Posts Tagged ‘international trade’

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.

Addendum (2019:09/30): This morning I returned to the aforementioned small issue in the history of economic thought, and discovered that in the time since I posted this entry Google Books came to provide what they call a snippet view of a scan of the first edition, which view was enough to answer my question. I wish that I'd had that answer when writing my paper on indecision; but at least I have it as I write my paper synthesizing a theory of decision-making in which preörderings both for preferences and for probabilities may be incomplete.


Thursday, 12 February 2009

I ordered a couple of harmonicas recently. I didn't and don't know the current location of the harmonica that I already had, and these were inexpensive. They arrived yester-day.

Anyway, one of them is an American Ace Harmonica. Really, they ought to give this thing a different name. There's nothing peculiarly American about its sound or operation; it's just an inexpensive but serviceable diatonic harmonica. (Which is all that I was seeking.) And Hohner has clearly printed the words made in China on the front label, right under The American Ace Harmonica, so the thing isn't even made in America. Calling it American doesn't do much beside persuading Canadians not to buy it, eh?

The other harmonica is a Kay Chicago Blues Harmonica, which I got for no better reason than that it had a clear Lucite comb, and that seemed like it would be cool. It too proves to be made in China. Perhaps the Chinese plan to attain a monopoly in the production of inexpensive harmonicas, and then some day pull the rug from under us, by suddenly embargoing them.