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Shopping at the Margin


I am currently weighing the calculated values of an investment: the excess cost, approximately a premium of 88% over an Amazon alternative, of course excluding the relative unknown opportunity cost inherent within the expense of at least one hour of time spent otherwise, perhaps invaluably or frivolously, depending upon the lens of observation. The 88% immediate premium may indeed be justified by an enhanced experience, whether by that immediate satisfaction of time preference, a joyful commute or in-store adventure; however, those expectations would spawn from one's familiarity with the route, the type of store, the expectation of product availability and consistent quality, and the risk tolerance or appetite of the operators to retain and endure the remaining unseen or unforeseen probability of aberration: this is admittedly an ever-trivialized cost over the course of replicated exposure, yet the risks thereof remain relevant, practical signals to those market participants.


In this moment, I am left to calculate the total utility gained by the purchase of one unit, a Tycho vinyl album in my proximate location at the aforementioned 88% premium excluding commute risks, expense of time, and those built-in risks, as compared to that online purchase of that unit at the discounted price, which would however delay the satisfaction attending unit acquisition, mightily risking an eventuality of reduced demand and gratification upon delivery, known colloquially as buyer's remorse.

The nominal savings upon the transaction here under review would, however, enable further unit accumulation, even covering the nominal cost of 71% of two additional units, below the appraisal and status of the other unit, or up to 81% of an additional unit at parity or beyond the appraisal of the primary unit. The Amazon shopping cart includes seven units at the moment, totaling $108.76, returning an average per-unit cost of $15.54: three of the units, behavioral economics texts, are of secondary priority as compared to the other four units, vinyl records by Tycho, Explosions in the Sky, and This Will Destroy You, all nearly at parity.

Here the operator engages in the pseudo-calculated comparison -- the science of which is a function of style, through expressed preferences in the operator's appetite for expensive information, which often becomes more arduous, inaccessible, potentially unreliable, less original, and therefore more expensive with every additional unit of time -- between the respective marginal utilities of each additional unit of text and that of the vinyl records. This may be achieved through a variety of nuanced mechanisms: nominal or real financial returns -- dependent upon sensitivity to this distinction, time horizons, and expectation of deviation across the relvant term -- or incidental gains in output, whether aesthetic, existential, metaphysical, or by physical, notional, or psychological capacity, all of which may be compared to the current inventories of the operator and the perceived capacities thereof.

Of course, the operator possesses always incomplete information, capital, and resources to complement and generate the apparently discretionary outcome; however, the operator reserves no such "choice" or "discretion" beyond the bounds and limits of this aforementioned capital, and therefore exhibits "discretion" or "choice" only by the observer's supplementary or substitutional recognition of risks, alternatives, and timelines rooted exclusively within the preferences or dispositions of the observer.

Herein, relative to the purchasing power of my savings and its predicted future quality, considering the foregone gains in alternative investments, whether by interest, market dividends, or more speculative ventures, I am able to assess the quality of every dollar, or rather unit of account, in relation to its present and predicted condition. Of course. the calculus exercised by each person will follow the operator's respective possession of information, knowledge, intuition, circumstances, and sensitivities. Many of these operators will act, or have acted, in relative haste, even with striking carelessness, while some, if not most in the ever-globalized commercial sphere, have relinquished or ceded authority, so-called discretion, or even responsibility to other operators in order to more expediently, expeditiously, and nearly automatically generate fixed or statutory expectations of outcomes; this has materialized through the myriad convergences of persons and industries in formalized, oftentimes de facto interactions, transactions, conglomerations, ideologizations, and further inertial outcomes such as partisanship, cognitive dissonance, conformity, and even those of chauvinistic quality.

In the end, the operator seems to exhibit binary extrapolation while expressing preference or effectuating and matching interests with those of another, whereby both parties expect maximized return from the exchange, limited to the excess over perceived value of that which was sold. Ultimately, I will postpone the point of sale until I am completely, in the asymptotic sense, satisfied with the reconciliation between the costs and the consistency and developed reliability of my perceived expectations of return. I can afford that luxury.

After all, the marginal cost of delaying by one additional day the purchase of those economics texts and vinyl records is reconcilable due to the ambiguity of that time of future delivery, which will typically range from 8-12 business days. Whether I transact today or tomorrow, the reasonable expectation of delivery will perceptibly fall within a range seemingly insensitive to an additional day’s difference. 

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