Tag Archives: Economics

Terrible moments in book cover design.

What is going on here?  In this designers fevered imagination, which seems to be modelled on some sick crossover between The Wind in the Willows and Wall Street, the order of the natural world is such that Sciurus carolinensi (top left) and Oryctolagus cuniculus (bottom right) have decided that their optimal survival behaviour is to hoard each other’s food.

WHY?  Why would they do this?  Can you even imagine what a massive pain in the ass it would be for a squirrel to haul around a load of carrots?  Where the fuck is (s)he going to keep them?

The only economic logic to this would be if it took less energy for a squirrel to accumulate a quantity of carrots to be exchanged with the rabbit for a quantity of acorns greater than those that could have been accumulated through equivalent energy expenditure by the same squirrel.

Are carrots that valuable?

Have you ever seen a rabbit with an acorn?


Of course you haven’t.  Because rabbits don’t go around collecting acorns.  Their (adorable) little paws are singularly unsuited to collecting acorns.

Would rabbits get into the acorn trading game? Carrots typically take just over a month to flower, which means they’re available pretty much all year round.  Acorns fall from trees between September and November.

Acorns are scarcer than carrots.

Now, last time I checked, rabbits can’t climb trees.  Well, certainly not OAK TREES.  So that’s a three month window to accumulate something it doesn’t need in order to trade it for something it does, but which is available anyway.

Which again, begs the question, why would the squirrel (who CAN climb trees and access acorns earlier and easier) waste valuable time accumulating carrots to hoard (in a flooded marketplace) and exchange with a trading partner who’d presumably have the same access to carrots year-round anyway? For that matter, given that squirrels can climb trees, how would a rabbit manage to get hold of acorns in the first place?

So what is happening here?

The squirrel is clearly economically illiterate and highly likely to either starve to death or be eaten by a financially cannier predator.

The rabbit has a clear advantage (holding something scarce).  But why it would even consider hoarding the acorns makes no sense.  Unless it’s out of spite.

Are rabbits spiteful?

This remains to be seen.

Can you give a flavour of some of the key principles behind derivatives, securities and risk management using anthropomorphic representations of animals bartering their respective stereotypical foodstuffs?

You can, but it demonstrates a very limited understanding of woodland ecology, supply and demand, scarcity and access costs.

And it makes some very dubious assumptions about both the intelligence of squirrels and the psychological motivations of rabbits in economic transactions.





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