Tuesday, April 21, 2009

eBay reduces looting -- maybe

There's a fascinating article in the May/June issue of Archaeology magazine, arguing that the electronic buying and selling of antiquities on eBay has actually reduced the looting of ancient objects, rather than fuelling it.

On a quick first read, it seems logically persuasive, with some caveats. One is that if eBay is expanding the market then even if fakes bring the prices down relative to what a market with lower level of supply would charge, the increase in the number of potential buyers might drive the price back up, leaving the incentive to loot about what it was before. 

A hat tip to Scott Rosenblum for alerting me to this.

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