Economics Games

Noughts and Crosses

A reply to “What’s the best hack/edit to make the boring Tic-Tac-Toe game more interesting?” on Quora:

  1. Each player starts off with 100 chips.
  2. Each turn (including the first), the players submit a silent bid for how many chips they are willing to spend for the right to make a move.
  3. The bids are revealed and the player who made the highest bid pays that amount of chips to the other player and then makes his play.
  4. Repeat every turn until the conclusion of the game.

This is brilliant (and, I imagine, not a game for the AP prone). A high bid can buy you the coveted centre space but now your opponent has a bidding advantage over you, at any given point how much is a given space, or even the opportunity to play a turn actually worth?

Modern board game design is ace.

Edit: Another reply mentions another version I’ve seen before and liked. Each square on the grid contains its own gave of noughts and crosses, winning that game wins you the square on the parent board. The twist is the mini-board on which you must play is determined by the square last played by your opponent. e.g. They place a O in the top left square of whichever micro-grid they’re playing on so you must play on the micro-grid in the top left square of the parent board.

Economics Politics


A handy primer on what’s going on in Greece.


Dolphin economics

In response to a question at Marginal Revolution about potential alien economies:

I can imagine a dolphin-like civilization which lacks money.  Dolphins seem to have relatively few goods of value, yet they are highly intelligent and have well-developed emotional lives, or at least they could be so even if you are for some reason skeptical about current-day dolphins.

Current dolphin goods seem to be food, sex, kids, and conversation, with a fairly tight PPF.  They don’t buy lampshades.  Most of “dolphin economic growth” seems to come from finding more and better food, getting more and better sex, finding safer environments for the children, and learning to enjoy other dolphins more.  It’s hard to store dolphin goods and thus it is hard for the Mengerian origin of money story to get underway.

Also covered are bird-like and bee-like economies.

Comics Economics


Henceforth there will be three kinds of money: Money got evilly, money got goodly, and money got in a morally neutral manner! Evil money can only be used to buy evil things, good money to buy good things, and neutral money to buy everything else.


SMBC on the money as usual, the last panel will raise a smile, but really it should make you despair at the world we live in.

Economics People

Buying happiness

…a rich person getting even richer experiences zero gain in happiness. That’s not all that surprising; it’s what Norton asked next that led to an interesting insight. He asked these rich people how happy they were at any given moment. Then he asked them how much money they would need to be even happier.

“All of them said they needed two to three times more than they had to feel happier,” says Norton. The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that money, above a certain modest sum, does not have the power to buy happiness, and yet even very rich people continue to believe that it does: the happiness will come from the money they don’t yet have.

To the general rule that money, above a certain low level, cannot buy happiness there is one exception. “While spending money upon oneself does nothing for one’s happiness,” says Norton, “spending it on others increases happiness.

The full article is worth a read, there’s interesting stuff about the effect of wealth on empathy and the inclination to cheat and steal. I would’ve assumed they were cause rather then effect but it may be more circular than that.

There are other good tidbits and observations: the effect wealth can (or can’t) have on politics, the difficulties of philanthopy, a favourite has to be:

The American upper middle class has spent a fortune teaching its children to play soccer: how many great soccer players come from the upper middle class?

That final line of the blockquote above is the most important though: spending money on others increases happiness. I am certainly nowhere near the wealth status of the participants of these studies but little makes me happier than giving. You have to give. Make sure you can eat, you’re housed and clothed and all that but then give things away: your time, your expertise, whatever. If I’m feeling down my quickfix method to cheering myself up is to bake a batch of something and give to everyone I work with. It doesn’t have to be material wealth, giving just makes you happier.

(via kottke)


I chose… poorly

In 2001, a PowerBook G4 would have set you back $3500. Suppose instead that you had purchased $3500 in Apple stock instead of the computer…that stock would now be worth about $110,000. Even an original iPod’s worth in AAPL ($399) would be worth almost $12,000 today.

OK, so I bought my Powerbook in 2004 but even so that would work out to around £30k.

(via kottke)