Transacting the Elixir of Life
Chapter 9: Conclusion
It is not unique to our profession, but economists are drawn to anomalies. Anomalies are often in the eye of the beholder—not everyone has the same experience of normalcy and consistency—but we certainly appreciate hearing about them and they often turn into scholarship. The market for lemons is anomalous, and a number of stories in Freakonomics are anomalous. A section of one of our most accessible professional journals, the Journal of Economic Perspectives, has a section dedicated to anomalies—the site of one of the first appearances of Richard Thaler’s discussion of the winner’s curse. Many are initially drawn to an interest in wine in the usual way through social events with peers and elders that show a correlation between wine and interesting and rich experiences. They may decide that the correlation is not simply a result of narcosis: there is something special about wine. With the encouragement of some mentors, I pursued an interest in wine and began to notice some anomalies. For example, relative to any other menu item, wine is a significant part of the interior decoration of a surprising number of better restaurants in North America and Europe—and it has its own menu. Given all that they could choose to highlight about their restaurant, they highlight wine. Beer and spirits are not even close; meat and fish are probably a distant second.
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