PERRYMAN: The economics of winning

The most fundamental thing that occurs in a market economy, no matter how primitive or how sophisticated, is exchange. Centuries ago, beads, shells, shiny pebbles or deer skins (from which we get the word “buck” as slang for a dollar) were traded for goods or services. Even before that, goods or services were bartered for others to the benefit of both parties. In our modern world, digital impulses have replaced the beads, shells, rocks and skins of days gone by — and even the more recent precious metals, token coins and fiat paper currency in many cases — but exchange remains the essential element of the economic system.

Every transaction involves some type of bargain in which tangible or intangible things are exchanged. Consumers use cash or credit to purchase products and services from merchants. Workers provide their labor to employers in exchange for compensation. Borrowers pay interest to lenders in exchange for the use of funds through loans. Investors buy shares or equity in companies and receive dividends or other returns. I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

Even with the enormous diversity of types of transactions, they all have one basic thing in common: for these exchanges to be workable and sustainable, both parties must benefit. Consumers aren’t forced to spend their money, but they do so for…

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