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Artistic License – Economics

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Mad Scientist: With Neutro on our side, we can gather all the world's wealth in a day!
Linkara: Thus making the money worthless because of simple economics! Wait...

Stories, especially in role playing games and Speculative Fiction, sometimes have economies with rules and features that simply don't add up. Nobody gets paid, but everybody has all the money they need; economies are stable despite huge amounts of gold and jewels being dumped into them (or taken out of them) on a regular basis; or "we don't use money anymore" with no further explanation... the list goes on and on...

An increasing amount of artistic license is also used with the inner workings of corporations, with impossible amounts of money being generated or siphoned by accounting tricks or embezzlement, minority shareholders ousting the majority (especially in Superhero fiction), dictatorial CEOs of public companies who never answer to the board, and so on.

Please see UsefulNotes.Economics for a more detailed explanation of economic theories, as well as a list of errors in economic understanding that occur more in real life than in fiction.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • BNA: Brand New Animal: In the Baseball Episode, the baseball team that Michiru joins turns out to have been rigged to lose every game as part of a gambling scheme by the mob because this brings in lots of money with people betting against them. In reality, that would wind up costing the bookie running the operation money since he'd have to pay out every time as people bet against them (as the team was extremely unpopular and had no fans before Michiru joined it and started winning games with her shapeshifting ability).
  • Dance in the Vampire Bund: As part of the deal to establish the Bund as a self-ruling state within Japanese borders at the start of the story, Mina Tepes pays off the entire national debt of Japan. This is presented as an unambiguous positive, but nation-states have in the past become economically unstable at times when they carried no national debt at all (for example the United States in the 1840s). Emerging economic theories such as modern monetary theory suggest that, since modern "fiat" currency only has value in the first place because the government says it does, states that are the sole provider of their currency (like Japan with the yen) can carry as much debt as they like without fear of bankruptcy as long as inflation rates remain reasonable.
  • One-Punch Man: Played for Laughs with the Paradise Group's scheme. They want to make a world wherein people only have to work if they want to, and those who don't work are fully financially supported. They don't seem to know that this is not at all how economics or universal basic income programs work, but then again they really aren't all that smart.
  • Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt: Parodied in "The Stripping." Scanty and Kneesocks open a casino in a scheme to drive the world's economy to a halt. How? They take the money that people lose gambling to feed the Monster of the Week, in an effort to bankrupt the world by robbing it of all its hard cash. They never once consider there are other units of measuring assets, which include stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, precious metals, gems, and real estate.
  • Toriko: The entire ingredients-based economy should have failed plenty of times over. Food, while very important, isn't the most important thing when building a civilization with a monetary system. Not to mention that the main character — who eats more than an entire continent's worth of people — can cash things on a "gold card" that has no limit and apparently he never has to pay. Toriko has a huge income from selling the things he hunts and does not eat, even given that that's a minority of what he catches. He regularly comes to the market with extremely expensive rare ingredients.

    Audio Plays 
  • Bert and I...: "Bert and I Stem Inflation" has quite a few, exaggerated for humor. For example, inflation is not caused by the Secretary of the Treasury signing individual dollar bills too quickly, especially not by signing his whole name instead of using his initial.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Wayne Enterprises is typically portrayed as an entity with infinite spending power and zero paper trail. One villain figured out Batman's identity just by looking at the people rich enough to afford all those nifty crimefighting gadgets.
  • Superlópez features the country of Tontecarlo (portmanteau of "tonto", meaning dumb, and Montecarlo). Citizens of Tontecarlo do not have jobs: They instead gamble and play state-owned lotteries anywhere — eg., the customs officers play shell games for money with any incoming tourists. The main characters, visiting tourists, notice that money flow cannot continue; however, tourism brings more money to Tontecarlo.
  • Marvel Comics used this and "damn the expenses" as a plot point in Secret War (2004): after a rash of super-suit robberies, SHIELD noticed that criminals with multi-million dollar suits were cashing in tens of thousands, and immediately deduced somebody was funding them.
  • Superman: Many Silver Age comics had Superman turn coal into All-Natural Gem Polish diamond - using his super-strength by pressurizing them - so that he could quickly sell it for money or donate for it to be sold. However, creating diamonds so easily would only lower their price, and real diamonds are valuable due to artificial scarcity. Then again, a diamond custom-made by the Man of Steel himself could have some value...
  • Superman: Red Son: Invoked when Lex Luthor solves the budget deficit problem by... scribbling a formula on a piece of paper, if only to get Jimmy Olsen to stop bothering him. It doesn't work. Later, Superman's Soviet Russia drives America to ruin via embargo — being Superman, breaking said embargo is not healthy for one's life.
  • Valérian: There is a creature called the Grumpy Converter from Bluxte, which feeds on powerful energy sources (anything from a power socket to nuclear material), but also ingests smallnote  objects which it then duplicates by excreting more of them, converting energy into matter. Everyone in the comic treats it as a way to produce some quick cash for running expenses by duplicating blutoks and eebeb pearls, which are the main legal currencies of the galaxy. They also copy rare objects considered valuable for their history, at times.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: Depending on the writer, Scrooge McDuck sometimes attempts to make money through undertakings that cost more in the execution than any expected profit margin could cover and has on certain occasions resorted to outright baldfaced crime.
    • On one occasion, he attempted to swindle an inheritance from Donald, despite the clear paper trail establishing Donald as the rightful one, and even brought along Donald as hired help!
    • One story has Scrooge (for some inexplicable, out-of-character reason) worry that he was making money faster than he can spend, and takes Donald and the nephews along for a lengthy, extravagant trip where they waste tons of money on cars and food. When they return home, Scrooge has made even more money because, everything they bought having come from his own businesses, the money spent failed to deduct from his fortune while his regular business interests continued to generate money.
    • More generally, some have tried to argue that Scrooge is a living danger to world economics since he's getting richer everyday while he doesn't send back much money in the outside world (given how stingy he is), so in a very small time he would possess all the money in the world which would then become worthless since it would be concentrated in one person. The writers, however, manage to avoid this issue in three ways. First, it has been long-established that Scrooge doesn't care if his money is worthless, since he never spends any (what he enjoys with having money is contemplating the coins and swimming in them). Second, it is also established that there are at least two other characters who handle as much money as Scrooge at approximately the same rate: Flintheart Glomgold and John D. Rockerduck. Then, even if most of the world's money is probably concentrated in the three ducks' pockets, they hate each other so much that none of the three would accept leaving money to the two others, keeping economics from being ruled by one undisputed leader (technically, Scrooge's the richest of the three, but only because he owns a few more inches of old string, so it counts for the Guiness World Records but doesn't matter at the stock exchange). Thirdly, Scrooge once was placed in a situation where winning in one day three times his current fortune would cause the death of the city of Duckburg. Scrooge, being kind-hearted under his tough exteriors, burnt the document which allowed him to ask the city this amount of money.
    • Altogether averted in an old Carl Barks story, "A Financial Fable", where a freak hurricane blasts Scrooge's fortune across the countryside, but he remains uncharacteristically calm and jovial, and settles down to tend a farm. Meanwhile everybody in miles' vicinity, including Donald, gets millions deposited right on their laps. Subsequently everyone decides that they are rich and no longer need to work, instead trying to go see the world and spend their money on luxuries, only to realise that no-one is selling anything and all industry is going to a standstill due to everybody being "rich". Soon enough they all are forced to buy their food and basic commodities from the only person who kept working all this time, Scrooge McDuck, himself, who naturally charges by the present rated value, several million dollars for a modest meal, and soon enough all the cash has flown back to his pockets, restoring the financial equilibrium.
    • In one comic, Scrooge attempts to make a common quarter worth billions by making it rare. He does this by buying up all the coins from the same year, then dumping them into the ocean. This would amount to illegal destruction of money, since the coins are effectively taken out of circulation. Further, the coin is valued at some fantastical amount, which is the price Scrooge expects to get for it only to be told Scrooge himself is the only person in the world capable of paying it. This is not how such valuation works. Basically, like with every collectible, it is only worth as much as anyone is willing to pay for it, which would be higher than the original 25 cents, but far short of the millions that it is stated as being worth. If no one wants to buy it, it is effectively only worth its normal valuation (which seems likely after the annoying ad campaign Scrooge ran for his scheme).
    • In one story, Scrooge's money-making scheme du jour consists of selling robots that flawlessly track down lost items. This ultimately ends in disaster because, since people are no longer losing things, they're also no longer buying replacements and thus all his other businesses collapse. This makes very little sense — people buy things for multiples reasons other than replacing lost items, such as replacements for broken items, consumables such as food, fuel, hygiene products and the like, and simply new items that they want. A lack of lost items might lead to a minor drop in certain types of purchases, but it wouldn't grind the economy to halt in the manner depicted.
  • A Spy Kids comic in one issue of Disney Adventures had the evil organization F.A.N.G. (Fear, ANger, Greed) plan to destroy all the cereal in the world so that everyone would be forced to buy "Fang Flakes" for a million dollars each. Yeah, have fun having no business at all with those prices. Lampshaded when it turned out F.A.N.G. didn't even know how they were going to destroy all the cereal in the world.
  • Spider-Man: In Web of Spider-Man #6, the Beyonder innocently turns a whole building into gold in the middle of the night; the U.S. government however decides to keep it a secret and pay the Kingpin to forever keep the gold out of reach (i.e. secretly throw it into the ocean's depth) since its discovery by the public would supposedly destroy the world's economy. But in reality, that would no more destroy the world economy than would a major gold strike in the mining industry. It would depress gold prices for a while, but since no one uses the gold standard anymore, it would have very little effect beyond that. Doesn't stop Spidey from swiping one item, a gold notepad, though; he just uses it to help pay off Aunt May's home to prevent it from being repossessed.
  • Subverted in a Spirou comic, the Big Bad fires one of his best agents after his Heel–Face Turn which scares stockholders into selling their stocks and his competitor ends up buying his whole company in an improbable domino effect. The truth is that the competitor has been waiting for any spark of doubt such as this and influenced the market accordingly to make it look like the Big Bad was going under for years. It's still done in a day though which is too fast.

