices] Through and through, the price would be that $7591.93. From that same seller, but through Find-a-Book (listed by AddAll as, the price would be $7614.96. And through AbeBooks (whom I encourage you to avoid in any case), the book would be $7867.54, still from that same seller. There's a $275.61 range here, determined by which intermediate service one uses.

Now, even as I was writing this entry, some of these prices were changing; that's because the seller is based in London, and the exchange rate has been in flux. And that suggests that part of the price range may be explained by different methods being used to calculate a rate of exchange. $275.61 may not seem a trivial sum, but it's only about 3.63% of $7591.93.

A buck or a pound / A buck or a pound

Monday, 27 October 2008

As European politicians and pundits tut-tut over the ostensible relative deficiencies of American economic policy, pay attention to what is happening to exchange rates.

By itself, the absolute level of exchange rates isn't particularly meaningful — that's really just a matter of scaling. but movements of exchange rates are significant. When the value of one currency is dropping relative to that of another, it means that people are trying to shift holdings in the former to holdings in the latter.

These days, the dollar is generally strengthening with respect to the pound and with respect to the euro, which means that people are trying to increase their share of currency that buys stuff in America relative to their share of currency that buys stuff in Europe.

That doesn't mean that economic conditions in America aren't bad, but it strongly argues that conditions in Europe are worse.