Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Definitions in Action, part 1

Blogger and runner extraordinaire Mary has given me a hard time on my occasional use of "big" words. Instead of deterring me from their use, she has incited me to beginning a recurring feature, the illustration of a "big" word in a humorous setting.

Today's word is arbitrage. It is a noun. It is the practice of buying some asset (usually marketable securities) and immediately reselling that asset in another market. Arbitrageurs are big time, hotshot Wall Street investment types, the Top Guns of stockbrokers. To be successful at arbitrage, you've got to really master the differences between markets and have a sense of which directions the different markets are heading. It's heady stuff.

But arbitrage is fun for you and me, too--mostly owing to the fact that people are lazier than they are smart. For example, a first edition copy of Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "The Road" is currently selling on Amazon for $14.40. On ebay, some enterprising chap is selling a first edition of The Road for $50.00 (Buy It Now for $85!). Amazon and ebay are different markets-- buying on one and selling on the other could be really profitable stuff, especially if you could delay shipping you ebay orders so that you wouldn't even have to order from Amazon until some joker paid you 5 times too much on ebay.

So now you know all about arbitrage. And you should also know that The Road is a pretty good book.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is remarkable, rather amusing answer