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  • What’s better: Knowing the price of something or knowing with perfect information how much something should cost?


  • It's a trick question.


  • Suppose there are two farmers Al Trewis and Moe Cashferme. Each of them has 500 acres of land

    假設有兩個農夫- Al Trewis和Moe Cashferme. 他們每個人各有500畝的地

  • that could grow either corn or soybeans. Suppose I ask what their plans are. Both of

    可以種植玉米或是大豆. 假設我問他們的種植計畫為何? 兩人皆回答

  • them text back, “I don’t know.” Now suppose we borrowed a crystal ball from

    “我不知道” 現在, 假設我們跟精靈借了個水晶球

  • some genie and we know everything. Among the things the crystal ball can tell us are that

    然後我們知道所有事情. 而其中, 水晶球告訴我們

  • Brazil has had a terrible summer with drought then late floods that wiped out 40% of their

    巴西前陣子在夏天時有嚴重乾害, 而近期發生水災使得大豆產量少了40%

  • soybean crop. It also tells us that new uses for soybean curd have pushed up consumer demand for


  • soy paste all over Asia. Meanwhile, corn crop yields have hit record highs all over the world and,

    此時, 玉米的產出在全世界創新高,

  • At the same time, several countries ended their corn-based ethanol programs leading to an extraordinary corn surplus.

    然而, 許多國家不再施行以玉米釀酒精的計畫,因而造成大量玉米剩餘.

  • Our first farmer, Al, has to decide what to

    第一位農夫, Al, 必須決定要種植什麼.

  • plant. Al never wanted anything for himself. All he cares about was doing what’s best

    Al 這位農夫從未為自己設想. 他關心的盡是做什麼才對人類最有利.

  • for all of humanity. He does research trying to decide which crop would be better for humanity


  • as a whole, but it’s hard for Al to determine what information is most relevant because

    但對Al來說很難去判定哪個資訊最為相關, 因為

  • he doesn’t trust price information and the knowledge that he needs is too dispersed, too


  • specific, and too hard to learn. Now Al knows a lotbut still not enough.

    太特定,也不好學習. Al現在即使懂了很多,卻還是不夠.

  • He’s stuck at, “I don’t know.” So he makes a guess, plants corn. Al’s put

    他陷入一個不知所措的泥淖, 於是他跟它賭了一把-種玉米.

  • a tremendous amount of time and resources into his research instead of focusing on what

    Al 花了多數時間和大量資源在他的研究上而非專注在

  • he’s good atrunning a farm. As a result, he doesn’t get much corn planted, has a

    他所擅長的-經營農場. 結果想當然爾, 他在玉米收成不佳,

  • hard time selling the corn he does produce. He has to sell for very little and he ends up


  • bankrupt. Let’s look at Moe’s experience.

    破產. 接下來,我們來看看Moe的情形.

  • Since he cares only about profits, he focuses on prices. In early February, the price of corn futuresfalls sharply.

    因為他只關心獲利, 他專注在價格上. 在二月初, 玉米期貨價格

  • But soy futures indicate that prices for soy delivered in August should

    大幅下跌, 但八月時發表的大豆期貨顯示大豆的價格

  • be excellent. Why did this happen? Moe has no idea and he

    很樂觀. 為什麼會發生這樣的事呢?Moe對此毫無頭緒而且他

  • couldn’t possibly care less. Moe sells a large soy futures contract to lock in the


  • high price and plants soy on every square inch of land that he owns. It’s a selfish

    且在他所擁有的每一吋每一畝的土地種植大豆. 這是個自私的

  • bet, one thatll make Moe a lot of money. Instead of trying to be an expert in all the

    賭注, 但也因為這樣讓Moe賺取大把鈔票, 而非試著在他所需

  • disparate subjects he’d need to master to have perfect information about the marketplace,


  • he just focused time and resources on running his farm. And the only other information he

    他只專注在時間和資源在經營他的農場. 而價格是他唯一會額外使用的資訊.

  • used was prices. So he produced a lot of soybeans and did well for himself.


  • Which of the two did the right thing, the better thing for society? What would the genie


  • with the crystal ball have told us? The genie would have looked at the glut of corn and

    可能會跟我們說了什麼呢? 精靈當初看到大量的玉米和

  • the shortage of soy that made it so valuable and told us what people need is more soy.

    短缺的大豆, 使得大豆價值不斐, 這也訴說著人們比較需要大豆

  • But of course, there’s no such thing as genies in the real world. Information is too

    但當然, 現實世界裡沒有精靈這種東西. 資訊過於

  • dispersed, too complicated, to solve the "IDK" problem through research. There's just too

    分散,且太複雜, 以致於無法經由研究來解決"I do not know"的問題. 太多東西

  • much to know. Fortunately, farmers don’t need a crystal

    需要了解清楚了.還好, 農夫不需要一個水晶球

  • ball because prices do exactly what we were hoping that the genie would do. Farmers don’t

    因為價格恰好與我們所希望精靈所做得相同. 農夫

  • need to know why a price is high or low, and in fact no single person could possibly explain

    不需要知道為什麼價格高或低, 事實上沒有人能充分解釋原因.

  • it fully. But by growing the crop that produces the greater profit, farmers can produce the

    但藉由增加生產利潤較高的作物, 農夫能生產此作物

  • crop that solves the shortage, meets the demand, and satisfies the requirements of innovation.

    來解決短缺的問題, 迎合需求, 以及滿足創新的需要

  • It’s impossible to attain perfect information about the entire marketplace, which is changing

    不可能拿到整個市場精確無誤的資訊, 價格隨時都在改變.

  • all the time. Prices are a way of condensing all that information into one easily understood


  • signal. Almost like magic.


What’s better: Knowing the price of something or knowing with perfect information how much something should cost?


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