“Seinfeld” famously referred to itself as a show about nothing, but a recent podcast from Bloomberg floated the idea that there are certain valuable economic lessons to be learned from one of the most popular shows of all time.
Alan Grant, an Associate Professor of Economics at Baker University, is the founder of a blog “The Economics of Seinfeld,” which chronicles the legendary show and the economic lessons each show imparts.
For example, in the episode “The Bottle Deposit,” Newman and Kramer notice that collecting cans and taking them to Michigan may be profitable due to the higher CRV value in the state. They try to make it work financially, but gas is too expensive (variable costs) and there’s too much overhead (fixed costs, incentives, arbitrage).
In “The Contest,” the characters try to abstain from an unnamed activity the longest. This episode highlights cost benefit analysis and rate time of preference concepts, which “pertains to how large a premium a consumer places on enjoyment nearer in time over remote enjoyment.” In this case, George won (even though he admitted to cheating).
“The Rye” shows Jerry desperately trying to buy a marble rye (Willingness to buy) from an old lady who wouldn’t give it up (willingness to sell). Jerry ends up stealing the bread from the woman.
While referring to itself as a show about nothing, “Seinfeld” was a show about life, and ultimately there would be some valuable lessons to be learned from watching the iconic series.
To check out the full “Economics of Seinfeld” index, visit yadayadayadaecon.com.
Image: Steve Harris, Flickr
Original publication: August 29, 2016
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