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Supply and Demand, Nigerian Style

Every thug in Nigeria needed a machete to help ensure that the general elections in the country were conducted “properly.”

Take a guess what happened to the price of machetes after the election, according to Reuters.

To be honest, though, I have a hard time believing this is true for the same reason that gun control laws don’t work. Machetes, like guns, are long-lived durable goods. The stock of used machetes is far greater than the flow of new machetes being sold at any one time. For a thug, a used machete is a very close substitute for a new machete. So if new machetes were selling for double their usual price before the election, I would have expected many farmers to sell their used machetes to thugs at inflated prices, knowing that after the election they could buy them back cheaply. (Of course, it is also possible that having a machete for self-defense was extremely valuable to farmers before the election because of marauding thugs, in which case prices really might be expected to temporarily rise.)

(Hat tip: Doug Nelson)