Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tales from the Mancgere

Claims of skullduggery leveled at market makers come quick to the lips of the pedestrian economist. Such claims are usually grossly mistaken, but every now and again evidence seems to suggest that the secondary market as she is arranged, works poorly.

Here is a story about Christos Kamenides, a Greek professor (un)fed up with non-euvoluntary markups by gadabout wholesalers that he just up and sidestepped the production chain. Tired of excessive markups at the grocer's, he arranged a direct-to-the-consumer market between Greek farmers and shoppers. Farmers, for their part, get paid fairly and immediately--rather than waiting as long as a full calendar year for payments that for all they know might not ever arrive at all (it's fine for foreigners to mull about the ramifications of possible Greek default from our cozy offices, but a much different story for folks who have to live with the Sword of Papademos hanging o'er their head).

Without knowing more about the intricacies of the Greek agriculture market, I can only share my suspicion that the Southern European penchant for interventionism has managed to leak into the production, transportation and sale of food. If a wholesaler can leave farmers in arrears for over a year, that seems to be a rather dreadful failure of either the business model, the regulatory environment or the futures market. I won't bore you with a rehash of criticisms of the locavore movement here, but I will mention that this effort to bypass the middleman does not fall afoul of many of the fallacies of mood affiliation that plague most declarations of local farmer solidarity. Here we have a failed market and a low-cost alternative that (for the moment, anyway) effectively skirts a dysfunctional distribution system. It is a nice little flowering of euvoluntary exchange in a swamp of debt crisis* and central planner meddling.

Simply beautiful.

*(Author's note: it's not my first choice to refer to the problems in Greece as a "debt crisis", as by my reckoning they have a "government problem", but young lass, alas and alack, I lack the clout to rebrand the bee date, let alone the debate)

1 comment:

  1. Heh heh. Heh. He said, "Sword of Papademos."


Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?