Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Ec and the City

My wife and I finally watched the return these New York fab four. Yes, we are a fan of the TV series, so we've been anticipating the big screen version for quite a while. I thought the movie was a pretty good entertainment, and some reviews might be too harsh. I agree with Leila Chudori that the movie was lacking the series' twist and naughty plot. But, in the end, the movie is a 2-hour annex to the series. Not a repetition of the episodes when they were still at their 30s. So, please, it's not The Godfather or Little Women; it has the right to remain cheesy!

The plot revolves around Carrie and Big's relationship. How they decided to get married, then one of them got too obsessed and the other got scared, and how they got through with that. I tried to enjoy the movie by not thinking any economic theories. But still I couldn't help thinking of Becker's 'Economics of Marriage.' You can read Becker's account in his Nobel lecture here; a good summary of his theory (and how the theory evolved between the first JPE article in 1973 and his latter works, especially the 1981 Treatise) here; or in Tim Hartford's popular version here. But note that those pieces look at why do people decide to get married (and how do they choose partners) as opposed to being single. In Carrie and Big's case, the issue is why they want to move to one stable equilibrium (extra-marital cohabitation) to another one (marriage).

One of the movie's subplots is the troubled marriage of Miranda and Steve. The question is, when you have to decide whether you want to keep your marriage or terminate it, do you apply a cost-benefit type of calculation? Maybe. But, in the spirit of the movie, maybe not. It's harder to lose something you've actually had, even though you could 'trade' it with something you'd prefer to have in a counterfactual life. Economists call it the endowment effect, which may suggest, as this article argued, humans are irrational animals.

Or, in Carrie's words to Miranda, "Sorry, Harvard.. this time you need to make decision based on your emotions... not logic..." Ah, I think I'm too carried away with the movie.


  1. just out of meekness, is there any cute economist out there?

    I haven't seen Sex and the City, but sounds it'll be fun to see it with an economist. A female economist. Cute.

    Preferably single but not too importantly so.

    drop me mail.

  2. Puyenj-puyenk amat pake mikirin ekonomi bah!!!

  3. Ari, agree with you. sure it's silly, shallow and promoting label-crazed consumptivism - but it's great fun and actually quite well-written. why would anyone overanalyze and expect it to be anything else - while for men, there's a lot of just as brainless entertainment out there including mock spy movies or any sports on tv. this, i believe, will be a great cult movie for girls, as part of a tradition like rocky horror show, to be watched again and again with girlfriends (or enlightened men). we all accept that it is a shopping catalog with a good storyline - hmm and we can appreciate the fashion part as a form of beautiful, wearable art...

  4. you forget sweet Charlotte who gave up her Hampton-Victorianesque dream and married a Jewish and adopting a Chinese girl. let's talk about marginal rate of substitution here.

    she is totally my darling, struggling with her black Oscar de La Renta while shouting "DON'T!!" to Big. and i stole her dead giveaway line recently : I curse you the day you were born...

    gosh i love this movie!

  5. Detta -- I didn't forget Charlotte, and Samantha ("Hey, d**k-wad, I'm speaking!") for sure. But then I'd have to review the serial (at least the final two seasons) since in the movie, she is the one without any problems. I agree, Charlotte's "No!" scene is a great one.

    Aside, the serial had one of the best endings (the 2-episode 'American girl in Paris'). Because everyone were portrayed as enjoying their 'second-best sub-optimal happy ending.' (Seinfeld also had a great finale in its own way...).