Popular economic idiocy

Midsomer Murders is a kind of silly British crime show. For one thing, it is supposed to take place in an idyllic, rural English county. But this county seems to suffer about three murders per week, and nobody but nobody ever murders just a single person. But you know me… addicted to plots. And so sometimes I watch anyway.

The other day, the murder involved the local noble family, the residents of the village manor. One of them was going to buy the local pub, and then backed out.

The detective interviewing the pub owner was shocked at the agreed-upon price: "You were selling at well below market value!"

The implication is that, being the lords of the manor, members of the noble family had extra-market power to semi-coerce sales from the villagers. And then the discussion turns to the sale going south.

The pub owner complains, "When he backed out, we were devastated!"

For the writers, "market value" is apparently some abstract number, perhaps one declared by a government bureaucrat. It has nothing to do with any actual market, in which actual buyers would come forward and offer the market value for some piece of property, like this woman's pub. If her arm was being twisted into selling "below market value," she would be thrilled when that buyer backed out, since then she could receive the market value!


  1. Even with no grasp of economics, it seems like a pretty basic plot hole. Either they want to sell or they don't. If they want to sell, then they aren't being forced by the gentry; if they don't want to sell, then they wouldn't be devastated when the deal's off the table.

    I guess it would make sense if the implication is that the sellers are highly motivated, so they are willing to sell even when they feel like they are being ripped off. For instance, if I need to raise $300 for a life-saving operation, and I sell you my car, which I feel like I should be able to get $2k for, but for complicated personal reasons, I feel like I have to sell it to you, and you, being aware of my dire straits, offer me only $500 for it. I'll take that deal rather than die for want of surgery, and still feel like you've cheated me out of $1500, and still feel devastated when you back out of the deal because the consequences for me are so severe. Although, then you'd still have to explain why I can't sell the car to somebody else now that you don't even want it. Maybe you backed out of the deal 15 minutes before the surgery is scheduled, which is COD. This is getting complicated.

  2. Is that the new Barnaby? The old Barnaby would have never have said something so stupid.


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