4.21.2008

Cookbook Arbitrage: Redux, Reuse, Recycle

While we do tend to return to certain themes here on RSGo (food, grammar, fashion, and chicken nuggets chief among them), it is rare that a particular topic will outlive an interest arc of a week or so (see also: twins, olsen + pants, hostess + blue, prussian). This is probably because I, like you, live in a short-attention-span culture where we consume information in bite-sized morsels from which we extract as much info-nutrition as we can and then (let's take the metaphor there) digest and expel within, I don't know, eight or so hours, or maybe fourteen to thirty-six if we are not eating enough fiber or have been traveling a lot.

This is all by way of introduction to the fact that it was quite a while ago that I single-handedly invented the greatest financial strategy of all time, namely: Cookbook Arbitrage, in which one takes advantage of the completely stupid* simultaneous printing of list prices in various national currencies on a single copy of a particular book in order to become a bajillionaire and retire in luxury on a boat entirely filled with tuna tartare and a very large refrigeration mechanism and some anti-mercury-poisoning tablets.

The book which I originally used to illustrate this point is a delightful cookbook which has positively languished on my Amazon wishlist, coughcoughcough, entitled Breakfast Lunch Tea, which oddly Amazon.com seems to no longer have in stock, although Anthropologie does, which probably says something about the preciousness of this cookbook, though perhaps nothing too surprising when you consider that this is after all the cookbook of a precious Parisian bakery run by a precious lady and published by a precious publishing company BUT ANYWAY ON WITH THE POINT OF ALL OF THIS WHICH IS:

When I wrote that brilliant post on the eve of the first night of Passover, 2007, which, according to the Jewish calendar, was almost exactly a year ago today (actually it is a year and three days, which is damn close enough for an accident), I was positing that this was a brilliant investment given a then-staggering conversion rate of $1.34 to €1.00.

Do you know what? The United States dollar continues to be about as stable as Tom Cruise's marriage (badum-CHH!), and that dollar thirty-four that bought you a shiny one-euro coin back in the day? Will now buy you only eighty-four euro-cents**, my friend.

But what sucks for America means money in your - yes your! - pocket! Because, ladies and gentlemen, you will not believe your eyes, but publishers only very rarely change the price on the back of a book! And since it is likely that there were not dozens of print runs of Breakfast Lunch Tea, it is also likely that every copy out there still lists the same international price scale. And this means profit!

Let us make like a rap star who has a used cardboard box and follows recycling laws, and break this down:


If you buy Breakfast Lunch Tea at the still-holding-steady price of $29.95, and go sell it to a friendly European person for €29.95, and convert your euros back to dollars, what on April 3 2007 netted you $40.05 will now net you a whopping $47.65 as of 5:11pm EST on April 21 2008! Your 2007 return of 33.72% has gone up to an eye-rubbingly unbelievable 59.09%, which is, depending on how you measure it, and I have no idea which way is correct but in the course of doing these three very different calculations I totally learned how to issue fraudulent profit statements, either an 18.9% or 25.37% or 75.23% increase in profit over merely one Jewish year, which is way hella better than alpha, for sure.

Were you to decide to do this using British Pounds, you would find yourself turning $29.95 into $39.50, or with Canadian dollars $39.72, or with Australian dollars (pounds?) $47.10. Holy crap! Again, conveniently ignoring transaction costs! But do it at a high enough volume and those transaction costs just melt away anyway!

The moral of all of this is that even though reading my brilliant writing two-to-seventeen times a month really is its own reward, you are now afforded another way to profit from my undeniable brilliance. EVEN IF YOU HAD IGNORED ME THE FIRST TIME. Look at how nice and forgiving I am.




*I do realize that this is not an entirely stupid practice from, say, the printing-and-shipping efficiency standpoint of the publishing company. But still. There has got to be a better way.

**I am pretty sure they still call them "cents" when it comes to the Euro, but as I am a Stupid American I am actually not very sure, and would like to refer to them as centimes or something lovely and foreign, but I worry that my overreliance on France as the ur-European Union-country will alienate any readers I may have in, perhaps, Denmark or Slovenia. Assuming that Denmark and Slovenia are part of the EU. Which anyway the point is: I am going to call them euro-cents and you are going to know what I am talking about and we are all going to live happily ever after.

4 comments:

Marcin said...

First of all, Denmark does not use the Euro. Second of all, the standard in English seems to be "eurocent" or "euro cent." "Cent" is definitely considered correct. Third of all, a third of a lime stained lightly with sangria looks obscene, like the parts of a lady. Try it at home.

helen said...

I had a feeling I was wrong about Denmark. And I will be sure to try out the ladyparts-from-a-lime trick next time I am in mixed company.

Marcin said...

Oh, and neither Slovenia nor Slovakia are Eurozone members. Unlike Denmark, they would like to be, though.

Marcin said...

Interesting note from the OED:
"The plural form euros is more common than euro in popular use, though EU legislative documents in English employ the latter."