Monday, April 17, 2006

But will 10 red paperclips get you 10 houses?

I am going to celebrate my 100th post by blogging about another blog: It is a specialist blog by Kyle MacDonald who has been trying for the last 10 months to covert his possession, one red paper clip, into a house. He is getting closer and this week sealed a trade that got him a year's rent on a place in Phoenix. That is also getting him a ton of media attention.

His sequence of trades to date has been:

• Paper clip for a fish-shaped pen
• Fish-shaped pen for a clay doorknob with a funny face on it
• Clay doorknob for a camping stove
• Stove for a generator
• Generator for an "instant party"
• Instant party for a snowmobile
• Snowmobile for an all-expenses-paid trip to Yahk, British Columbia
• Yahk trip for a panel van
• Van for a recording contract
• Recording contract for the year of free rent in Phoenix

Suffice it to say, he lots of options for each trade.

Now Kyle might read his goal. The publicity doesn't hurt at all and the ad revenue on his site may assist too. But should we conclude that 1 red paper clip can really have an exchange value of 1 house?

I am going to keep an open mind here. The economic test is simple: if 10 red paper clips could be traded for 10 houses then I am pretty confident we have set a market-price here. If not, then other factors (and there are tons of them) are likely at work. Let's wait and see.

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