Economics 101 and “The Wire”

Call me late to the party but I just started watching Season 1 of HBO’s riveting crime series The Wire and am now understanding why it is one of the most beloved shows ever made.

One episode struck me as oddly, and amusingly, relevant as Stringer Bell is seen scolding some of his underlings in their “legit” print & copy shop.  When asked about order fulfillment issues his employees state that they didn’t care if the customer complained and Stringer promptly scolds them and explains how they have an “elastic product” – meaning there are plenty of competitors to their copy shop and they all have substitute products to which customers can easily switch if they are dissatisfied.

Stringer Bell Explaining to his minions about Demand Elasticity 

This is a great example of demand elasticity which my classmates and I just studied a few months ago in business school.  It’s always fun to have a real-world application of a subject which all too often remains theoretical and mysterious. There are some key lessons to take away from The Wire (aka: the original Khan Academy)


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