‘I’ve matched with this girl on Tinder, should I buy her a pony?’ On the economics of romantic gestures.

‘The very essence of romance is uncertainty.’ Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Ernest

It is a common misconception that economists don’t have feelings. We do, just like normal people. But we do tend to struggle a bit when it comes to expressing those feelings, due to our natural pragmatism that has been enhanced by years of training. If you tell someone you really like that they are second best, an economist will understand this is a massive compliment: this person is the best you could ever hope to find in a real, imperfect world. However, someone less trained in distinguishing between feasible and non-feasible solutions may find this rather odd and offensive. Why wouldn’t you just tell them they are first best, or simply perfect?

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A purely rational view on how forced migration ‘should’ be managed

Let’s be honest. Why should we care about intangible global goods like climate change, international security or global market stability? Whatever we or our governments do, we will not be able to turn the world into a better place on our own. Of course, we would appreciate the provision of such goods; praise the one who would shoulder the burden. After all, we would acknowledge that global public goods are preconditions for economic prosperity and sustainability. But let us face the facts: we live in autonomous states with national interests and societies, not in a global village. And, even more important, none of us could ever be excluded from the gains arising from economic or social stability. So why should we agree to any of these global deals? There is nothing to win. Why should far-away Europe, for example, host Syrian refugees when Jordan or Lebanon are the natural candidates?

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