    Fan Fiction 
  • In the Love Hina fanfiction Repercussions, Kitsune steals 30,000 yen from Keitaro to buy booze. When she is caught, she is told that she will be expected to pay it back or else, and that she will have to work for a long time to do so. Thirty thousand yen is only about $250 (US) or £120 — not exactly pocket change, but hardly the staggering sum the fanfic suggests. Given that she has a full-time job waitressing, Kitsune should be able to pay it off in a matter of weeks.
  • Discussed by James in Common Sense when the Magikarp salesman gives his pitch about how Magikarp lays one thousand eggs at a time. He instantly sees through the ruse, because if it's really such a fast multiplier, basic laws of supply and demand state that its real value would be nowhere near what the salesman claims.
  • If I Only Had A Heart: Izuku gets paid 600,000 yen to license his miracle material. That's roughly 5,000 dollars, which should be only a bit more than his mother makes in a month. Yet everyone acts like this is a an incredible amount of money. Even if it was 600,000 dollars, it would be a pitance, considering the material can stand Bakugo's explosions, yet was made by borderline poor Izuku using what materials he could afford/scrounge. He also gets 2% royalties, which makes more sense.
  • Near the end of Partially Kissed Hero, it's revealed that Dumbledore had used his political influence to pass regulations that made buying, selling, or manufacturing literally anything illegal in Magical Britain, then used that opening to smuggle goods into the country. When he's forced to flee the United Kingdom, Magical Britain's economy collapses to the point people are selling houses for loaves of bread. Somehow, despite the nation being the ultimate seller's market, Dumbledore was the only smuggler to ever operate in it, and nobody thought of starting a black market. What's more, after this happens, Harry makes a big deal out of acquiring large sums of wealth, even though that money no longer has a functioning government to back it and thus is worthless.
  • In Harry Potter and the Natural 20, D&D-style wizard Milo crafts magic items according to D&D 3.5 rules, which means he needs to provide a stock sum of money for materials. Trade goods can be used in lieu of actual money, and uses the pricing set by the core books - where salt, for instance, has the approximate equal value of silver per pound. However, in the time period of the HP books, salt is actually dirt cheap, to the point that muggles dump tons of it on roads to clear away ice. Once Milo realizes he can buy low-grade salt for a pittance, re-value it into a fortune by his standards, and then spend it making magic items the Ministry will pay hand over fist for, he's basically broken the economy.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. One of the characters is Brockley, a black marketeer who sneaks into the Dalek mine to exchange food he's found in the abandoned towns for whatever jewelry and other valuables the slave workers have. However even those who collaborate with the Daleks are depicted as living barely above the starvation level, so there's no-one on the entire planet who'd be interested in such trinkets. Furthermore Brockley says he can easily find valuables in the abandoned towns, so why would he risk his life sneaking into the Dalek mine to barter for them?
  • In Euro Trip, the exchange rate in Slovakia is taken to parodic levels. It seems that having less than two dollars in American money makes them part of the wealthy ruling class, including a stay at a five-star hotel and access to an exclusive nightclub. Scott flips one of the servants an American nickel, who promptly quits and tells his manager that he will open his own hotel.
  • The Russian fantasy film Sadko (known to MST3K fans as The Magic Voyage of Sinbad) has the main hero try to help out his home town by forcing its merchants to redistribute their wealth among the poor. It doesn't work so well since there doesn't seem to be enough to go around. (That, and the hero ends up giving away all the money he was going to use for his quest.) The original story had him trying to buy all the goods in the city and monopolize the trade. Turned out the external trade scale was quite out of his league.
  • In Canadian Bacon, the president wanted to start some international problems so he'd have an excuse to reopen the recently closed munitions factories given the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. Then again, his primary goal was really just to stir up Patriotic Fervor and boost his popularity. Also, in the film, the relative weakness of the Canadian dollar in the 1980s and 1990s was played up to hilarious levels, with a fine either being $1000 Canadian, or $10 US.
  • The Mexican satirical film Un Mundo Maravilloso portrays an alternate Mexico which simultaneously has economic growth and stability and rampant poverty, widespread unemployment and plunging stock markets at the same time..
  • Star Trek: Insurrection: The Son'a and the Federation seek to harvest a planet of metaphasic radiation, a precious resource that grants the inhabits of said planet youthful vigor and centuries of life, but which will render said planet uninhabitable and compels the Federation to engage in a secretive and illegal forced relocation of its 600 residents. Except, if a single harvesting process is all that it takes to siphon the entire planet of all of its metaphasic radiation, that suggests that there wasn't much metaphasic radiation on the planet to begin with, and if you are sharing it with the entire United Federation of Planets (i.e. with hundreds of billions of people) that radiation will run out fast, likely within the span of a few years. If the radiation is a renewable resource, then you could just take enough for your short term needs and come back for more later; if it is a limited resource, then you should be taking as little as possible for your short-term needs so as not to waste it. Either way, the villains are just being criminally inefficient if their method is going to slurp up everything and leave behind a dead husk.
  • In The Fifth Element, Zorg espouses the "Destruction Equals Employment" mentality, and demonstrates it by destroying a glass and explaining how the machines that clean the glass shards away employ so many people manufacturing them. However, Zorg doesn't mention that only companies like his, which profits off of war, stand to benefit, rather than society as a whole. It's a version of the Parable of the Broken Window, which is explained in more detail at The Other Wiki.short version
  • In Wisdom (1986), the titular character, John Wisdom, goes on a bank-robbing spree, but not to steal money. Instead, he and his girlfriend destroy bank property records to help farmers. The film was released in 1986, a time when American farmers were having problems keeping their farms. The banks were seen to be the bad guys because they were the ones foreclosing when the farmers couldn't make the payments on the loans. In the film, John Wisdom is seen as a modern-day Robin Hood because he saves the farmers from foreclosure. Apparently, in the movie, the banks that are hit only have one copy of the records and when Wisdom destroys these records, there are no ill effects on the local economies. There have been times when that would have worked - medieval serf rebellions often made a point of destroying any records proving who were serfs so that any survivors could then pass themselves as yeomen - but it doesn't work well in an era with photocopiers.
  • In Street Fighter, Bison pays his underlings with "Bison Dollars", which are technically worthless due to having no economic backing, but Bison plans to force the Bank of England to value them at five pounds per Bison dollar by kidnapping their Queen. Brilliant plan. Even if they did agree to the plan, he'd have to hold her indefinitely since people would just exchange their B$ for real money (you know, with financial backing and stability) as quick as possible before the bank either collapsed or reneged on the deal when they got the Queen back. And that's assuming everyone involved would accept financial ruin just to save figurehead nobility. Then again, while a Magnificent Bastard, Bison is utterly insane and the smarter of his accomplices know the currency is worthless.
  • Other People's Money: Both Jorgy and Larry in their big speeches. Jorgy talks about how the wire and cable industry will recover when the dollar is a little stronger and the yen is a little weaker; actually, that would just mean that an American company like his would get priced out of the market by its Japanese competitors. On the other hand, Larry says that the fastest way to go broke is to have an increasing share of a shrinking market; that's true if and only if the market shrinks away to nothing, which is unlikely to happen for products like wire and cable. Otherwise, having an increasing share of a any market, shrinking or otherwise is a way to become spectacularly profitable, since it eliminates all your competitors.
  • The Mayflowers' plan in Hudson Hawk is to find Leonardo da Vinci's machine for turning lead into gold, and using it to turn gold into Worthless Yellow Rocks and crash the world currency market. This is in fact good economics—in a world where currency is still backed by gold. However, the film was released in the early 1990s, at which point the only major currency linked to gold was the Swiss franc. While that would be enough to make for some nasty economic problems, it wouldn't be nearly sufficient to hold the world economy hostage. On the other hand, the Mayflowers are cartoonish villains in a slapstick comedy. It doesn't have to make sense.
  • In Time is set In a World… where they've "turned off the aging gene", and lifespan has become currency to combat overpopulation. That actually could work rather well... except that the elites of this society seem more concerned with preventing overpopulation than maintaining a working economy; they've hiked the prices of goods and lowered wages so much that entire communities have less lifespan to their name than hours in the day - go to work every day or die. Added to that, there is the problem that they are using as currency something with a large intrinsic value of its own: time. The whole point of money is that it's a medium of exchange; ideally, it should have no value of its own. As a parable of rich people annihilating the people they deem worthless it makes more sense.
  • Gordon Gekko in Wall Street: A justified use of the trope, as the way Gekko makes money is indeed a zero sum game. While absolute wealth and value can be increased, relative wealth is pretty much constant. If you embrace the concept of the positional good (as Gekko seems to), then you only advance by getting ahead of others. Only so many people can be in the 1%, only one guy can be the richest. If wealth is a measuring stick for status and control, you don't want "enough", you want more than everyone else. Whether the economics are flawed or not depends on whether you accept that concept or not.
  • John Nash in A Beautiful Mind erroneously defines a Nash Equilibrium. A beautiful blonde woman walks into a bar with her (supposedly) less attractive friends. He suggests that if they all target her, she will turn them all down and her less-attractive friends will spurn them because nobody likes being second-choice. However, a Nash equilibrium is defined as a set of strategies for each player where no player has an incentive to unilaterally change his choice of action, holding all other players' actions as given — in the example, every individual has an incentive to unilaterally deviate by adjusting his strategy and hitting on the blonde.
  • The Dark Knight Rises:
    • Bruce Wayne is bankrupted after Bane and his minions break into the stock exchange, hold everyone there at gunpoint, and make fake trades in Bruce's name using his (stolen) fingerprints. In reality, there are strict regulations imposed on volume trading in basically every stock market, such as public announcements being necessary when the offering exceeds the average daily trading value, making the idea of Bruce Wayne buying massive amounts of stock or selling his own Wayne Corp. stock ludicrous. Major stock exchanges also have the ability to quickly cancel trades if necessary, and Bruce Wayne would have been easily able to get off the hook for those fraudulent trades. This is acknowledged in the movie a couple of scenes later when Lucius Fox tells Bruce that they'll be able to prove fraud but that in the immediate short term, Bruce is bankrupted. This also assumes that the computer program wasn't somehow inserting backdated trades into the system. Though that would presumably leave a trace, it would certainly take much longer to disentangle. The whole situation is played similarly to a robbery or large-scale embezzlement. It's lampshaded by people on the floor. Although... considering the ridiculous speeds at which the regulating body can close down a Stock Exchange (for example the flawed shut-down system for China's stock exchange in early 2016), Bane and his henchmen wouldn't get close to a computer before the system was shut-down.
      Broker: This is a stock exchange, not a bank. There's no money for you to steal!
      Bane: Really? Then why are you people here?
    • It should also be noted that wealth doesn't work that way, since the Wayne family definitely has some money in a personal bank account somewhere. No billionaires keep all their money in company stock, otherwise they wouldn't even be able to buy themselves a $1 burger, much less an entire restaurant or a fancy new sports car.
    • Utilities don't get shut down days after someone goes bankrupt, or gets behind on their payments, as that could endanger lives. Imagine a minor screw-up at a hospital and it coming to light the following day, when all the life support patients are dead.
    • Bankruptcy also doesn't tend to work that quickly for individuals, and is a voluntary condition filed by said individual, not an automatic status (of course, Fox could have just been figurative). It would essentially seek protection from debtors by claiming lack of funds, but there shouldn't be any issue with paying bills due in the near term due to the liquidity point mentioned above.
  • At the end of Babette's Feast, Babette reveals that she spent all her lottery winnings, 10,000 Francs, on the eponymous feast, as that was the price of dinner for twelve at the Cafe Anglais. Of course, that would be the price on the bill at the end of the meal, but that price would have to cover many other expenses beyond the cost of ingredients: the restaurant's rent (in Paris, no less, with its very high rents), the wages of the waiters, busboys, and all the kitchen staff (including Babette's), and, not least, profits for the owners. None of that would have been a factor in the meal Babette prepared in the film. Justified, in this case, in that this was really just an excuse by Babette not to leave the sisters and their village.
  • The Purge Universe is guilty of several failures: first in not understanding what a feasible way to improve the economy radically might be, and second in what are the signs of a booming economy, thirdly how supply and demand work for some industries. The series eventually reveals that the New Founding Fathers of America is a corrupt party full of elitist, murderous madmen, which obviously would be willing to say such Blatant Lies.
    • The government institutes the titular Purge, which is an annual 12-hour period during which nearly all crime is allowed. This is all but confirmed to have been instated as a means of killing off homeless people and other "leeches of society" types. Kill the Poor does not work as a method to improve the economy. Those people still buy things to sustain themselves, so you are destroying a good portion of consumers, as well as destroying a source of cheap labor.
    • Furthermore, with all the looting and burning, there would be an eternal recession going on. The Detroit riots of '67 left the city in shambles and it took months, if not years, for the wages to go back up for anyone around. Now, imagine a situation where there aren't any emergency services to put out fires or contain the arsonists. Property damages alone would be astronomical, not to mention the impact of having no stores (all looted except perhaps a few very big ones who can afford the private armies necessary to protect their goods), having to rebuild every year and having to spend money to get everything back on track after the yearly mayhem. Everyone would be eating horses and boiling boots in less than a year.
    • In The Purge: Election Year, insurance companies are listed as one of the primary beneficiaries of The Purge, and this is shown when one character has their rates tripled hours before the Purge starts. In reality, the effects of damage becoming far more likely (such as with an increase of natural disasters) on the insurance industry are well-documented; companies can raise their customer's rates to a point, but will eventually collapse as more and more people drop their insurance (even the most essential industries understand you can't get blood from a stone), and the companies have to make more and more payouts until they go bankrupt.
  • In Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, the evil Russian plot is to simultaneously launch a massive terrorist attack on New York while dumping a huge number of American dollars on global currency markets, crashing the US economy. While a major terrorist attack certainly would cause some short term economic harm, and dumping dollars would cause the dollar to weaken, the two events would hardly cause a "second Great Depression." First of all, devaluing the dollar, while causing harm in many respects, would make American exports much more competitive in global markets and would also protect the American domestic market from foreign competition. The Great Depression was a deflationary crisis, where economic contraction was the result of the dollar's being too valuable. Second, dumping dollars is only a good prospect for crashing a market if no one else is willing to buy: it undermines faith in the currency when someone sell the currency at ludicrously low prices and there's still no one willing to pay that amount, but if someone does pay that amount, all you've done is lost money on your deal (and given the fact that the US dollar is still one of the most stable currencies in the world, there is always someone willing to buy, especially at the discount necessary for the dumping scheme; in effect, the villain is just making someone quite a lot of money).
  • Goldfinger:
    • A piece of exposition from a Bank of England rep has him explain to M and Bond that Britain (and its allies such as the United States) keep gold reserves to "estimate the true value of the dollar and the pound". The UK abandoned the gold standard for fiat money in the 1930s, although the US didn't fully drop it until the Nixon administration.
    • Subverted and defied in the main plot. Bond figures out Goldfinger is lying to his mob backers when he stops to think about his "plan" and realizes that carting all the gold out of Fort Knox is not only difficult, it would also massively devalue the currency against him. Goldfinger than reveals his actual plan: by nuking Fort Knox, it would create artifical scarcity and jack up the value of his personal gold even more. It should be noted that this is a case of Adaptation Distillation: in the original novel, Goldfinger was planning to steal all the gold. The makers of the film changed it as they knew Goldfinger would need more manpower to do so.
  • In Johnny Mnemonic, an evil MegaCorp intends to suppress the cure for a deadly disease which half the world's population suffers from, their logic being that "treating the disease would be more profitable than curing it." However, their treatment medicines cost far more than most people could afford, especially over any duration. This business strategy would likely see diminishing returns over time, as increasing numbers of people living on low and middle-class incomes struggle to pay the company's exorbitantly high prices and many more sick people die off amidst the global pandemic. In these circumstances, one could expect that their working cure would ultimately yield greater profits because it could be cheaper (especially if consumers only need a one-time dose or prescription), would have a greater public demand (especially if such a desired product is depicted in the movie as something people would go as far as to start riots over), and would help the global population remain healthy, thrive, and build an even more prosperous and sustainable world economy in the long term.
  • In Lethal Weapon 2, when Riggs and Murtaugh discover the bad guys' stash of drug money, Murtaugh exclaims: "These are thousand-dollar bills!" The Federal Reserve stopped printing large-denomination notes in 1945, and such currency was removed from circulation in 1969. While still considered legal tender, it's extremely unlikely that an entire shipping container of these bills would be available twenty years later.
  • Lex Luthor's master plan in Superman: The Movie is to blow the North American west coast into the sea, causing all the currently worthless land in the southwest that he bought to become the new coast prime for selling. Setting aside the environmental factors that probably sink this plan from the startnote , the US government could probably seize the disaster zone via Eminent Domain immediately on national security/emergency factors. In the unlikely scenario that they don't, it will probably be decades before investors will be willing to develop on a coastline that wasn't there years before. Luthor may not live long enough to recoup a single penny, let alone see the riches he seemed to be predicting. Not to mention the fact that he has taken no steps whatsoever to hide his responsibility for the disaster—using a company named after himself to buy the real estate, for instance—and will undoubtedly be prosecuted.
  • Luthor's Serial Escalation plan in Superman Returns of creating a new continent in the Atlantic that will demolish the East Coast while making his own new land valuable is a hell of a lot worse. At least the plan of the first film didn't have wiping out two-thirds of the United States (at least — there are also the possibilities of other ecological side-effects that may happen from a whole new continent appearing that are impossible to calculate) as collateral damage. The economical impact of that would be equally apocalyptic.
  • Boiler Room:
    • The chop shop brokerage firm J.T. Marlin has clients who continue to trade with them despite taking huge losses. In reality, nobody would want to buy from a firm that sells shoddy products or services.
    • J.T. Marlin overcharges on the fraudulent stock it sells, with the brokers getting a "rip" of two dollars for every share sold. While transaction fees are an industry norm, there are rules on how much stockbrokers can charge their clients. Any investor should always look at the fees being assessed, the investment's suitability, and if their broker is "churning" (overtrading on client accounts for the sake of more commissions). At best, the broker would be barred from the securities industry for life.
  • The Phantom Menace: The plot point of Watto refusing to accept Qui-Gon Jinn's offered payment in Republic credits for repair parts. Aside from the obvious solution of Qui-Gon just hiring another ship captain who flies routes into the Republic and would therefore need Republic currency, the currencies of large, stable economies tend to be more valuable than local currencies in developing and fringe economies (c.f. the dominance of the US dollar in black markets). Though given the demonstrable corruption of the Republic in the film, it's possible that the Republic credit has become severely devalued compared to the currencies favored by Tatooine's Hutt rulers.
  • Avatar: Unobtainium is explained with a throwaway comment that it's a room temperature superconductor that makes space travel more affordable, but Pandora is also home to scientific miracles that the expedition doesn't even acknowledge. The data on an alien ecosystem that could fill several libraries back home? The floating islands that could give new insights into physics and engineering? The biological computer that could hold the key to life beyond body death? All ignored for a shiny valuable metal.

