Determinants [Lecture notes] by Attila Máté

By Attila Máté

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Extra resources for Determinants [Lecture notes]

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Thus ever since the big shakeout, no new credit cards have joined the ranks of the majors; the barrier to market entry has proved to be too great. That said, in recent years the Internet revolution has opened the door to competition from wholly new directions—including new kinds of payment services, such as PayPal; an international network of automatic teller machines to challenge old standbys such as traveler’s checks; and maybe even new types of “virtual money” such as Bitcoin. As I write this in 2014, Apple has announced a new payment system on the latest iPhones, and we can reasonably expect that it and/or other new payment systems that make use of mobile devices will become commonplace.

Price alone didn’t clear the market, and participants cared whom they were dealing with; it was at least in part a matching market. Enter the Chicago Board of Trade, founded in 1848 and sitting at the terminus of all those boxcars full of grain arriving in Chicago from the farms of the Great Plains. The Chicago Board of Trade made wheat into a commodity by classifying it on the basis of its quality (number 1 being the best) and type (winter or spring, hard or soft, red or white). This meant that the railroads could mix wheat of the same grade and type instead of keeping each farmer’s crop segregated during shipping.

Money eases the need to find this “double coincidence”: with money in the market, it’s enough to find someone who has what you want. You can buy what you want from that person without having to find someone with whom you can trade goods. The difficulty that Mike Rees found when he tried to arrange his first exchange was precisely the one Jevons pointed to: no exchange could happen without a double coincidence. The question then became, how do you design a clearinghouse for kidney exchange that can function as an efficient marketplace, but without using money?

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