GAME THEORIES/FUN WITH ECONOMICS

PRISONER’S DILEMMA- occurs when two completely rational individuals fail to cooperate even if it would seem that cooperating would lead to favourable outcome for both. ie when two prisoners are in jail and asked to betray each other. Betraying each other would make each of them worse off, remaining silent would make each of them better of.  However, since they do not know how the other party will react, they are most likely to try and betray the other person and end up being worse off: longer jail time.

lesson: in market economics, cooperation is sometimes better than non-cooperation. If one party protects themselves at the expense of another party, there is greater chance of greater losses if the other party also makes a decision. 

RACE TO THE BOTTOM- government undertakes measures to deregulate the business environment through measures such as tax cuts in order to retain economic activity by attracting investments in a certain region. The consequence, if not well monitored could be poor standards. In corporations, happens when competitors attempt to undercut the other by lowering standards such as safety standards in order to make a product more affordable. It is referred to as race to the bottom  because it could be destructive/unethical since some of the safety/product specifications are ignored thereby harming of society in general and even the corporation in the long run. As competition intensifies, some companies may adopt policies that ensure costs of production are reduced at all cost- eg low pay, ignoring some safety standards etc in order to offer low product prices to undercut the other competitor.

FREE RIDER PROBLEM/TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS : free rider problem occurs when people are able to use a public resource without paying for it. For example through taxes. It occurs when consumption cannot be restricted eg, use of a public road, public library etc. Free rider problem is basically when the public tend to shrink/ignore their responsibilities at the expense of others, leading to Tragedy of the commons. The tragedy of the commons happens when people seek personal gain at the expense of the society. For example, overusing a public resource and ending up depleting it completely leading to a scenario whereby no one is using it. Examples would include-traffic jams. Roads are meant to be used by general public and everyone would try to maximize their payoff by using the road. what happens when public transport system becomes unreliable? People buy their own cars in order to get to work faster. But it ends up clogging the roads and everyone gets stuck. One way to solve is ensuring decision makers have direct consequence over the decisions. ie. those responsible for public resources should be using them in the first place.

ZERO SUM VERSUS NON-ZERO SUM GAME: simply put, zero-sum games happens when one person’s gain equals to another person’s loss. meaning that the net change in wealth or benefit is zero. Zero sum game is not necessarily a bad thing if it is positive zero sum game, for example trade. When two people trade, there is exchange -one person loses something and other gains, but both are happy participants, and have anticipated gains from the engagement. Buying and selling options and futures is zero sum game,one has to lose for the other to gain. Everyone cannot outperform the market, some will have to lose. Stock market is not zero sum game. Non-zero sum game occurs when the aggregate gains and losses are less or more than zero.

EXTERNALITIES in economics can be either a cost or benefit incurred or received by a third party who has no control over its production. The basic and most straightforward example is pollution, when a company pollutes and the people who have no association with the company end up paying for it-by damaged health. There could also be positive externalities such as clean environment, healthcare system that ensures a healthy population that is able to contribute positively to nation building. Knowledge accumulation by population is also positive externality. R&D by corporations could be positive externality.

 

Butterfly effect : is the concept that a simple thing can cause far more impactful/unseen and even unintended consequences. The concept is imagined that when a butterfly is flapping its wings, it is causing a typhoon. Ofcourse, a butterfly cannot cause a typhoon.  It is mainly used in chaos theory. Some small acts of people may cause far greater consequences than intended. In history of the world, it is assumed that it is great events than caused great impact but in reality, it is small acts of people that spread like wildfire. In markets and business, sometimes it is hard to predict because sometimes things happen from what appears to chaotic behaviour partly because everything is highly interconnected.

ACTING IN SELF INTEREST IS THE INVISIBLE HAND THAT RUNS THE ECONOMY: when a person acts in self-interest and ends up benefiting others. for example, a farmer who plants in order to sell and get money, ends up creating a whole ecosystem from farm to processing industries, to transport, to logistics, to restaurants to the person buying the food. The farmer most probably did not intend to affect all that, he/she wanted to feed their family, get some money. Acting in self-interest does not therefore necessarily mean something bad. It is this principle that underpins blockchain. For the blockchain transactions to be verified, mining has to take place(verification of transactions). Miniers do so in order to earn some tokens/coins not necessary in order to help the blockchain ecosystem, but in them doing so, end up sustaining the blockchain ecosystem. So in order to get even millions of people to cooperate even without them knowing or intending to/ look out for their self interests. Another quote says ‘incentives run the world, understand incentives, direct or indirect and you understand people’. The good thing is that people can cooperate in millions even without government control or a structure as long as each party is benefiting. Self-interest and competition are what Adam Smith termed as ‘invisible hand’ that runs the economy. Self-interest is the motivator while competition is the regulator.

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