  • In The Adventures of Stefón Rudel, one of Stefón's deeds is a generous donation to the rebuild of France consisting of several billion dollars in government bonds. The author doesn't seem to understand that this isn't really generous, since it means that Stefón wants the money back later. Plus interests.
  • The Discworld has given some thought to the economic structure of a fantasy world, later a Steampunk world with fantasy overtones. Even the very first book The Colour of Magic, has a sequence where a savvy ruler patiently asks a rather dim Wizzard what he thinks will happen if vast amounts of gold are released into the economy of Ankh-Morpork all at once. The idea of reflected-noise-as-of-goblins-in-cavernnote  is introduced into the fantasy world, and is discussed with accuracy and clarity.
    • Also in the first book, a clueless visitor offers to sell an insurance policy for a bar in Ankh-Morpok. He does not account for the possibility of insurance fraud. It is explained to him by the building immediately burning down.
    • Later books discuss the economics of the Discworld in greater detail. Making Money is quite possibly an exposition of how a country's monetary system should be organised and how it works, disguised as a satirical comic novel.
    • Fans have actually analysed, from clues in the novels re wages and prices, how Ankh-Morpork would work, economically. It all stacks up surprisingly well.
  • Michael Crichton's novel Rising Sun is accused of using the "exporting is good, importing is bad" misconception.
  • In a short story in the "Probability Zero" section of the Analog science fiction magazine, a primitive alien society discouraged greed by minting coins of refined uranium. Each (presumably very radiation-tolerant) alien stored his stash of coins in the basement, and if it accumulated too many, it was automatically removed from the gene pool. This is probably more a case of Artistic License – Physics, though.
  • In The Pillars of the Earth Ken Follett doesn't seem to know that no stonemason in the medieval world "lost his job". Crafts were guild-based, not capitalist; guilds protected their members from destitution, so a stonemason would no more be impoverished by losing one client than a modern lawyer would. And there are apparently no religious orders, godparents, or childless neighbors that will take in children whose parents cannot care for them. These are probably Rule of Straw Medievalism, though.
  • In the first book of the Pizza Lovers Mysteries series, the book's victim Richard Olsen is shown to have made constant deposits of the money he made from his blackmailing into his bank account, in payments of $9,999 dollars to avoid it being reported. In reality, such regular deposits would have incredibly suspicious to the bankers, as it would look like an obvious attempt to work around the reporting standard.
  • Sword of Truth:
    • The Imperial Order is an incredibly large empire with a massive standing army capable of sending millions of people hundreds of miles away to conquer the world, while operating under an economic system so ridiculous it should be incapable of supporting a single city, much less an army. Essentially, it combines all the motivation problems of communist economics with a culture that actively despises hard work. To put it succinctly, on the surface, the Order's economy is a communist-like "from each according to their ability, to each according to their need" system that wants to uplift humanity by putting everyone on a level playing field without the elites or the privileged calling the shots. In practice, this has led to Tall Poppy Syndrome becoming institutionalized. Anyone, even those who are shown to work harder than others or have a talent in a trade, are hammered down. Those who have a need, or can show a disadvantage, have first dibs on things like collective housing and food, in order to help the less fortunate and put them on even footing with their more fortunate neighbors. This has led to a culture-wide race to the bottom where work, ambition, and effort is actively punished and claiming hardship or disability is the best way to get goods on the dole. The Order's capital city is shown to be a festering mire where buildings decay for want of people to build and fix them and the population queue to food lines or plead their misfortunes to committees for welfare charity, stewing in their own misery because they've been taught to believe that there is nothing they can (or even should) do to improve their station or their lot in life. Which brings us back to the question of how in such a system could they possibly support a professional army of millions, feeding them, clothing them, arming them, and transporting them to war?
      • The trope is averted by means of hypocrisy at one point. During his time in the capital, Richard learns to take advantage of this system by finding Order officials who have been directed to complete work on a new palace for the Emperor, but are very well aware that their hired labor will just claim disability and put in only as much effort as they can get away with. Richard cuts through the red tape and offers to get them the supplies they need through a Chain of Deals. The officials know full well that such behavior is against their tenets, but excuses on delay of the construction won't be tolerated, so when Richard offers to get them what they need, they basically pay him under the table while looking the other way. Deals begat deals, and by the time it's said and done, Richard, by sheer dint of being the only source willing and able to provide on demand, has a monopoly on the ironworks trade in the city, becomes immensely wealthy, and has singlehandedly pushed forward construction of the palace months ahead of schedule. He even uses the system against itself; he technically has an assigned job as an ironmonger, where his delivery business is more or less just a side hustle, but he has all the time he needs by basically calling in sick from his day job for days at a time. His boss doesn't complain, because he owns all the iron that Richard is selling in back alleys for immense profit. He eventually gets caught up by the Order's priesthood and thrown in prison where his recitation of ideological cant doesn't get him out of trouble, but that's neither here nor there.
    • The Palace of Prophets gives all of its wizards unlimited quantities of gold, encourages them to spend it freely and have sex with local women, and if they get pregnant gives them lots more gold note  . This has been going on for hundreds of years, and does not seem to have had any effect on the value of gold.
  • Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern uses a bizarre form of competing currencies in the form of "marks", disks made of wood, which are supplied as blanks by one Hold (the territory equivalent of a country) and stamped with both denominations -ranging from 1/32 of a mark to 100 mark pieces- on one side and source -where the stamped mark hails from. However, each Hall (a type of Crafting guild, 10 in all) and each Hold (over 20 worldwide) has their own special and specific source stamp. The value of these marks has been shown, in canon, to vary on the cultural popularity of the Hall or Hold they hail from. In the first novel of the series HarperCraft marks were worthless, as Harpers were seen as trifling entertainers instead of educators. So in a way, it's not so different from global currencies today, but it's very badly defined, as any individual can refuse coinage from a source they just don't happen to like at the time, and completely up in the air as to what values can be ascribed to anything (when 1 mark can buy 1/8th of a cow, 192 hand-sized pies, or 1 whetstone, whereas musical instruments and riding horses start at 2 and 9 (and custom tack is 12) marks respectively, something is off.
    • The theory here is sound (a "mark" represents a promise of X amount of goods or services from the issuer), and is similar to many historic and modern "private currencies". The problem lies entirely in the books' descriptions.
    • Some of the price discrepancies may be due to the relative scarcity of goods on Pern. Until the Southern Continent was reopened in the books, wood was a lot more rare, since the Northern Continent is mostly rocky and mountainous. This was especially the case up until the long Interval that ended during the first book, since the Dragonriders kept a very tight control on the amount of greenery they had to protect before then. Even in later books, wooden furniture is considered a luxury item; most people make do with stone. Metal of all kinds have always been very rare on Pern, that's one of the reasons it appealed to the back-to-nature colonists who wanted to set up Pern as an agrarian society. That's probably why marks are made of wood; metal's too valuable to waste on coinage.
  • Invoked in The Pale King, during Chris's description of the new tax laws in Chicago in 1978. Since the amount of taxes that needed to be paid were determined by the amount you spent per transaction, people did their shopping by buying one item at a time. The resulting lines and traffic are horrendous, and the governor loses his job over it.
  • A strange, and amusing, example occurs in The Lost Hero. King Midas (yes that King Midas) is bankrolling the Big Bad's efforts by...turning things lying around his mansion into gold and selling them to investors, thereby lowering the inherent value of said gold and making the price drop.
  • The 1930s SF novel Ein Stern fällt vom Himmel ("A Star Falls From The Sky") by Hans Dominik: When a fallen meteorite rich in gold is discovered, a secret government conspiracy springs into existence to quietly mine the impact crater and allow those governments to return to a gold currency. In the novel, it works. However, this ignores that the total worldwide gold supply still has increased quite significantly by the end of it and that all favorable psychological factors aside, it'd still be silly to expect millions of people to trade in one form of money for another just so they can then sit on the latter while still being out of the former.
  • In M.Y.T.H. Inc In Action the kingdom of Possiltum's expansion campaign enjoys massive popular support because the people have been led to believe that a wider tax base will decrease their individual taxes. It's only late in the novel that it's pointed out the extra layers of bureaucracy will cancel out any increased revenue from new taxpayers.
  • In The Leonard Regime any money that exists has become a currency for use solely within the black market, somehow making it even more valuable than before.
  • Shows up in American Gods of all places, where the narration dismisses the term "Information Age" and insists that all of history could be accurately described as an Information Age since information has always been one of the most important resources. But most of what that term actually refers to is a rise in the availability of information, not its value (and where the rising value of the latter is merely symptomatic of the rise of the former).
  • Played for Laughs several times in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series:
    • In the first book, the planet-makers of Magrathea are said to have been so successful at selling custom planets that they bankrupted the galactic economy. Ford Prefect even calls Magrathea a fairy tale that mothers tell their children when they want them to grow up to be economists.
    • In the second book (and the secondary phase of the radio play on which it is based), the "Shoe Event Horizon" is presented as the moment in which a planet's population has become so obsessed with the buying of shoes that no other business is economically feasible, causing economic and societal ruin. One species responded to this by evolving into birds who have no need for shoes.
    • The Golgafrinchams who settle Earth decide to adopt leaves as legal tender. This of course creates a massive problem of inflation where several forests are required to buy a single peanut. In order to try and revalue the leaf they start burning down all of the forests in the area.
    • There's also mention of several completely useless currencies. The Flanian Pobble Bead, which is only exchangeable for other Flanian Pobble Beads, and the Ningi which is a triangular coin 6800 miles on a side and thus far to large to be useable as a currency.
  • In The Lost Fleet, both the Alliance and the Syndicate have somehow managed to maintain a Total War Economy for decades as the result of a century-long war, something which extremely hard to establish and even harder to sustain if you want your society to remain functioning long enough to produce another generation of workers and soldiers, especially given that the average lifespan of the typical multi-million or billion credit warship used in the war was less than three years due to the frequent violent battles and poor tactics (Not to mention casualties on said destroyed ships tend to be at least half of the crew, causing a massive drain of manpower). Though to be fair, its strongly implied that both sides were reaching the limits of how long they could keep this up, and even if Geary hadn't managed to win the war, it would have ended within a decade as both economies collapsed. It's also mentioned that there have been occasional brief ceasefires that somehow never quite manage to turn into true peace talks, and that the whole war very nearly did grind to a halt because both sides were about to go bankrupt, but a sudden breakthrough in the development of the technology behind the hypernet gates revitalised their economies (both sides naturally claim the other side stole the tech from them) and enabled the war to continue. Captain Geary immediately points out that the timing was awfully convenient... It's not a coincidence. A third party are Playing Both Sides to keep the war going until they're both easy pickings for annexation.
  • The concept of Municipal Darwinism presented in Mortal Engines really doesn't make a lot of sense: you move a literally city-sized mass of people, buildings, and machinery around on wheels, burning god knows how much fuel per second, dealing with what must be staggering maintenance costs and trying to absorb unimaginable initial investments... All so you can steal some pitiful resources from smaller, less successful cities trying to do the same thing (a labor-intensive process that involves tearing apart lots of valuable infrastructure in the target city).
  • The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: Though some of the countries in Fantasyland do have a strong economy based on trade (contrasted with others which are very poor), it's left a mystery just how this works as bandits or pirates steal so many goods. Even after robbing it, they never seem to recirculate the wealth. So the real source of the wealth is unknown, most notably as no country seems to have industry of any kind. As a result, she concludes that their economy must be sustained by "tourists" coming from our world.
  • The Courtship of Princess Leia: Han wins a planet in a pot of cards worth 2.4 billion credits. Luke's speeder got 2,000 credits at a used car lot (for a maximum of 1 credit to $10 US equivalent). An inhabitable planet is worth $16 billion? Even for one under imperial interdiction, that means Bill Gates could purchase 3 planets! The estimated price of Earth is 10 QUADRILLION. This is also ignoring the fact that Han started the novel with an amount of money that is unspecified, but certainly no more than the cost of his Millennium Falcon, so assuming he leveraged that at a starting bid, he went from owning 100k-1M credits to nearly 2B credits. What luck to increase your net worth by 3-10 orders of magnitude in one night. Still, it's possible that the price is relatively low as A) its full of Force witches, making "ownership" useless and B) in Warlord Zsinj's territory, so you couldn't do anything with it even without them being there. Really though, Han should have realized it was off.
    • There's also an issue of supply to consider. We in the real world have only one planet. It costs as much as all of our combined value put together because it's literally the only place we can keep our stuff. A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of inhabitable (if not necessarily inhabited) worlds, where a good-sized fortune probably could buy you your own celestial body if you're not too picky about location or what condition it's in. True, the population of the Star Wars universe is spread over most of the known galaxy, meaning more demand for real estate, but the fact that there is more than one inhabitable planet means that buying one will cost less than the relative equivalent of all the wealth in existence.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: As a writer, journalism major, and amateur reader of history, Martin knows basically nothing about even basic economic principles. It shows.
    • Supposedly knowledgeable characters treat Robert and Littlefinger's massive spending as a detriment to a realm, with Ned in particular citing the lack of gold in the royal vaults (as opposed to when Aerys ruled) as evidence of Robert's mismanagement. In real life, loaning and investing money is what a government is supposed to do, and keeping everything locked up is simply wasting it. Robert's investments had a demonstrably great return (Littlefinger increased the crown's incomes ten-fold, King's Landing is more prosperous than ever a mere decade after Tywin brutally sacked it, the Royal Fleet is back to over a hundred war galleys and tens of thousands of men after it got wiped out by a storm a decade earlier and further reduced in the Greyjoy Rebellion, maritime trade is booming to the extent that Stannis can seize hundreds of traders' ships on short notice at the secondary port of Dragonstone), and the debt he accumulated was explicitly not enough that he couldn't easily pay it off (it's stated in the fourth book that payments were still being made on time even in the middle of the brutal continent-wrecking War of the Five Kings), so really, he's the most economically competent king Westeros ever had.
      • There are hints in the third book that the debt of the Kingdom is actually more due to Littlefinger's embezzlement than Robert's spending, but this just raises an additional question of "Where *is* the money?" if this theory is true (for Littlefinger to be the main culprit instead of Robert, by definition over half of the crown's debt would have to be in his possession)? Littlefinger spends most of his time traveling between regions in the middle books, we've seen his very modest and tiny home, and it's reasonable to say that he doesn't have the full amount in actual coin. It's not impossible to pull off, but the answer would have to be something like "Littlefinger has deposited the money into HUGE financial institutions that can afford to store it (probably the Iron Bank) so he isn't carting around half a room's worth of Promissory Notes from thousands of borrowers that all point to his name personally as the recipient". Not to mention the fact that in a Feudal society like Westeros, most wealth would be tied up in physical assets like land as opposed to more liquid items.
    • Speaking of loans, a debt of <2 million gold dragons (net) over 15 years to the Iron Bank is treated as a significant burden. Not only does this totally ignore the massive positive effects on the crown's credit of making 15 years of consistent payments, it's also not consistent with previous figures given: Robert could afford to casually give away 100,000 gold dragons as a reward for a jousting tournament, yet a mere twenty times that is supposedly a big deal for a continent to pay off.
    • The gold dragon in general arbitrarily changes value depending on the chapter. A mercenary fleet under Sallador Saan (29 ships and thousands of men) costs Stannis 30,000 a month to operate, and yet Anguy the archer manages to spend 20,000 in a couple weeks on whores, booze, a nice pair of boots and a good dagger. In the fourth book, a point is made that an innkeeper is auctioning off her daughter's virginity for a single gold dragon, and the (sleazy and somewhat pathetic) point of view character views this as a steep price that he commits embezzlement to acquire, and no one else has managed to pay. One estimate would place this as an exchange rate of somewhere between one to ten thousand USD per gold dragon, which would mean that Anguy spent could have spent upwards of about an absurd $200 million USD in a couple of weeks on booze and whores (who show no measurable signs of increasing in wealth in the next couple of books), and even the bottom range of $20 million seems unreasonably high for just a couple of weeks. The largest consensus is that the tournament prizes are just way too high, but that runs into the problem that the prizes have to be a comparable measure to the crown's outstanding debt of 6 million dragons, an amount that makes Ned gasp out loud, which in this $10k per gold dragon top range puts the debt at only a measley $60 billion USD. So, there is no really good way to translate the economy, and regardless of the exchange rate no way to explain how someone like Sandor or Anguy are carting around all of their winnings in actual coins.
    • The Twins are supposed to have made the Freys very wealthy, due to giving them the only overland route to the North, ostensibly a major trade node. Ignoring the North's lack of tradeable goods due to its poverty or the fact that it's a thousand miles through taiga and swamp from the Twins until you reach the nearest city, a miniscule amount of trade in the medieval era took place by land (less than 10%), so control over this point should really offer the Freys very little.
    • Tywin Lannister is somehow the richest man in Westeros because he owns many gold mines and has produced vast quantities of gold for literally generations, and yet he has more objective wealth than Mace Tyrell, who controls a population three times as large and produces most of the realm's food, in a world where winters can last for years and where storing vast amounts of food for winter is the difference between life and death. The Lannisters also never seem to suffer the logical consequences of churning out limitless amounts of gold for over a thousand years, which would be hyperinflation and a drop in value of said gold (cf. the result of the Spanish stumbling across an effectively infinite supply of silver in the form of the New World).
    • Slaver's Bay sustains itself by buying slaves, training them, and reselling them. Given that they must pay for at least a decade of the slave's shelter and provisions, this is completely impossible—particularly for the Unsullied, which are raised from childhood and have an 80% death rate in training. What's worse, the area they live in is explicitly unsuitable for farmland due to the wars with Valyria and their dragons, giving them no crops other than a few olive groves that immediately get destroyed in scorched-earth warfare.
  • The Quintessential Mary-Sue: It should be impossible for Mary-Sue to become rich without providing meaningful goods or services, let alone earn more money than exists in the world. Of course, she is a Sue.
  • The obscure Tokyopop book Karma Club features an economic system where you get money every time you perform a good deed and lose money every time you do something bad. There appears to be no limit on how much a person can accrue. As such, everyone basically can print money. Yet, there doesn't seem to be a system in place to remove money from the economy (aside from penalizing for bad deeds), since taxes are never mentioned and businesses are privately owned (which is a plot point). Thus, the money supply is ever increasing, which should make it worthless.
  • I'm the Evil Lord of an Intergalactic Empire!: Early in the story, Liam captures a Black Box that can turn junk into rare metals, which essentially lets Liam print money for himself and his feudal holdings. He abuses it so much that it ought to cause serious inflation, but this never occurs to anyone.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Arrow, Isabel Rochev manipulates Oliver into making her acting CEO of Queen Consolidated so that she can impoverish his family by making all their stock in the company worthless. This would never work, for the simple reason that the Queens are the majority stockholders in the company, so Oliver can remove her as CEO, and will likely have the support of the rest of the stockholders once it becomes obvious that she's ruining the company. Also, the only way to render all the Queens' stock worthless would be to so badly manage the company that it became valueless, which she can't do without both getting removed as CEO very quickly and ruining her reputation in the business world, which at that time she still valued, to say nothing of devaluing all the stock she herself had bought. On top of all of that, it is extremely unlikely that the Queens would have no other assets other than their stock in the company. At the very least, it is likely that they would own their palatial mansion outright.
  • In Auction Kings, the Garrett brothers in particular seem to have no problem buying a couple hundred dollars worth of stuff in Michigan and then driving it all the way to Atlanta, Georgia to sell it. Even when they make a profit, the transit costs and auction fees would eat up much of the profit. Though the fact that transit fees at least are probably tax-deductible business expenses probably helps.
    • Ironically enough, the above comment makes some of the same mistakes as the titular trope: Most legitimate business expenses are tax deductible, especially the larger ones like salaries, rent, cost of items purchased for resale, etc. It's mostly many Meals & Entertainment expenses that are non-deductible (along with illegal expenses like bribes and kickbacks), and most other variances are when the expenses could be considered deductible (lots of tax incentives like to give accelerated depreciation that allows you to recognize the full cost of an item NOW to reduce your taxes for the current year at the trade-off of paying higher taxes in later years). And saving money on taxes from having higher expenses is like being happy that you pay less taxes on making $8 an hour compared to $30.
  • Bones: (Then-) Invincible Villain super-hacker Christopher Pelant forces Hodgins to choose between saving some children (who were going to be killed via an Attack Drone that Pelant had hacked) and stopping Pelant from draining his millions of dollars from his accounts (to be used for further evil). Hodgins chooses to save the kids, but he should have been able to do both. It's not like Pelant's bank would have just put millions of dollars into a duffel bag for him to carry out of there; the money exists electronically, it isn't physically gone. In reality, all Hodgins would have had to do was call up his bank and say, "I did not authorize those transfers, put my money back." If need be, he could have gone in person to prove he was him. In fact, the bank probably should not have done the transfers to begin with. If you were running a bank, wouldn't you be suspicious of a transaction that involved a rich man giving every penny he had to another guy?
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Vengance on Varos" is set on the universe's only known source of the priceless metal zeiton-7. At the end of the story, an alternative source is found, driving the price up. Not down as it would in real life.
    • "The Long Game": The Doctor gives Adam a credit stick containing "unlimited credit", credits being the currency of the Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire. However, this may have been a result of the Doctor tampering with the stick rather than something normally possible.
    • "Voyage of the Damned" features a cruise ship of Human Aliens from the planet Sto, which apparently has some major economic problems. A couple claims that they'll never be able to pay off the 5000-credit debt they ran to get their tickets. At the end of the episode, the Doctor establishes a firm conversion rate: about 50 credits per British pound, or US$1.60. This occurs during the same night.
  • Fargo: In season five, Indira Olmstead is deep in debt. Lorraine Lyon, who is in the debt business, narrates Indira's difficulties, saying that her "interest rates" always go up, putting her deeper in debt. Interest rates actually go up and down based on the vicissitudes of the economy. Lorraine probably means "interest" rather than "interest rate." The rate at which Indira accrues interest would generally be fixed by the terms of her various loans, but the amount of interest Indira accrues would always go up if she's unable to pay her bills.
  • The Handmaid's Tale: Gilead having risen out of a devastating war, being deep in a fertility crisis too, with a completely restructured society, having thousands if not millions of people dead or living in exile and facing international sanctions by the UN, seems to be doing just fine.
  • Mission: Impossible:
    • One episode had the team infiltrate a group of neo-Nazis who had a Swiss Bank Account showing the location of a cache of Nazi Gold which they intended to use to create a "Fourth Reich." Aside from the immense improbability of this (the Nazis didn't plan for failure), and the overwhelming likelihood that the gold would be confiscated, it takes more than a few (hundred) million dollars of stolen gold to take over a country and restart a movement that in the popular mind is now synonymous with pure evil.
    • And yet they thought it was believable enough to not only make it, but remake it for the later MI series. The plot in one episode of the original series, where a banker was plotting on flooding an African country with well-made forgeries and a lot of them, makes more sense, both from the money and economic standpoint. Another one had a man making enough high-grade forgeries of a nation's currency to purchase the entire gold reserve of a nation that was presumably on the gold standard, which makes sense so long as the world can honestly believe that a nation on the gold standard would have enough currency in open circulation that one person could plausibly accumulate enough of it to do this without there being an obvious shortage of said currency everywhere else in the world.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: Brilliantly spoofed. Dennis Moore is a parody agglomeration of all the old folk heroes who "robbed from the rich and gave to the poor". He did so well he bankrupted the aristocrats but kept trying to rob them. As he said: "Blimey, this redistribution of the wealth is more complicated than I imagined." The sketch ends with him attempting a one-man vigilante ... progressive income tax.
    Dennis Moore: Now. I've got a tiara ... you've got one... you've got one of the boxes... you've got one... anyone else got a tiara? Take your hat off! (passenger does so to reveal a tiara)... Oh, honestly, it's absolutely pointless trying to do this if you're going to cheat. It really is awful of you.
  • Oobi: in the, "Shopping!" episode, the characters only have to pay four coins (the actual value of these coins is vague, but they look like quarters) for a whole shopping cart of fruit.
  • The Outer Limits (1963): In an episode, a group of scientists talk about harvesting rare minerals from an asteroid. One scientist remarks how this would wipe out poverty and the others agree. This would only work if the minerals were useful in themselves, e.g. in eliminating certain human or animal diseases that lead to poverty.
  • Renegade: Invoked Trope, when Reno infiltrates a town of only a few people he suspects of being robbers, and asks them how they make money. The leader says he buys stuff, and the other people buy it from him. The skeptical look on Reno's face is hilarious.
  • Revolution: The lack of an even small scale industrialized economy notwithstanding, the Monroe Republic doesn't even seem to have an official currency. However, we've only seen how the lower classes live; there may be currency in use by the elites. Medieval societies (and pre-modern or modern societies experiencing an economic downturn) often used this system, with barter for goods and services being the main form of exchange for the masses. But then, there have been several references to gold being a valuable commodity and presumably a medium of exchange. However, the episodes "Home" and "The Love Boat" show that there is a form of currency in the Monroe Republic, and that's giving pieces of diamonds to people.
  • Sliders: Has an episode featuring a world where all economic troubles are solved by allowing anyone who wishes to withdraw as much money as they want from ATMs in exchange for increasing the odds of winning a lottery. The catch? It's a Lottery of Doom, and winning it forces you to commit suicide! The point of the lottery was to keep the population small, and other than the lottery the world was portrayed as a utopia.
  • Star Trek: The Federation is explicitly a post-scarcity utopia that does not use money, with citizens working only to "better themselves." However, the franchise provides very few details about how this actually works. Like, without money or coercion, how do you get enough people to do disagreeable or tedious jobs? Are all those people waiting tables working to "better themselves?" The Federation is shown to engage in trade with other nations, so it does need to manage its resources. How does it do so without some means of exchange, both internally and externally? Some things could simply never be replicated at will, like a particular house in a particular location or seats at a particular show on a particular night, so what decides who gets what? The existence of Federation "credits" is occasionally referenced, but without ever going into detail about how they fit into an explicitly monelyless society. Specific instances of the trope throughout the franchise include:
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
      • This show introduces the concept that the standard currency of the Alpha Quadrant is gold-plated latinum, a substance that cannot be replicated. How the Federation uses or deals with latinum is never fleshed out.
      • The station has a thriving marketplace, but the details on how they conduct business are sketchy. Federation citizens are often shown partaking in the goods and services provided by merchants, most or all of them from outside the Federation. Quark's bar definitely charges latinum, so where are our cast members getting it to pay him? Jake is often shown drinking at Quarks, yet he also asserts that as a Federation citizen, he has no money.
      • They never quite explain how Sisko's father is running a restaurant on Earth. Even assuming his food is superior to whatever his customers can get out of a replicator, do they pay him for it? Is it more of a hobby, like the Picard family's wine, and he just gives finished meals away to people who would enjoy them? Does his staff receive anything in return for serving and bussing tables? One episode shows Capt. Sisko in the alley behind the restaurant shucking clams. This would imply that they're real clams (or else why didn't his dad replicate clams that were already shucked?), which raises even more questions. While it's possible that Sisko's father prefers real clams to replicated ones, who did he get the clams from, and was that person compensated for their efforts and how?
      • In "Starship Down", Quark gets into an argument with a Karemma trade representative after the latter caught him making up fake expenses to increase his profit margin. Minister Hanok states that the Karemma price their goods as production and shipping expenses + predetermined profit margin. While "cost-plus" contracting does sometimes work this way, it's not how prices are determined in the normal market economy: in reality businesses charge whatever they can feasibly get their customers to pay. Though there's a built-in justification: given they're members of the Dominion, which is run by congenital control freaks, it's likely that the Karemma are in fact not doing business in a market economy, but rather a command economy more like the Soviet Union.
  • The Tribe: Tries to institute an economy by having each vendor receive a loan of ten tokens at the start of the day to kickstart the system, and is expected to pay them back at the end of each day, and gets to keep the profit. To keep the system fair, the Mallrats also fix the price in tokens of each commodity. The system may be justified as the Mallrats are a bunch of kids with only the vaguest understanding of how economies work, but the fundamental premise seems to be that if you start out with a fixed amount of money, and just move it back and forth all day, at some point, it will magically reproduce.
    • If the Mallrats have invented the concepts of lending and debt as well as profit, then money sort of DOES magically reproduce. Say someone who only has nine tokens at the end of the day borrows a token from someone with eleven tokens on the promise that he will pay the other person back the next day. This second system of "private loans" would exist outside the "normal" system in what is effectively an early form of "reserve banking", thus increasing the total money supply.
  • Gilligan's Island has the Howells, who still are able to rely on their wealth to get out of labor. Despite the McDuckian piles of cash in their hut, having a lot of money doesn't mean a lot for seven people stuck in a dire situation. Even believing that the Howells would repay them once they got back to civilization would wear thin eventually. Usually, it's the Skipper who tries to get them to work, but the scene often ends on a joke, with no lessons learned. Arguably, it could be that the Howells are too old and never worked a day in their lives so they wouldn't know how, but it isn't until the Broke Episode that everyone tries to teach them. (Luckily, it was Powell Industries that went under. Though Mr. Howell doesn't seem concerned about the impact the mistaken announcement would have on his company's stocks.)

