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Economic Fables

Ariel Rubinstein

Bibliographical Notes

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The results of the experiments reported in chapters 1, 2 and 4 rely on the data collected via my Internet site: Some of the results were published in: Ariel Rubinstein, ”Instinctive and Cognitive Reasoning: A Study of Response Times”, Economic Journal, 117 (2007), 1243–59. All of my publications are available to read and download from my webpage:


In the sections Economics and Me, Economic Tales and Tellers of Tales, I drew from my lecture ”Micro-economic Theory: Miracles or Wonders”, The Israeli Academy of Sciences (December 1995).

The comparison of an economic model to a tale is based on the discussion in: Ariel Rubinstein, ”Dilemmas of an Economic Theorist”, Econometrica, 74 (2006), 865–83. See also: Robert Lucas, ”What Economists Do”, Unpublished Manuscript, University of Chicago (1988).

The illustration on page 17 is from Fairy Tales and Other Stories by Hans Christian Anderson (Humphrey Milford: Oxford University Press, 1914).

The economic model on page 18 is from my article ”Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model”, Econometrica, 50 (1982), 97–110. The Bargaining Tale is also based on this article.

The source of Hotelling’s main street model is: Harold Hotelling, ”Stability in Competition”, The Economic Journal, 39 (1929), 41–57.

The Tale of the Three Tailors was part of a lecture delivered in Israel under various names (for example: ”Comments on the Failure of Competitiveness” and ”Equality and Prosperity in Israeli Society”).

Chapter 1

The discussion about the response to the epidemic example is based on: Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, ”Rational Choice and the Framing of Decisions”, Journal of Business, 59 (1986), 261–78.

The example of the lost ticket is taken from: Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, ”Choices, Values, and Frames”, American Psychological, 39 (1984), 341–50.

The pen example is from: Itamar Simonson and Amos Tversky, ”Choice in Context: Tradeoff Contrast and Extremeness Aversion”, Journal of Marketing Research, 29 (1992), 281–95.

The camera example is similar to examples that appear in the following two papers: Joel Huber, John Payne and Christopher Puto, ”Adding Asymmetrically Dominated Alternatives: Violations of Regularity and the Similarity Hypothesis”, Journal of Consumer Research, 9 (1982), 90–98; and Eldar Shafir, Itamar Simonson and Amos Tversky, ”Reason-Based Choice”, Cognition, 49 (1993), 11–36.

The example of the dice is taken from: Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, ”Extensional versus Intuitive Reasoning”, Psychological Review, 91 (1984), 293–315.

Chapter 2

The initial part of this chapter is taken from a lecture entitled ”John Nash, Beautiful Mind and Game Theory, ” which I presented in twelve places during the period 2002–2007.

Sylvia Nasar’s book cited here is: A Beautiful Mind (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998). See also: Sylvia Nasar, ”The Lost Years of a Nobel Laureate”, The New York Times (13 November 1994).

The Traveler’s Dilemma is taken from: Kaushik Basu, ”The Traveler’s Dilemma: Paradoxes of Rationality in Game Theory”, American Economic Review, 84 (1994), 391–95.

The treasure game is discussed in: Ariel Rubinstein, Amos Tversky and Dana Heller, ”Naïve Strategies in Competitive Games”, in Understanding Strategic Interaction: Essays in Honor of Reinhard Selten, ed. by Wulf Albers, Werner Güth, Peter Hammerstein, Benny Moldovanu and Eric van Damme (New York: Springer-Verlag, 1996), pp. 394–402.

The following books and articles are also mentioned in this chapter:

Avinash Dixit and Barry Nalebuff, Thinking Strategically: The Competitive Edge in Business, Politics and Everyday Life (New York: Norton, 1993).

John McMillan, Games, Strategies, and Managers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992).

John Nash, Nobel Autobiography:

John Nash, ”Non-Cooperative Games”, Annals of Mathematics, 2nd Ser., 54 (1951), 286–95.

John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern, Theory of Games and Economic Behavior (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1944).

Chapter 3

The presentation of the jungle economy in this chapter is based on the article: Michele Piccione and Ariel Rubinstein, ”Equilibrium in the Jungle”, Economic Journal, 117 (2007), 883–96.

In its initial version, the chapter was presented in a lecture entitled, ”Introduction to the Jungle Economy”, Tel Aviv University (May 2003).

The proof of the existence of competitive equilibrium is from David Gale and was published in the article: Lloyd Shapley and Herbert Scarf, ”On Cores and Indivisibility”, Journal of Mathematical Economics, 1 (1974), 23–37.

Chapter 4

The beginning of the chapter is based on a lecture I delivered to the Israeli Sociological Society in February 2001.

The chapter draws from the article: Jacob Glazer and Ariel Rubinstein, ”On the Pragmatics of Persuasion: A Game Theoretical Approach”, Theoretical Economics, 1 (2006), 395–410.

For more on pragmatics, see: Paul Grice, Studies in the Way of Words (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989).

Chapter 5

This chapter is in part based on my following articles (all available from my personal webpage

”On the Problem of Wealth”, Haaretz, 18 December 2003.

”The Day after Privatization”, Yedioth Ahronoth, 12 February 2007.

”A World in Which Many People are No Longer Useful” (Viviane Forrester’s ”The Economic Horror”), Haaretz Books, 20 March 2002.

”Six Thoughts on Economics and Society” in The Root of the Matter, ed. by Rubik Rosenthal (Jerusalem: Keter, 2005).

”On Personal Responsibility”, Calcalist, 18 February 2008.


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