Our latest podcast, “Weird Recycling,” is about the unlikely reuse of cast-off items. A reader named Gavin Castleton just happened to write in with an appealing riddle in the same vein:
Has there ever been a good/product whose value was reduced to zero, but somehow rose again? If so, could you shed any light on the market dynamics or social catalysts that revived it?
To put my question in context: I’m researching the music industry’s rocky transition from goods to services (download/physical goods to streaming music subscription services). Journalists, industry folk, and consumers are all quite fond of declaring “Music will be free. It’s obvious and inevitable.” But I started to wonder if it really was all that inevitable. So I started looking for other examples of a product that lost its monetary value completely, but somehow returned from the dead.