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • Calvin opens a lemonade stand in the dead of winter ("It has natural refrigeration!") for a stupidly high price. When he doesn't get any customers he decides the solution is to raise the price even further so he can become profitable more quickly. Note
    • Another case was when he started taking selling lemonade too seriously. His price is, again, stupidly high (fifteen bucks), which he justifies by having to appease his "stockholders" (himself) and pay "employee benefits" (for himself). When Susie points out that he's not even selling lemonade, but rather a pitcher of "sludge water" with a lemon in it, his response is "I'd have to charge more if I followed health regulations" and "I have to cut expenses SOMEwhere if I want to stay competitive". This is all Played for Laughs and, sure enough, nobody buys from him.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Jeff Foxworthy used this in one of his early stand up routines. He was, as a young man, so broke that his bank sent a collections agent to take his car unless Jeff paid them $500. Jeff, naturally, didn't have $500 on him, even ridiculing the idea that someone would carry that much money, which led to this:
    Collection Guy: Well, you can't write me a check?
    Young Jeff: No I can't... a check? Hell yeah, I can write you a check! I thought you needed money! Tell you what, I'm going to go ahead and pay the whole thing off, right now.
    Jeff: [aside] I'm going to be a Congressman when I grow up.
    • In his book in which he describes this event, he then points out the very real consequences: he writes a bad check, hides his car for a few weeks, and then gets caught back up on his payments before the bank is able to find the car again and repossess it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Tabletop role playing games in general are extremely vulnerable to this due to economics outside the party usually not being the focus of the game design and Combinatorial Explosion setting in: Since there's no engine limitation on what the PCs can or can't do, any imbalance in the economic system can be exploited. The usual result is an informal agreement about not abusing the most blatantly illogical parts, enforced by the moderator(s) if anyone does something game-breaking.
    • Older games justify this with the player characters not being professional merchants (or being too busy with the adventure to use more than the most basic of merchant skills) and the prices and variation in the manual being what a customer can expect for small-volume purchases and transactions.
    • Newer games written with the trope in mind tend to be Aversions by enforcing the above mechanically. If you're just buying a widget, look up widgets in table "Widget prices". If you're attempting to make a profit off of buying and selling widgets, your actions have an actual impact on the market, so instead roll against your "day trading" skill and look up how much profit you're making per day. Still a simplification, but one that addresses the usual specific complaint.
  • Gary Gygax lampshaded that the economic system of 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons didn't work, particularly with all the gold and jewels being taken into or out of the economy at different times, but it was justified due to Rule of Cool: namely, it was just plain more impressive for the players to obtain large amounts of gold than copper. Not that this prevented many player characters from going after the copper and silver coins too...
    • Later editions still have quirks. Famously, in 3.5 edition, a 10 foot ladder is cheaper than 2 10 foot poles. In fact, it's perfectly profitable for players to employ laborers (whose daily salary is less than the profit made on a single ladder-to-poles conversion) to do this all day. Similarly, a spiked chain is cheaper than the same length of normal chain. Players could generate as much money as they needed just by being in the business of hiring laborers to craft these items all day long... except that also ignores economic truths about the supply exceeding the demand and driving the profit margin down, which a sensible Dungeon Master will quickly slap down to rule that Player Characters cannot abuse the fixed item values that way.
    • Labor seems to also be slightly out of proportion to physical goods and food, as typical manual labor costs are 2 silver a day, barely enough to feed the people and give them a spot on the floor of the worst slum in town. Apparently, all labor consists of malnourished (and nearly naked) beggars. Even worse, most places the PCs visit tend to assume relatively stable employment rates (PCs aren't usually bombarded with descriptions of vast hordes of unemployed laborers just sitting around when they enter town, and most feudal economies have most peasants tied to the land and therefore gainfully employed). So, 2 silver a day would be considered the attractive price to lure otherwise employed people from doing whatever they were previously doing to work for the player characters instead.
    • An article in an early-90s issue of Dragon discussed how to make a more realistic-looking (looking, mind, which even the author admitted to) economic situation by exploring real historic currencies, including making silver the dominant high-value coinage instead of gold. Platinum was thrown out of consideration entirely as it was not considered a precious metal (or even particularly well known) before the 1700s.
    • The "15 million gold per day trick", where a mage creates a huge block of iron, turns that block into daggers, and sells them for the price marked in the gamebook.
    • Some D&D campaign authors have tried to do economics consistently within the game's stated rules. This leads to unusual outcomes, such as high level wizards taking over sheep ranching and enforcing a monopoly to ensure that they can get enough parchment for spell books while keeping prices high enough to make the magic work.
  • The steel-based currency in D&D Dragonlance doesn't really make sense - you can end up with situations where a steel sword, if melted and forged into coins, would be worth more than its original cost (e.g. say the sword cost 10 coins. By melting it down you could get enough steel to forge 15 coins). Beyond that, currency typically uses items that don't have practical value. A world where steel is more valuable would be less likely to use steel for coins, not more, especially a pre-industrial setting where manufacturing steel is a long, difficult process. Steel currency would be more appropriate in a setting where war ended and a plethora of existing weapons and armor meant that the best purpose for steel would be to melt it down and make money out of it. And on top of everything else, steel rusts, which means that if you want to keep a large collection of currency stored away for a long period of time it will start to diminish, which gold and silver aren't subject to.
  • Pathfinder, derived from Dungeons and Dragons 3rd edition, did fix some of the most blatant economic issues present, notably adjusting the price of ladders and 10-foot poles, and specifying that the iron created from a Wall of Iron spell would simply crumble and rust apart and couldn't be reforged. It still has some issues, very notably with the price adjustments for certain rare materials used in crafting, like mithril and adamantium. Specifically, the price modification for an adamantium weapon was a flat +3,000gp increase to cost, no matter if it was a dagger or a greatsword. Barring some GM handwavery, you could get an adamantium greatsword, melt it down (or reshape with magic) into adamantium daggers, and sell for massive profits.
  • Rolemaster's coinage hierarchy used to place tin coins below copper. If you assume an earth-type world, tin is rare and expensive - it's the fraction that makes bronze so much more expensive than iron/steel.
    • And to add insult to injury, Bronze Pieces are worth more than Copper Pieces in the same coinage hierarchy.
  • Old World of Darkness:
    • One book describes in great length how the extremely long-term strategic planning of centuries-old vampiric masterminds make US and European companies competitive against Japanese ones. Whether it's an economic Fail or not is dependent on how rigid that long-term plan is, and a key thing to remember is that a business run by immortals is likely to be more patient about returns than one held by mortals. In theory, there should be less emphasis on small short-term gains at the expense of larger long-term ones.
    • A less arguable fail comes from Demon Hunter X, where the Backers Background gives members of Strike Force 0 a daily allowance. At five dots, that allowance is... a thousand yen. This is roughly ten US dollars. At minimum, this needs three more zeroes, especially since that allowance is primarily for bribes.
  • Legend of the Five Rings, being based on feudal Japan and China, has a rice-based economy where one gold (koku) is the equivalent to the amount of rice one man will eat in a year. Or possibly what one family will eat in a year. There's some confusion as to which. Also, the exchange rate between gold, silver and copper coins means that even the smallest denomination of money in Rokugan is a fairly vast fortune. The handwave given is that it is beneath a samurai's station to be concerned with money, and that there is a sizable merchant class to deal with such matters. The Hand Wave in later editions is that the value of currency has significantly inflated in the past few centuries, and it now takes somewhere from 12 to 15 koku to feed a man for a year. This dramatically cheapens raw gold, but it brings the price of food in line with the price of everything else.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Da Orks actually use their teeth as money. Disgusting, and also guarantees high inflation since they keep growing back their teeth like sharks, although the teeth do degrade with time (meaning Freebootaz who hide chests of teef on deserted asteroids are going to be very disappointed if they ever get back to them). The Bad Moonz clan are among the richest of orks because they have a mutation that causes their teeth to grow faster, although any other ork can redistribute the wealth with a solid punch in the mouth. They also have a barter economy in weaponry and "shiny fingz" (which can be traded for each other) and squigs (weird fungus-animal hybrids that can serve as pets, ammo, hair plugs and everything in between, orks never get why humans aren't interested in trading for them). Not to mention perpetual war that guarantees consumption too high to leave any surplus for investment. Of course, given we're talking about the orks here, orkonomics probably works much like their notion that "da red wunz go fasta": the orks collectively think it ought to, so it does. There are occasional hiccups when some Ork whiz-kid develops a method for perpetually preserving teef; this doesn't cause too much trouble, though, because it's hard to imagine what could make Ork society more chaotic and unstable than having Orks in it already does.
    • 40k's Spin-Off tabletop roleplaying games sidestep the usual problems with money in other RPGs by leaving it out entirely. Dark Heresy 2nd Edition, for example, uses a Requisition mechanic where characters make a check modified by their Commerce skill that all by itself represents the difficulty of finding and buying a given item; beating the d100 difficulty by a "degree of success"note  or more gets you a better-quality version of the item. This is justified by the decentralized nature of the Imperium: interstellar trade is difficult enough that every locale has its own market conditions and it's borderline impossible to set up a unified currency.
  • Avalon Hill's 1830:
    • The way the game worked was that, when a railroad had its initial public offering, or float, the first share sold was the President's share and was worth two regular shares, and the player who bought it controlled the company. The company did not go into business, however, until a majority of the shares had been sold, all of which had to be sold at the initially offered value. Once the company had started operating, its share price could fluctuate, meaning that if the price went up, you could realize an immediate gain by buying leftover IPO shares at the initial value, even though they would immediately have the floating value. Obviously that makes no sense, since why would the company sell shares for less than their publicly traded value? Also, that's just not how IPO's work. In real life, obviously, there is no such thing as a President's share (although there is a device called a "supervoting share", where a class of shares in a company has disporportionate voting rights in it). Moreover, all issued shares will typically be sold in an IPO. If the shares do not all sell at their initial price, the price will fall until all issued shares have been sold.
    • The other big problem in the game was that a railroad's stock price was almost solely a function of its dividend policy. If it issued a dividend, the price went up, but if it retained its earnings, the stock price went down. That generally meant that it was impossible to continue expanding a railroad once its start-up capital was exhausted, at least not without killing the stock price. Needless to say, investors are not, as a class, that short-sighted. Corporations regularly retain earnings in order to expand, and investors generally like that, since it means that dividends will be higher later. Some investors are short-term players, but plenty are not. Expansion does not generally hurt a company's stock price; taking losses does. What stockholders do not like, aside from losses, obviously, is when a corporation sits on a lot of cash without either investing it in expansion or paying it out as dividends. That can often lead to a strike suit.
  • Battletech: Both fans and even the developers of tend to agree that the economic underpinnings of the Inner Sphere don't work: next-to-no commercial shipping and a pool of interstellar ships that is both too low to support robust trade and is dwindling, one major currency based on data transmission time, among many other deficiencies.
    • Special note goes to the Dasher II battlemech, which was noted as being sold below cost by Clan Diamond Shark in order to generate quick revenue. Obviously, selling a 'mech for less than it cost to make it would cause the Diamond Sharks to lose money. The mech was noted as being a real lemon, thanks to being twice the size of the orginal Dasher but having only marginally more armor and the same speed, combined with firepower that consisted of a mere six micro lasers, which are the smallest and weakest weapon a battlemech is capable of carrying. Possibly the mech's Technical Readout entry was intended to say that the Sharks had badly overestimated what the demand for the mech would be and were forced to sell at a loss in order to recoup some of the expenses of a large production run, which wouldn't have been the first time it happened in-universe.
  • Starfinder neatly deals with the issue by making crafting a matter of convenience than a money saver. Crafting requires materials equal to the cost of the item, but as long as you have the skill and a workshop on your ship you can make anything anywhere, which is handy if you are far, far away from any sort of store. The core rule book notes that businesses make a profit due to economy of scale.

