Monday, May 18, 2009

Greed is Self-Policing?

An argument made by George Will at the Washington Post:

Greed is worse than a moral defect; it is a cause of foolish pricing. That is why markets know it when they see it. And when markets are allowed to operate, greed generates its own punishment.
The argument George Will makes is considering what happens in auction environments for tickets / scalping - ie a good that has a fixed life. Priced above what consumers are willing to pay for too long, scalpers are often left with no value - or dramatically lower returns.

Personally, I'm of the view that greed isn't an especially bad attribute in entrepreneurs. Ideally, motivations extend beyond simple thirst for profits but I don't think that this is necessary for society's needs to be met and value to be created. This being said, I'm not sure this is a case of being greedy as it is of simple mispricing. While overpricing may be in part the result of greed, it's also obviously the result of stupidity given that the rational greed person will ensure that they don't price too high in the future and maximize returns.

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