The economy explained (with sheep)

September 27, 2008 at 11:03 am 5 comments

I’m only vaguely acquainted with the world of finance, a relationship marked by a profound mistrust on my part. (When I heard about Lehman Brothers, my first instinct was to withdraw all my savings and buy hand tools, seeds and a spinning wheel.) However, thanks to Scientist Boyfriend explaining short-selling in terms of sheep, I now have a clearer understanding of what is actually going on. You lend me your sheep, I sell them for a high price and buy them back in a month’s time for a low price. I now realise that my failure to understand economics is not because I am stupid, it is because economics is illogical.

Beneath the veneer of my expensive education, I am still, at heart, a peasant.

(Update – He then tried to explain GDP in terms of sheep, but when we got to the bit about sending 1,000,000 sheep back and forth across the Atlantic every other day in order to convince both the UK and the US that you only had 500,000 sheep, I made him shut up.)


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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Compostwoman  |  September 27, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    *MY* reaction was to suggest to compostman ( in all seriousness!) that we shuld get our money out of savings and buy land/stock/seeds/solar panels etc……

  • 2. Michelle  |  September 28, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    LOL! I love the GDP explanation!

  • 3. mtgardeninggirl  |  September 29, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    *laugh * I hate economics…. and you’re right, how on earth are you going to find someone to buy your sheep when you’re going to buy them back and they take a loss…. ???

    I would prefer to trade veggies and handiworks… although with our economy over here I rather suspect a lot more of that kind of thing will start happening.

  • 4. Jon in France  |  October 4, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    Did you get on to sheep derivative instruments? Baby lambs being mutton chop futures, that sort of thing.

    I once – briefly – traded weather futures; the girl who normally did it went off with stress and I was the only other person in the office who could handle the maths. What a complete pile of tosh that was! I’m not up-to-date with some of these more exotic derivatives, but the idea that an entire economy could be built up around them beggers belief.

    Greed does do some funny things to people.

  • 5. heathlakes  |  October 11, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    I wonder what the sheep explanation for last week’s carnage on the stock market would have been….


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September 2008
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The Heritage Crafts Network

Rob Hopkins, Transition Handbook

“Environmentalists have often been guilty of presenting people with a mental image of the world’s least desirable holiday destination – some seedy bed and breakfast near Torquay, with nylon sheets, cold tea and soggy toast – and expecting them to get excited about the prospect of NOT going there. The logic and the psychology are all wrong.”

Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

"Food is that rare moral arena in which the ethical choice is generally the one more likely to make you groan with pleasure."

Carlo Petrini

"A gastronome who is not also an environmentalist is an idiot. An environmentalist who is not also a gastronome is, well, sad."

Sharon Astyk

"I am, of course, firmly opposed to consumerism and corporatism in all its forms, and I believe that we are deeply confused about material needs and wants. Now let me explain how books and yarn are totally different than the material things that other people want ;-)…."

Raj Patel, at Slow Food Nation

"Biofuels, which is the preposterous policy that we should grow food not to eat it but to set it on fire."

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