  • Discussed in El Goonish Shive:
    Magus: I can totally hook you up with straw turned to gold.
    Sirleck: I'm already worth millions, and you'd just be devaluing gold in general if you made more.
  • In Homestuck, Dave alchemises the 'SORD.....', a weapon so shitty it actually generates artifact grist to make it. That's not an example of this trope, as obviously videogame economies don't have to resemble real-world economies in any way. What is an example of this trope exaggerated and played for laughs is the fact that post-scratch Dave apparently managed to do this in real life, creating products that were so crappy that he actually made money making them, and did this enough that he made himself rich.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Played for Laughs when a pair of potion sellers don't seem to get that by selling nothing but potions at less than the cost to make them, they are going to put themselves out of business. Vaarsuvius tries to explain the problem to them, but after realizing that nothing is getting through, the annoyed elf decides to take advantage of the sale they just announced.
    • These economics of Spellcasting are further mocked in a later strip when an apprentice caster proudly proclaims that she got a really good deal and paid below normal cost for a jar of rubies. Her master then points out that the spell they need to cast specifies the cost of the gems needed and not the amount. She therefore needs to go back and pay more before the spell will work.
    • Played with/Lampshaded in this strip, when the Order of The Stick come to a village, and the townspeople know what to do when adventurers arrive: gouge them for as much as they possibly can. That is to say, the inflated prices in the Players' Handbook are not what NPCs themselves pay, they're just what they charge the comparatively wealthy adventurers.
  • In Escape from Terra the United World tries to relieve its massive debt by annexing the anarcho-capitalist paradise Ceres. The Cereans initially attempt to turn it on the UW by presenting them a bill for 80 billion "Continentals" based on an estimate of all the social programs they would qualify for and public works projects they could benefit from, and stating that since they use gold as currency most business on Ceres would be "tax-exempt community barter" according to the tax code. The UW responds with warships.
  • An earlier "Big Head Press" comic, "The Probability Broach" has an alternate America with no taxes and thus a hovercar is worth only three weeks standard earnings and a decent-sized house can be paid off in six months. All because there's no taxes driving prices up. But really the lower wages of the workers who produce the products would cancel out the lower prices.
  • In Freefall, Mr. Kornada wants to become the richest person in the solar system. The scheme his robot minion comes up with would net him seven percent of the planet's total wealth... prompting Kornada to wonder aloud why he can't have the other 93 percent, too.
    Clippy: Sir, it's one thing to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. It's quite another to nuke the entire farm.

    Web Original 
  • The Irate Gamer in his I Rate the 80s series shows he has no idea how businesses work. He complained that Kool-Aid no longer sold gimmick flavors, wondering why they stopped, and hoping they bring them back. Not once considering that these flavors didn't sell compared to the more popular flavors.
  • Linkara and Lee from Still Gaming love pointing out the illogic of "collector's editions" of both comics and collectible cards, respectively. In short, people have a tendency to collect "first edition" or "collector's/limited edition" versions of certain items, believing that the label would automatically translate to "rare" and, thus, appreciate in value over time. This is also known as "Baseball Card Tuition Syndrome", as an infamous example (described by Lee) involved people gathering up baseball cards in the 70's and 80's, believing that they'd be able to pay for their kids' tuition in 20 years with them. The problem is a lack of understanding of supply and demand; most of the more expensive comics and cards out there were made in a day where it wasn't common to print them in the quantities they print them out, nowadays (hundreds of copies instead of hundred thousands), would not have very many copies in good condition still in existence, and are usually the first ever issues of world-famous characters (like Spider-Man or Batman). Sadly, the companies also know this and deliberately hype up the label of "collector's edition" to get more buyers. This kind of market eventually backfired with serious consequences. Once people realized they were buying worthless piles of paper, they stopped buying comics and comic companies suddenly had stockpiles of hundreds of thousands of comics they couldn't sell. This led to a huge comic book crash which the industry never fully recovered from. Another notable thing about why first editions of Action Comics #1 (the first appearance of Superman ever) comic sell for millions is that many of them were destroyed in paper drives in World War II, which meant only a handful survived in any readable condition at all.
  • This GoAnimate video has a Red Lobster shutting down and a Buffalo Wild Wings on the verge of closing because of Daisy's Blatant Lies and Insane Troll Logic driving away a few customers. Keyword here being "a few": big restaurants wouldn't close up shop because of that unless they were doing very poorly.
  • Puffin Forest: In "Black Market Blues", there is a town where both the local government and police force sanction the black market. It's the primary source of income for the town, yet the town council doesn't make it an open market "because then we'd lose the black market and nobody would make any money." When Ben points out the logical error in this, the town's Inquisitor tortures his wizard character. This makes even less sense the more context you get. The inquisitor is pissed because now that the players have brought the black market out into the open, the city will have to crack down on it, since they can't pretend to not notice anymore. That would mean the city didn't get any income from the market, since they couldn't officially acknowledge its existence. If the city didn't take any taxes, it couldn't have been the lifeblood, because the state would literally earn nothing from it. It would actually lose money, since the money that could have gone to a regular market, and then on to becoming tax money, instead went to the black market.
  • The setting outlined in this blog post has hydrocarbons (e.g. natural gas) being imported from Titan to Earth and Mars. It initially sounds plausible, since hydrocarbons are a valuable resource and Titan has an abundance of them. However, the energy needed to ship them over interplanetary distances would be far greater than the energy needed to just synthesize them: hydrocarbons can be synthesized using the Fischer-Tropsch process, which was invented in 1925.
  • The video "Timeline: If Kids Could Boss Their Parents" has a part of the video where it mentions that all of the kids could print an unlimited amount of money, yet the economy is not badly affected in any way. In real life, this would cause a worldwide hyperinflation and result in everyone becoming poorer, not richer like the video claims.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Family Guy episode, "Get Stewie", Brian claims he bought two tacos and a soda at Taco Bell for $1.67. Not in this century. He could have reasonably purchased one of those items for that amount.
  • Happens in the Van Beuren Felix the Cat short "The Goose that laid the Golden Egg", which starts with Felix handing out whole piles of gold coins to the poor, and the short ends with the entire town being flooded with countless loads of gold. Felix does not realize that creating that much gold would make it worthless as a result.
  • South Park
    • Parodied in "Canada on Strike" when Canada goes on strike and demands more money, specifically from the Internet, and completely ignores the people who try to explain that is not the way economics works.
    • Also parodied in ""Margaritaville" when Randy thinks that the only way to fix the economy is not just for people to stop wasteful spending that they can't afford, but for people to stop spending any money at all.
    • Not to mention the Underpants Gnomes in "Gnomes":
  • DuckTales (1987):
    • While Scrooge McDuck gets it right more often than not, there's one especially confusing episode showing an alternate future where the triplets ally with Magica DeSpell after Uncle Scrooge goes missing due to Time Travel. The entire economy was reversed, with employees paying the business they worked at. This could mean two things: since Magica was involved, we could just say, A Witch Did It; or taxes have been raised so high, such as "The Privilege of Working for Magica McDuck Enterprises Tax," that getting a paycheck is practically a moot point since all your money gets taken out. Honestly, it makes even less sense than other works on this page... where do the people get the money to have to pay her, let alone the money they, well, need for life? The only reasonable conclusion is that it's all just an overly complicated form of slavery, or the boys never QUITE gained enough political clout to end minimum wage laws, but they did manage to legalize kickbacks as a loophole to get around them.
    • Another episode has the boys take over the company while Scrooge is out of commission, and running the company into the ground. Then, they find out that child labor laws make it illegal for them to run a company, and so they reverse all the transactions they made. This includes people returning cars they'd bought, being refunded, and then disassembled into parts. What happened to the money paid for the labor to make the cars, and then disassemble them, is anyone's guess.
    • In another DuckTales (1987) episode, young Scrooge creates diamonds by having elephants stampede over coal. (This is also Artistic License – Physics, but if comic-book physics allowed diamonds to be created so easily they would be worthless).
    • One episode featured a duplication machine Gyro Gearloose made, which the triplets used to duplicate a coin. However, every time a bell rang, both the original and the copy would spontaneously duplicate again. Predictably, Duckburg is soon overflowing with duplicated coins, which are treated both as garbage and heavily inflated but legal tender. Eventually the protagonists discover that the copied objects will reach a breaking point and explode, so they trick the Beagle Boys into stealing all the copied money and putting it in a copied Money Bin where it can explode safely. (Well, safely for everybody but the Beagle Boys.) However, no further mention is made of the massive inflation on the local currency; the copied coins are identical to real ones, so the inflation would have affected normal money too. Even just a few days of hyperinflation would have caused untold changes.
  • The Simpsons:
    • The "America The Bankrupt" fallacy is parodied in the episode where Lisa becomes president. Not only does it have China (amongst other countries) demanding repayment, but Bart (who's grown up to be a deadbeat-not surprisingly) is able to use his own money-mooching skills to deflect them ("I totally remember mailing a check to you.")
    • Played straight in "Catch 'Em if You Can", in which Homer and Bart steal the credit cards of Ned and Rod Flanders, respectively. Not only are their credit card numbers the exact same, they're shown to have "Valid From 1/1" and "Good Thru 12/31" dates, which are the first and last days of the year. Credit cards only have a single expiration date, which indicates the month and year they expire at the end of (such as "06/30" meaning that your card expires in June 2030).
  • One episode of House of Mouse involves Professor von Drake inventing a special credit card that could "end poverty" by giving everyone in the world an effectively unlimited cash supply. It seems to exist solely so that the villain could steal the only one and... well, use it to do exactly what it was created for. None of the characters question the logic, despite the fact that such an "invention" would render the entire economy obsolete almost immediately.
  • The Rankin Bass Christmas special Jack Frost has a village that is completely penniless all year except for the winter, because they take the icicles and carve them into coins and thrive that season. This is... to say the least, not at all how anything works ever.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Gemstones. Most of the time, they are treated as worthless beyond their decorative purposes, as Rarity uses sometimes cartloads for her dresses, while dragons and the Diamond Dogs collect them for their beauty, and Spike eats them like candy. Then comes "Just For Sidekicks", when Spike convinces the Mane Six to pay him for petsitting while they're gone. You could assume they're just giving him worthless rocks they found, but then the second part requires him to give the gems away for various reasons (paying the Cutie Mark Crusaders to watch the pet for him, paying a 'boon' to Zecora, buying train tickets...) and suddenly gems are legal tender - the CMC even spends the thumbnail-sized gem Spike got from Rarity on an industrial-sized pet drier almost as large as their clubhouse! And yes, this is the gem that was in payment for watching a fussy cat for the day, and which he intended to bake into a cake. What makes this even stranger is that there is already an established currency in Equestria: gold coins, or "bits."
    • Although, bits aside, this economic model CAN work if you factor in dragons and their hoards. A first season plot centers around a dragon moving into a cave near Ponyville, and subsequent episodes have made it clear that dragons aren't exactly an endangered species. It would be safe to assume that dragons unwittingly serve as enforcers of scarcity by hoarding/eating gemstones.
  • In the ''Web of Spider-Man'' episode titled "Gold Rush!" the Beyonder innocently turns a whole building into gold in the middle of the night; the U.S. government however decides to keep it a secret and pay the Kingpin to forever keep the gold out of reach (i.e. secretly throw it into the ocean's depth) since its discovery by the public would supposedly destroy the world's economy. In reality, that would no more destroy the world economy than would a major gold strike in the mining industry. It would depress gold prices for a while, but since no one uses the gold standard anymore, it would have very little effect beyond that. Doesn't stop Spidey from swiping one item, a gold notepad, though; he just uses it to help pay off Aunt May's home to prevent it from being repossessed.
    • Similarly, an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had the turtles visiting the home world of an alien race of sentient turtles who planned to move to Earth to escape a monster menacing them. One of the reasons the Turtles seek to prevent them from doing this (by dealing with the monster themselves) is the fact that the alien turtles can manufacture gold and use it as a construction material; thus if they moved to Earth, the global economy would be "ruined"; again, gold prices would be depressed, but that's all.
  • One episode of Inspector Gadget had MAD seeking a formula that could turn lead to gold, which Penny feared would destroy the world's economy. As mentioned numerous times above, most of the world doesn't use gold-backed currencies, so this wouldn't actually happen. Though given the enormous amount of lead that Doctor Claw had been stockpiling in anticipation of his plan succeeding, if the formula had actually worked (All it really did was make the outside of a lead bar gold-colored), he would have ended up with enough gold to significantly distort its market value if sold all at once.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: Played for Laughs in one episode where Larry goes on strike. Since he worked most of the jobs in the town simultaneously, within 20 minutes runaway inflation kicks in and 4 pizzas cost $9,000 dollars, and $100 is worth next to nothing, and the whole town collapses.
  • Wild C.A.T.s (1994): In the final episode, Marlowe performs a hostile takeover of a competing business (for plot-related reasons) by having his company dump all its stock, causing other investors to panic and dump their own shares of the company, causing its value to plummet, at which point he buys a controlling share. First of all, this is blatant, highly illegal market manipulation. Second, buying a controlling interest in stocks in a hostile takeover doesn't instantly put you in control of it. And finally, all of this took place late at night, after the stock market was closed for the day so none of the transactions would have actually gone through until the next day anyway.

Anime and Manga
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: One of the three concrete laws alchemists must follow is that they are not allowed to transmute gold.note  This is for the simple and obvious reason that it would utterly wreck the economy if everyone just made limitless amounts of gold. The government logs and tracks all the gold produced by mining to ensure that nobody can produce their own gold without them noticing the sudden unaccounted surplus entering circulation. Ironic, considering one of the principle goals behind alchemy in real life was trying to produce gold from lesser metals.
  • Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic not only averts this — it's also made a cause in one of the Arc! The King of Balbadd adopted the Kou Empire's Currency system, which used paper money as opposed to their coin one, without having the market prepped for the introduction of this new currency — resulting in inflation rates that not only left a majority of the citizens destitute, but also fuels animosity towards the royal family and higher class (who ended up benefiting from this) to the point that the bad guys are able to incite a violent revolution against them. And what's worse — the King and the other nobles became so addicted to the currency and the lavish lifestyle that came with it that the King agreed to marry the Empire's Princess and was willing to sign a contract that used the citizens as collateral via slavery, just to get more money!
  • An apparently similar scenario appears in the segment of Katsuhiro Otomo's Memories entitled Cannon Fodder, which depicts a day in the life of a city devoted entirely to firing countless cannons at the unseen, possibly fictional "Moving Cities" of an unknown enemy, with the populace kept in line by an authoritarian government utilizing ubiquitous propaganda.
    • There's at least one real Moving City, the one protagonists live in, and we are shown only a small portion of its works. It is entirely possible for the City to have a functional, if really imbalanced, "garrison economy"; the point of the episode was more about the futility of war in general.
  • The manga/anime Naruto does pretty well when it comes to economics of the villages: the villages all get clients which pay for the services of the ninja inside, and they're ranked from easiest to most difficult and given to shinobi who fit each job. For example, babysitting, hiring a ninja for dog walking, landscaping, even trash pickup or pet finding are considered 'D-Rank' missions, while escorting people or being a bodyguard is chosen by the threats the ninja'd face (C-Rank is for the biggest threat being common bandits, B-Rank is for ninja enemies) and the most difficult jobs are A and S rank, which gives a lot of money to the people who perform them each time. Jiraiya is in fact the richest ninja we've seen in the manga not only due to his best selling books: he had completed 138 S-Rank missions, which means he earned 138,000,000 ryo on that ALONE (each S-Rank mission earns 1,000,000 ryo each), with 1,839 missions done total. Also, the entire Sand / Sound invasion from Part I was sparked due to an economic depression the former Wind Daimyo had inflicted on Sunagakure by taking all of their business and giving it to Konohagakure instead of his country's own village.
  • Crocodile's plan from One Piece is a more well-thought out version of the H.A.W.X Example. He plans to use his mercenary organization, Baroque Works, to stage a coup on the country of Alabasta. However, this is only the first part of his plan, the second part was to use the revolution as a cover to sneak into the palace and find the blueprints for the superweapon Pluton.
    • Not as well-thought out, however, is the Arlong Pirates' money-making scheme. They take over Nami's home island, by and large cutting it off from the rest of the world, and demand a monthly tax from its residents in order for them to keep their lives. On their first sweep of Nami's village alone, they get roughly 25 million berries, which would indicate that, during the eight years leading up to the story's present, that one little village paid over two billion berries, an incredibly staggering sum. Given that the island is a small backwater fishing and farming community instead of a bustling port, one has to wonder where on earth that one little village procured all that money from, to say nothing of the other villages spread across the island.
      • Part of the problem with that is that the relative value of Berries to any real world currency. 25 million from a village would not be so strange on Yen values, but would likely be insane on something like the dollar or the pound sterling. Given that monetary values in the series are often only portrayed for very-high-value things like Bounties, Aristocrat slave auctions, or the sale of large amounts of treasure, the basics of the One Piece economy are in general hard to derive.
  • In Pumpkin Scissors, we see the sad state of The Empire after the war they've had, in which there was barely any post-war relief efforts done until the formation of Section 3, and their jobs are difficult (one of the characters even find that his superiors were intentionally keeping the cost of commodities up by purchasing them from a province where it is more expensive, and the main character suffers something of a Heroic BSoD when the difference between her own lifestyle and those of the people she helps is brought to her attention). Let's not even get to all the effort and resources they've put into the Invisible 9, and you could infer them to having a "Destruction Equals Employment" policy going on by the amount of resources the military gets.
    • The show's main message seems to be that Aristocrats Are Evil (Alice herself notwithstanding), and the Empire's economic hardships were largely an illustration to that thesis.
  • One Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei episode has an in-universe example/parody, which also counts for Insane Troll Logic. First, the Prime Minister is inspired to give everyone one of Komori's blankets, so they feel optimistic and will spend stimulus money, and this is shown as working well and helping Japan's economy. However, someone points out that Nozomu has no financial worries because he's a civil servant, and so the P.M. gets the idea that since civil servants are economically secure, it would be great to make everyone a civil servant. This completely crashes the economy.
  • In a chapter of one spinoff manga of Tenchi Muyo!, the group tried solving a Broke Episode by having Princess Ayeka ask her father for some money, and he immediately gives them a massive shipful of gold. They either send back or just sit on most of it rather than living like kings, noting that he had given them enough to destabilize the Earth's economy. In contrast, in the original OVA they didn't really suffer from money problems to begin with.
    • In another chapter Ryoko complains about Galaxy Policy officer Mihoshi's destructive Captain Crash tendencies only for Noboyuki (in a rare moment of anger) to point out that unlike the rest of the freeloading girls Mihoshi not only has a job, but donates part of her paycheck to pay for rent and damages. There is some Fridge Logic though in exactly how much Mihoshi is paid and if she's being paid enough to cover the cost of her damages, but at least the currency exchange can be explained away with Earth being secretly aligned with the planet Jurai (that or the entire galaxy uses the yen).

Comic Books

  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe:
    • In a Don Rosa Scrooge McDuck story, The Quest for Kalevala, Scrooge briefly gets his hand on The Sampo, a mythic handmill that can produce infinite amounts of gold. Normally business-savvy Scrooge gets struck by a severe case of gold fever, and starts rolling out tons of gold. In a boat. In the middle of a storming sea. The economic implications were left unstudied, since immediate survival quickly becomes a more important matter. Knowing Scrooge, he probably wanted more gold just to swim in.
    • An Italian Scrooge McDuck comic has him trying to hunt down a second-rate philosopher's stone — it can turn any metal into silver — because he owns a majority of the world's silver mines, and its existence would make silver worth much less (presumably, anyone who gets the stone can duplicate it). The Beagle Boys, on the other hand, are merely thrilled at the idea of making silver out of common junk and getting rich selling it, and try to steal it from him.
    • Donald gets into the world of numismatics after he discovers how precious rare coins can be, and cons Scrooge into exchanging modern money for old (from the depths of his hoard) to subsequently sell the old pieces for a profit. Scrooge gets wind of it, and cons Donald back by selling him a whole bag of old coins... only the collector to whom Donald sold his coins won't buy them anymore as the market is already saturated.
    • In one comic, Scrooge spots the Beagle Boys trying to break into his money bin (again), but after scoping them out and doing some unusual calculations, he leaves them be, and they successfully extract a whole truckload of money with a big hose and escape. It turns out that the money is absolutely worthless since it consists of a massively devalued foreign currency; the Boys can't spend it, exchange it, or even throw it away. Scrooge reveals to his family that he got that money from a specific business deal years ago, and knew the Boys would hit it before reaching anything of actual value (since he knows perfectly the entire contents of the bin), which is why he let them do it. He then offers the Boys a pittance for the coins and uses them to fill his new outdoors swimming pool. While the coins are useless as legal tender (and thus safe from further theft), they're still money he can swim in, and also hold sentimental value.
  • Mickey Mouse Comic Universe: A Paul Murry-drawn Mickey Mouse comic has a villain that has discovered a literal mountain made of diamond. This makes him incredibly rich, as long as no one else knows it exists, since he can control the amount he sells. Hence, his villainy consists of seeing to it that no one who has seen his property ever gets away alive. Disturbingly, this sort of artificial scarcity is Truth in Television for how the diamond industry actually works (and it was worse under the infamous DeBeers monopoly).
  • Superman: The comedic Elseworlds book Superman: True Brit: Superman tries to solve the UK's debt by turning all the coal in the British Isles into diamonds. Later at a press conference, a Lord tells Superman that because of "basic economic theory", diamonds are now worth less than coal. Not only does this make Superman's stunt useless, but thousands of coal miners have now lost their jobs and there is no coal for people to heat their houses with. Superman (a bit of a Ditz in this universe) then proposes that he could go to outer space and bring back gold from other planets to give to each family, causing the Lord to shout "You just don't get it, do you Superman?"

Comic Strips

  • Nodwick averts this when the party meets up with a kobold accountant, who gets them to spare his life in exchange for advice on how to make the most of their treasure. He introduces them to the idea of inflation, for a start, and suggests they pay more attention to gathering treasures other than gold coins. Later, after they've slain a dragon, they were subsequently asked to "STOP DESTABILISING OUR ECONOMY!"


  • Averted AND played straight in Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. In an early chapter with Harry in Gringotts, he notes how the Muggle and Wizardry economies must completely be detached from each other because of the ability to bring in one's own gold/silver/bronze, and then being able to convert between Galleons, Snickles, and Knuts. Using a conversion scheme by buying any of these three metals while it is low, and then converting it into a higher priced metal which he could sell, would allow Harry to utterly break the wizard economy (and become VERY wealthy) "in a week."


  • In a film adaptation of Animal Farm, Napoleon spends all the farm's income on luxuries for the pigs instead of necessities for the farm. Between this and his policies alienating a sizable portion of the other animals into fleeing the farm, the farm quickly falls into ruin.
  • The movie 11 Harrowhouse focuses on a complex plot to rob a stockpile of diamonds from a company that has a near-monopoly over the trade, and is withholding the diamonds to keep the market price up. At the end of the movie after a successful heist, the protagonist is fully aware that if they put everything they stole into circulation, it would cause the value of diamonds to plummet. He ends up burying most of the diamonds in concrete, and keeping only a fraction.
    • This was probably a reference to the De Beers diamond monopoly, which has at different times flooded the market to bring down diamond prices and ruin its competition, or alternately withheld supply to drive prices up.
  • Kazaam does at least twig to this. In one scene, the Big Bad announces that the first thing he intends to wish for from the genie is "all the money in the world". The Kid with the Leash, panicking and trying to stall, points out that this wouldn't work since the economy would crash and all because no one else would have any money. "So I'll wish for all the money... then give some of it back."
  • Trading Places:
    • The film generally averts this except in the scene when Billy Ray is discussing pork bellies with the Dukes. The price is shown changing as though it were a stock, with prices sliding down constantly and consistently, with Billy Ray suggesting that they wait until the price gets to a certain point before buying. Commodities don't trade like that: there's no "market price" per se, but rather each trader sells their contracts at a specific price that they determine themselves, which is strongly affected by what everyone else is selling for, but not strictly determined the way stock issues are.
    • While modern viewers may believe the ending is a straight example because it'd be impossible to do in real life (since it hinges on the use of insider trading), when the movie was made, it was not illegal to use insider trading in commodity markets (as opposed to the stock and bond market), where the climax takes place (although a government courier could still get in trouble for unauthorized release of government information). In fact, this movie was cited when they eventually made the law banning it, which even today is called the "Eddie Murphy Rule". All the other reasons the ending wouldn't work today fall under Technology Marches On.


  • Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged:
    • The villains run an odd combination of 'Digging and Filling Ditches' and 'Exporting Good Importing Bad' (with a bit of 'Destruction Equals Employment' in the form of a Death Ray project). Eventually it culminates in Directive 10-289, which proponents claim will solve the crisis by requiring people to buy and sell exactly as they did the year before. This is meant to be an unworkable system, though; the book is an Author Tract about the evils of controlled economies.
    • Critics of the book's premise are quick to point out that the protagonists' "fuck you, got mine" system is no more feasible, and only works because they have a perpetual motion machine and cloaking device to hide Galt's Gulch from outsiders. Bob the Angry Flower parodied this by showing Galt and co. stuck doing backbreaking farm labor just to survive (which, at least, they would prefer in-context to working for "the looters" back in civilization). BioShock also deconstructed it, as the Objectist Utopia of Rapture quickly divided into a stratified society of the rich and poor (as Fontaine points out, somebody has to clean the toilets). The fact that markets are completely unregulated meant that the highly addictive, superpower granting Plasmids were being sold freely, which led to a Civil War and complete collapse of society.
  • In Baccano!'s "Children of the Bottle", Elmer cites his reason for getting into alchemy was to learn how to turn metals into gold and distribute it so he could end poverty... and the reason he gave up alchemy being that he realized that the economy simply does not work that way.
  • Averted to a large extent in The Belgariad series, especially considering military logistics and Silk's business exploits. Possibly reaching Moment of Awesome status in the prequels, when Polgara enumerates (and demonstrates) how turning unpaid Arendish serfs into paid laborers would ultimately result in not just a healthier economy, but more tax revenue.
  • The Dystopia Brave New World. Useless, overly complicated stuff (squee! complicated sports involving autogyros!) is made by unnecessary amounts of manual labor not to stimulate the economy, but simply to keep the people busy enough with full-time jobs. It was possible to have a well-running economy with four-hours-a-day jobs, but an experiment with Ireland showed that having too much free time had bad results, the population getting bored and excessively using the government-issued drug soma.
    • However the book screws up in assuming that there is infinite amount of raw resources on Earth to be able to support such an inefficient economic system. The author tried to handwave all this away, claiming the human population is kept artificially low and recycling technology has advanced to unprecedented sophistication.
    • It does helps that the society is a low scale due to having survived many wars and birthrate controlled. They even mentions that they have a bunch of islands to throw unfit people there since the population is just that small. And they can make it smaller if they want since they have total control over birth rates.
    • Also, at one point one of the characters asks why they don't structure society with smaller lower classes. The response? "But then who would do all this work we need done?"
    • In another experiment, the world government set up an island entirely of "Alphas" (the highest class) which caused strife when they attempted to order each other around. So they feel it's socially necessary to have inferiors.
  • The Council running the Iron Hills in the Corean Chronicles was made of trading factors who ran their government to suit their own business interests. They kept tariffs low to cut costs to themselves, then didn't have enough money to fund their military. When a war broke out, they had to raise tariffs and get war loans to pay to increase their militia to a size that might have enabled them to avoid the war in the first place, and the moment the war ended, they immediately cut tariffs again to restore their profits, forgetting that the government now had more expenses (Paying off the war loans). These decisions based on short term personal financial gain bankrupted their country, which cost them their independence, demonstrating a failure to understand both economics and politics in one go. As a bonus, they were also completely incapable of realizing that just because a product is expensive, it doesn't necessarily mean that the person who makes it is rich. Thus they put high taxes on goods that were expensive to buy because they were expensive to make, thus putting many of the producers of one of their key exports out of business.
  • Discworld:
    • The Colour of Magic:
    • The Patrician tries to explain to Rincewind why Twoflower spreading gold all over Ankh-Morpork is not the Good Thing everyone else believes. Rincewind doesn't really get it. It indirectly leads to the entire city being burned to the ground (by an Ankh-Morpork citizen getting sold on the Agatean concept of "fire insurance" and understanding it as "if you set fire to your inn, we will pay you a great deal of money"), but he was talking about runaway inflation. He also hints that it would destabilize political relations between Ankh-Morpork and the Agatean Empire (which uses enormous solid gold coins).
      Vetinari: We have nothing they want, and they have nothing we can afford.
      • It's stated that the wizards can transform lead into gold, but the economic problems solve themselves because it turns back into lead.
    • Making Money does a reasonable job (for a comedic fantasy) of dealing with the transition from coinage to paper currency, and issues like market liquidity, convertibility, and cost of acceptance.
  • The Garin Death Ray is a 1927 Soviet sci-fi novel in which a Mad Scientist intentionally invokes this trope in a bid to Take Over the World. He invents a mirror-based laser-like device and uses it to drill a mine shaft deep into the Earth's mantle where, apparently, there is a geological layer composed entirely of gold. He then sets sail for the (naturally) evil, corrupt, uber-capitalist United States, starts selling bars of gold for a dollar apiece to anyone who asks, and soon brings the entire economy to its knees (remember, the gold standard was still in use at the time). It is then up to our Soviet heroes to dodge Slow Lasers and foil his plot, after which the United States promptly converts to Communism.
  • It's explained in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that neither food nor money can be Conjured, explaining why wizards need money and can't simply conjure up new coins with the flick of a wand. It's also later shown that the Goblins, who run the wizarding world's banks, have the unique ability to decipher between real gold and counterfeits such as leprechaun gold, explaining why transfiguring other objects into gold coins wouldn't work either.
  • Robert A. Heinlein:
    • Beyond This Horizon is set in a society where everyone is given the basics for free. However, they still had money and the economics made sense in context. Though to be fair that's pretty easy: just give out really crappy basics, kinda like issuing everyone on a dole an orange jumpsuit and feeding them on prison loaf: surely it would let you survive on the dole, but would you like living like that for any extended period of time?
    • Another of his novels For Us, The Living, has an extended (multi-chapter) digression in which the main characters play a game modeling the economy of the time the book was written (mid-to-late 1930s), before using the same game as a general case that they can modify to reach the "ideal" that the USA of the book's setting used, based on the economic theory of Social Credit.
  • The Heralds of Valdemar series demonstrates a key flaw of the Raubwirtschaft (Plunder based economy) economic model: However workable or unworkable it is in the long term, it can only work in the short term if you're good at plundering. Ancar of Hardorn tried to use his nation as a machine to create armies with which to conquer his neighbors. Over the course of his reign, he launched four unsuccessful invasions of his neighbors before they assassinated him in order to abort a fifth attempt at conquering them. The trilogy after Ancar's death showed the condition he left his nation in — he had conscripted so many able-bodied men who were sent off to die in unsuccessful wars that even some (originally) fairly large communities no longer had the manpower necessary to run the farms needed to feed themselves.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The useless B-Ark people who crash on prehistoric Earth in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe try to set up an economy using leaves as a currency, but there's so many leaves about that they're instantly devalued. Solution: burn the forests. Dumb, but it would work.
  • Honor Harrington:
    • In the early novels, the People's Republic of Haven has an economic model where anyone who wants to can live somewhat tolerably on welfare for their entire adult life. As a result of this having been practiced for generations, the vast majority of their citizens didn't see any point in working, so the employment rate was somewhere around 10%, at most. This resulted in low productivity, which meant that the government had a small tax base, which resulted in their slowly going bankrupt. The only thing they could think of to prop up their budget was to conquer their neighbors and loot their economies, something that only provided a short-term relief, as they introduced their flawed systems to their conquered planets, resulting in millions of more unproductive Dolists (people who spend their entire lives on the dole) draining away their budget.
      Of course, the leaders knew that their system had failed, but they couldn't see a way to solve the problem, as the only places they could cut the budget enough to make a difference were the BLS (Basic Living Stipend, the permanent welfare program), which would cause the Dolists to revolt, or the Navy, which would result in attacks from neighboring planets that were at the top of the "to be conquered" list and revolts on recently conquered planets. The one nice thing you can say about the people who murdered the Legislaturists and took over was that while they may have been just as monstrous in their own ways, they did manage to fix their country's economy — by finding a propaganda spin that made the Dolists volunteer to actually work, by going to war with Manticore. This also, incidentally, led to they themselves being overthrown in the end and the original Haven Constitution being restored.
    • The reason why the Legislaturalists' Government feared the Dolists' revolt was that they were kinda squeamish about the means they'd have to employ should it break out. When the much more ruthless Committee of Public Safety introduced their wartime measures (which included the sharp BLS cut) revolt did promptly break out, and was mercilessly put down by orbital bombardment (earning one of the characters the in-universe nickname of "Citizen Admiral Clusterbomb"). There was actually very little actual volunteering, the government forced everyone to start working, as the new BLS was essentially a starvation budget, and they already had conscription for the military. The whole thing was David Weber's cautionary tale about the danger of a welfare system run rampant.
    • We later learn that it IS possible to make a BLS-like system work, and there actually were nations that made it so, ironically most of them later being absorbed by Haven for their healthy economies. The problem of the Havenite economy was less the idea of the welfare state itself, and more the incompetence and self-righteousness of the Legislaturalists, and them being manipulated into crippling their own economy by the Mesan Alignment, which had a grudge towards Haven for an entirely different reason.
  • Maoyu is similar, though based in national macroeconomics. The opening scenes consist of the demon lord Maou patiently explaining to the Hero sent to assassinate her exactly why a sudden end to the total war between monsters and humans, no matter who "wins", would leave everyone worse off - the losers enslaved, the victors tearing themselves apart fighting over the spoils, and the sudden loss of a large consumption market destroying the economy. What follows is an elaborate long con attempting to slow the war economy of both sides enough that it can be stopped without wrecking both civilizations.
  • Hilari Bell's A Matter of Profit is chock full of aversions of this trope. It takes a realistic look at the nature of money and trade itself and how it can bring cultures together peacefully (you don't want to fight the people you depend on to buy your product).
  • "Murder Most Fowl", a short story by Deborah Militello printed in Dragon Magazine, subverts the Money for Nothing type to hilarious effect. It's set in a world where Jack (he of the Beanstalk fame), has become lord of the realm on the strength of his gold-egg-laying goose. At the beginning of the story, the goose is found strangled, and a hapless courtier is set to finding out who had committed the seemingly senseless crime of destroying the source of the national wealth... only to learn that, in fact, the endless supply of cheap gold was wrecking local industry, undermining the basis of the feudal economy, and threatening to plunge the country into war. Meaning that EVERYONE from King Jack on down had an excellent motive. And then it turns out that the culprit was the one person who had no motive: the castle cook, while drunk, had mistaken it for another goose and wrung its neck with intent to roast it for dinner.
  • The first Night Watch (Series) book explains why that series averts this. It is said that transmutation is relatively simple magic, which could allow the Others (and specifically the Watches) to manufacture money (or any other resource). It is said that most non-Watch Others would be severely limited in the degree to which they could do this, whereas the Watches themselves assign minor Others to the task of managing their business holdings to fund themselves. It's explained that they do this because they don't want to ruin the local economies (which, considering that the books are set in Russia, are bad enough as they are). On the other hand, a later novel reveals that the ability to predict (or at least foresee with a reasonable degree of accuracy and detail) the future means that the Watches can easily make money by playing the stock market and currency exchange rates. The Day Watch has no problem living lavishly, but the Night Watch pays their employees a modest salary, while also providing them a company ATM card with no visible limit (they're using a foreign bank that doesn't share that information). Any employee can withdraw as much cash as they want, but it's not in the nature of the Light ones to be greedy.
  • Three oppressive Dystopias operate with perpetual war economies in Nineteen Eighty-Four, with it being explicitly stated even two on one, none of them can win the war. This is done to destroy surplus wealth and keep people's standards of living from getting better. The goal isn't to support their economies, but to keep them down. Using war to deliberately destroy wealth may be insane, but it works. It also theorizes that people could be forced to make very large monuments to use up wealth and keep the standard of living low, but war stirs more passion in citizens, and ultimately more love for their leader. There's also speculation - both in-universe and in the real world - that the "eternal war" was actually just part of the all-encompassing governmental propaganda.
    • A similar problem to Brave New World arises, though such a model requires infinite resources, unless incredibly efficient recycling methods have been developed. The book handwaves this by saying that even the leaders behind the scheme realize eventually their standard of living will get worse over time as well— they don't mind as long as they are sufficiently ahead of the proletarians.
  • RCN: The Forever War between the Republic of Cinnabar and the Alliance of Free Stars is actually close to ending throughout the first half of the series, though it takes two tries before it sticks (it ends between books 7 and 8). And it's because both countries were on the verge of economic crises that could have taken the entirety of human space with them into a renewed dark age.
  • The Salvation War makes mentions the economy of the Earth and the USA during the war. Or, as one character says, "What economy Sir? We don’t have one any more, we've got a train wreck instead." The books show just how bad such a total focus on militarization is for the world economy, and the mess that is left in its wake. And then you consider the fact that Earth had just conquered Heaven - where the capital city has gold and jewels apparently collected from a hundred planets or so.
  • Spice and Wolf not only averts this trope, but it's based entirely on economics despite taking place in a fantasy world, so it would be a disaster if this trope was played straight.
  • Similar to the Nodwick example, in Tales of MU "Delvers" (adventurers) have one of the highest tax-liabilities in the Imperium, but delving gear is tax-deductible. This encourages delvers to keep most of their wealth in the form of high-end magic items rather than simply flooding the economy with excess gold.
  • In Matthew Reilly's Temple, the Big Bad threatens to destroy the Earth unless he is paid $100 billion, which he then plans to dump on the market at absurdly low prices, destroying the world economy.
  • The Witcher: In The Limits of Possibility during a quarrel with Yennefer, Geralt mentioned one of the "strange" sides of their world:
    Isn't it strange that during every dragon hunt, some or other sorcerer strongly associated with the jewelers' guild always hangs around. For example, you. And later, when one would think gems must flood the market, they for some reason don't go there, and prices don't fall.

Live-Action TV

  • Played with in an episode of Malcolm in the Middle; Reese is advising Malcolm via earpiece on how to talk to a girl he likes, and has him state that he wishes the government would turn 1 dollar bills into 100 dollar bills so that nobody would be poor. Malcolm rolls his eyes at the idea, but says it anyway. Fortunately for him, the girl is as much an idiot as Reese, and takes the idea as a profound statement of social conscience.
  • The "Elmo Saves Christmas" special of Sesame Street, when Elmo wishes for every day to be Christmas. After the first few days of this, nearly everyone's parents are broke and the presents are valueless because he has so many of them. After a year, everyone is permanently out of work, Christmas trees are an endangered species, and Santa is forced to retire. As a way of explaining the Law of Diminishing Utility to pre-schoolers, it ain't half-bad.
  • An episode of Raising Hope has Burt creating a new currency called Burt Bucks as a way for the local working class folks to deal with economic scarcity. He quickly abuses the system by printing too many Burt Bucks and hilarity ensues.

Tabletop Games

  • The creator of Exalted was a passionate economics student, and so rigorously and realistically defined how the economics of Creation worked, even accounting for the presence of supernatural elements (most banking is based on the salt rate, which is determined by the value of sacrifices that need to be made to salt gods for them to tolerate their salt being mined).
  • Played for Laughs in the famous "Rocks are not 'free', citizen" post for Warhammer 40,000. It was written as a response to the idea that dropping an asteroid on a planet was cheaper than firing missiles at it. When you take into account how much time, fuel, rations, and paint to cover up the micrometeoroid impacts dealt to a mile-long ship will be required to properly fling an asteroid at a planet versus how much of the same is needed just to fire a handful of missiles, it turns out you spend three times as much to do the former versus the latter. The post ends by ordering the person who commissioned said Colony Drop to attend an accounting class.

Video Games

  • Most business sims, such as Railroad Tycoon and the like, have at least some grounding in real world economics, since it is what the entire game is about.

  • While Fridge Logic dictates that the economy of the Pokémon universe should have collapsed a long time ago, they did avert this on one occasion. The Magikarp salesman sells the useless Pokémon at high prices. He does this by convincing customers that the Magikarp will make them rich by having the Magikarp have children, and then the next generation will have more children, and soon one will have an infinite amount of Magikarp and an infinite amount of money. However, it is made very clear that the only one making any money off this scheme is the Magikarp salesman. Granted it's more of a con than economics (he sells one fish that mates and tells you it'll just multiply).
  • The submarine adventure simulation SubCulture has a quite well-rounded economy. You can gather several raw materials (like, metal, thorium, or nicotine) in the ocean and sell them at the various cities, or buy wares from one city and sell it for a profit to another. Buying raises prices, selling lowers them.
  • Mass Effect deserves some credit for its depiction of post-industrial economies. Unlike many other sci-fi franchises such as Star Wars, which abide by We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future, the vast majority of jobs still held by humans (and aliens) in Mass Effect are dependent on either intellectual capital (e.g. engineers, software developers, programmers, pilots), entertainment (actors, writers, directors, video game designers, artists, etc.), or are otherwise service-based (clerks, waiters, barbers, lawyers, doctors, salesmen, nurses, living assistants, etc.). Technology has progressed enough that employing humans in direct goods-producing roles instead of using advanced machines is obsolete. At one point you can ask a store clerk why she even has a job when all the sales can be done online (and often are), and she responds that customers like a personal touch in their purchases and to have a real person there to answer questions. This accurately depicts the economic concept of mass personalization brought on by automation. The batarians still have chattel slavery, but it's portrayed as something completely unnecessary that they just retain because they're dicks.
    • Also, despite how different the species are in biology, government, culture, and so on, nearly every economy is clearly a free market capitalist one with wage labor, private property rights enforced by the state, corporate competition (enforced by the state if necessary), private capital accumulation, and market-determined prices, because this is (as current science understands) the most quantitatively superior method of distributing scarce resources. It stands to reason that all civilizations would develop it for the same reason that all civilizations developed, say, the wheel, or firearms. The exact strain of free market capitalism varies, from the borderline anarcho-capitalist society of Illium to the liberal capitalist Nordic-style economy of Thessia to the authoritarian capitalist Chinese-style economy of Palaven, but all the civilizations agree on those key points. The species who don't have these measures in place like the krogan, batarians, and quarians are clearly depicted as economic basket cases for it (among other reasons).
    • Even the angara in Andromeda maintain a capitalist market economy despite being in a post-apocalyptic situation, albeit an accurately-depicted state capitalist one with a large safety net. They avert this trope in another way with an accurate depiction of a gift economy, which there's ample evidence that early civilizations utilized as opposed to the more common view of them using barter economies. It's never called that in game, but it's clearly described as one: within tight-knit groups where currency isn't being used, individual members freely trade goods and services and keep track of their mental debts with the expectation of being paid back later in kind, with the value of the good or service informally determined depending on the persons' needs.


  • In A Magical Roommate, X accidentally manages to crash the economy: deciding to go live and study in the magical world, she makes enough money to pay her fees while having additional spending money by selling aluminium, a rare and prized metal that's extremely expensive in the magical world (Until the modern refinement process was developed in the late 19th Century, aluminum was more valuable than gold IRL). Except that she got this aluminium by going back to the human world and buying aluminium foil, which she then sold in the magical world. Given how easy it is to buy aluminium foil in the human world, and how little X cares about economics, it doesn't take long for the whole situation to go downhill.
  • According to some throwaway comments in Roommates the wish and favor based "economy" of the magical people (at least partially) owes its existence to the older ones realizing that messing with the mortal monetary systems is more trouble than it's worth (like giving away large quantities of gold/money can cause inflation, and exchange rates are a pain).
  • In Three Jaguars, an arc called "Opportunity Cost" features Business Manager explaining this to Marketer, who had planned on Artist doing the covers of the books.

Western Animation

  • In an episode of Disney's Aladdin: The Series Iago is granted (semi-)Phenomenal (nearly)Cosmic powers for the day, with a few provisos... a few quid-pro-quos... After he distributes conjured gemstones freely to the public, the people of Agrabah all practically worship him, until they realize it takes bushels of rubies just to buy bread.
  • DuckTales (1987):
    • Huey, Dewey, and Louie find a machine that lets them duplicate dollar coins en masse. Inflation promptly kicks in and loaves of bread cost $200 before they find the reverse switch. This episode was loosely based on Carl Barks' A Financial Fable and The Fabulous Philosopher's Stone, which are also notable aversions.
    • A fun one, based on Barks' story Tralla La, involved a civilization which operated entirely on the honor system being intoxicated and then inundated with bottle caps. First they were rare, and everybody wanted one. Then they were common and used as currency, then inflated because Launchpad was air-dropping planeloads in order to break the rarity. The value of the caps fell so quickly, that they were arrested for throwing trash. They eventually got rid of all the bottle caps just to put a stop to the madness.
    • In one episode Huey, Dewey, and Louie wanted a fancy scooter thing, but were not going to get allowance until Saturday, and the price of the Scooter was going to rise on Saturday so they wouldn't be able to buy it. So they convinced Scrooge it was Saturday. Being the important businessman he is, passing on this notion "it is Saturday" to other powerful people of the world, this small date confusion spread worldwide and brought the entire world's economy to a grinding halt.
  • Briefly discussed in an episode of Ducktales 2017, where the Ducks are introduced to a machine which can create anything. Huey is curious how it can create something from nothing (thereby violating the first law of thermodynamics), but Louie tells him not to question a device which could grant him infinite gold. Huey has to explain that if you made infinite gold, the price of gold would be severely devalued (also counting as a Continuity Nod, since the people of the Moon do have a massive quantity of gold and consider it to be monetarily worthless).
    Louie: Stop ruining things for me!
  • Averted in The Fairly OddParents!: Fairies cannot grant wishes for money because it would necessitate either stealing or counterfeiting, and they are not allowed to grant wishes that break the law; e.g. in one episode when Timmy wishes for some tickets to a sold-out Crash Nebula show, Cosmo and Wanda can't grant the wish because that would mean taking the tickets from somebody who already bought them.
  • House of Mouse: an episode had Ludwig von Drake invent a machine that could multiply any money you put into it... and had him promptly arrested for counterfeiting.
  • In Metalocalypse, Nathan takes over Florida and immediately drives the country into the ground by rationalizing that the best way to solve poor people's problems is to print more money. Needless to say, Florida's money is made quite worthless. Nathan went on to destroy the state with a hurricane, though, so nature balanced it out. (And yet Nathan's still considered the 'best damn governor Florida ever had'.
  • One episode of Recess has the students of Third Street Elementary adopt monster stickers as a form of currency to pay for things like playing on the jungle gym or use one of the playground's balls. However, TJ becomes obsessed with amassing as many stickers as possible and it gets to the point where none of the other kids have enough to pay for the activities and must either work for him or stand around doing nothing. The other kids decide to adopt alien stamps as a new currency, which makes the monster stickers worthless. They then force TJ to sign an agreement limiting the amount of stamps he can possess to prevent the same thing from happening again.

    Post-Scarcity Economies 
The Singularity has arrived! Technology has advanced to the point that practically anyone can have practically anything for practically nothing. Often involves Nanomachines. In other words, A Wizard Did It - with SCIENCE! Put more charitably, complete automation via advanced AI (etc.).

Bonus points for those cases that deal with the fact that some things are still scarce because of their very nature. The ability to effectively infinitely replicate any commodity does not mean everyone can have a house just like Fallingwater, the front row seat to a particular concert, or the authentic, original Honus Wagner tobacco card.

  • Gianni Rodari's story Planet of Christmas Trees features a planet on which all work is done by robots and machines and everyone has access to any resources the want, to the point where entire castles are built just to be smashed by people who need to work off some frustration. Also It's Always Spring, every day is Christmas, and the government has grown unnecessary.
  • The Midas Plague by Frederik Pohl features an unusual situation where there is too much production. People are expected to work less and consume more; and the ratio of possessions to social standing is completely inverted. For some reason, probably comedy, the thought of simply reducing production is considered unworkable.
  • The set of novels starting with "The Uglies" by Scott Westerfield had Cities which seemed to be this. The Pretties (read: 16-2x year olds) could have nearly anything they want just by asking for it. We find out later in the first novel this is true, but not solely because of the highly advanced technology the society has.
    • In fact, the last novel of the series called "The Extras" deals very well with the fallout when one of the Pretties' "enhancements" is fixed with the Brain Rain. Said change caused a huge, permanent sea-change that required the society to have a type of currency (based on reputation and work you do) to limit resource usage.
  • Robert Anton Wilson's Schroedinger's Cat trilogy studies a number of Alternate Universes, including a Utopian one, where a manual laborer who invents a way to automatize his work will get a high standard of living for lifetime, and everybody else in the same business gets a comfortable one, as machines multiply the production rates, allowing a part of the surplus to be used this way, since capitalism requires consumers in order to function. The system has its problems to a careful reader - one would imagine that people would cry foul when major parts of the formerly working class populace get free lunch without doing anything, while others continue to toil at least until someone in their ranks manages to mechanize that particular industry, as well. Still, the people who have jobs that can't be automatized are depicted as the lucky ones, since permanent vacation isn't all that it's cut out to be, and as a result adult education flourishes.
  • John Ringo's Council Wars series applies before the war. Society and Technology have made it so that everyone gets a ration of power each day, more than enough to provide for a comfortable lifestyle. There is a small scale economy in the background, with some luxury goods produced and traded, but it's hardly essential to the setting. This lasts perhaps 100 pages into the book, before things go straight to hell.
  • John Ringo's Troy Rising The Glatun the friendly galactic race has 30% of their population permanently unemployed. Nearly everything they use is created by fabbers which are run by A.I.s and use only raw materials (or can be supplied with old scrap) and He3 to run. The only scarcity in their economy is helium3 yet the high unemployment is repeatedly cited as evidence that the Glatun are headed towards disaster. To add to the oddness humanity eventually builds a He3 mine that is said to produce so much it could power the entire galactic arm. One imagines that the 70% of Glatun who are employed are only keeping what's built running in the field.
  • The Eldar in Warhammer 40,000 used to have an economy like this. Their technology had advanced to the point where all work could be done by machines and everything necessary could be easily produced, eliminating scarcity and the need for labor. It didn't end well, as their society eventually slipped into decadence and resulted in the creation of the Chaos God of Squick, annihilating the majority of the Eldar in the process.
    • This was also implied for much of humanity during the Dark Age of Technology, which coincided with the latter years of Eldar supremacy. Using Standard Template Constructs, it was possible to build almost anything from local materials, from basic farming equipment and habitats, to highly sophisticated feats of engineering like tapping magma for industry and power generation. This also included sophisticated but flawed artificial intelligences, which later rebelled.
  • People who live in the civilized empires of Orion's Arm can easily go their entire lives without ever having to work, Archailects can provide anything they need and much of what they want for free. The most common professions are those concerned with raising the next generation, either through parenting or by altering non-sentient species so that they become intelligent enough to join galactic society.
    • The NoCoZo is the biggest exception, being dominated by a number of MegaCorp
  • Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom: Cory Doctorow's Bitchun Society has eliminated scarcity (by way of free energy and universal assemblers) and death (by way of brain uploading and cloning). Exchanges of the remaining scarce goods (those that require human labor, especially human creativity) are mediated by "Whuffie", which is a digitally-compiled estimate of your reputation in the eyes of the whole world.
  • Charles Stross enjoys working with post-scarcity societies; Accelerando chronicles the creation of one straight through the singularity. Protagonist Manfred Macx is one of the first people on Earth to realize that in such a world the best way to get truly rich is to help other people achieve great goals and become rich. In Singularity Sky and Iron Sunrise the most valuable resource in the universe are the entangled quantum dots that enable faster-than-light communication and which have to be transported slower than light. After that the most valuable things are information and creativity.
    • There are particularly odd things such as the market for reputation in Accelerando... exactly what a valuable reputation is was not explicitly defined in the novel, but Manfred was kind of the template for how it might work. In short: as physical production becomes easier, there is less value in (easily-automated) labor and more in creativity/novelty and initiative. A person with a valuable reputation is someone worth investing in - their work will give you back valuable ideas, access to valuable resources, or simple entertainment. It's like an elaborate amalgam of a stock market, venture capitalism, and one's social media followers.
    • Accelerando also mentions "Economics 2.0", the foundation of the society of the post-scarcity transhuman intelligences formed by modified uploaded humans and AI. It apparently isn't possible to understand nor engage in Economics 2.0 without your conscious mind being altered to the point where you are quite clearly no longer human, which also handily avoids the need for the author to explain what such godlike beings might trade in, or why. It's somewhat implied that the superintelligences are trading in lesser intelligences for control of creativity and novelty, but the characters observe from indirect contact with the remnants of other post-Singularity societies that they end up autocannibalizing as the superintelligences use (and use up) one another in their ever-more-complex economic interactions.
  • Strugatsky Brothers' Noon Universe has a classical post-scarcity society which they explicitly called communism. That gave them all kinds of trouble with the authorities, as their take on what communism should look like (decentralized, technology focused) was radically different from the party line. Similar elements were actually common with most Soviet Sci-Fi (indeed, it was actually required that writers depict the future as being communist, because the government thought it would "inevitably" be the case) but they fleshed it out to such an extent that it unnerved censors.
  • In Stanisław Lem's Observation on the Spot one of the countries Ijon Tichy visits on Entia is Lusania — a thorough deconstruction of post-scarcity utopia, where everything is done by nanomachines and people cannot hurt each other, but because of that hardly anything has any real value anymore. Many Lusanians long for the "simpler life" others have.
  • In Eclipse Phase habitats operating under a "New" economy don't use money, instead most items are produced by public nanofabricators that are supplied with raw materials by robot miners, and everyone who contributes a few hours of "community service" each week is allotted enough resources to feed six people each day. Anything that can't be nanofabbed or requires more resources than a person is allotted (services, implants, spaceships, earth relics...) are either bartered for or obtained as favors from one's social network, which assign "rep" scores to people based on their actions. The Titanian Commonwealth has a variant where the government quantifies people's economic output as "kroners" that are invested in microcorps which do anything that nanofabs can't and give their employees rep.
    • There are also habitats with "Old" economies that ban nanofabricators and "Transitional" economies that have money and public nanofabricators which can only be used to produce goods without electronics or rare elements.
  • To the Stars has this with Earth, with replicators being commonplace, although there are 'allocs' for luxury items like non-synthesized restaurant food or berths on space-going vessels. Averted, however, on the other planets in humanity's empire, which still use a capitalist system. The main character, from Earth, is therefore quite confused when deployed to one of these planets and is bombarded by things called 'advertisements'.
    • To the fanfic's credit, it's mentioned that the twenty-year-and-still going war is causing resources to be drained faster, resulting in an economic shift back towards a capitalist model. Professions which used to be performed for free pre-war are beginning to ask for donations, and students are re-thinking their career choices when they could previously chase whatever dream they wanted regardless of productivity. This is understandably troubling for many Earthborn who are unused to the idea of scarcity, especially for the basics.
  • Reconstruction in The Orville. The Planetary Union has a post-scarcity economy for the same reasons as Star Trek: The Next Generation (being an homage to the series), namely cheap, clean energy and matter replicators. However, Kelly explains in the penultimate episode of season one that, even though material resources are plentiful, people with skills and the will and connections to use them are notnote , so the Planetary Union economy largely runs on people's reputations: things no longer have value, but people do, in a non-slavery way. Status is earned by what you do, but you can fully dedicate yourself to a practice and be the best you can be, which in turn is your economic value. The other side of this is explored somewhat obliquely in the second season: Lieutenant Gordon, known as an ace pilot, decides he wants to be more than just that and applies for command responsibilities. While Commander Greyson's initial reaction could be considered a "wait, you in command?" reaction, there's the implication that if he goes for command and doesn't do well, it will devalue his personal reputation because he will be going from a "Great Pilot" to a "Below Average Commander". The season 3 finale also explains why giving replicator technology to a society that isn't mentally and culturally ready for it would lead to disaster: the rich and powerful would hoard the tech and fight over it.
  • Zig-zagged in Schlock Mercenary; they still use money, but the resources with the biggest restrictions are PTUs (post-transuranic elements) to make ship hulls, and Annie plants (made of neutronium) to power them (and even then, the size is the limiting factor). The cast meets a race that had the capacity to easily produce PTUs, and unintentionally ended up with a "planet sized debt" from selling off some of their ships. In a more humorous note, Schlock gets transferred from one ship to another, and complains... because the previous ship, depaite being smaller, could make cookies any time he wanted.


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Alternative Title(s): Artistic Licence Economics


The Karemma view of pricing

"Starship Down" contrasts the viewpoints of two merchant civilizations: the arch-capitalist Ferengi and the fair-minded Karemma. The Karemma price their products in a non-market manner: rather than charge whatever they can get away with, they set a predetermined profit margin, plus expenses. While contracting does sometimes work this way, it's not how prices are determined in the consumer market.

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / ArtisticLicenseEconomics

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