Dear Economist: What About Bob?


Over drinks last night with Tim Harford (who writes the excellent Financial Times column Dear Economist), I mentioned the post below about Bob Geldof's displeasure at the reselling of Live 8 tickets on eBay.

Tim observed, first, that the nontransferrability requirement was part of the rules of the contest to win tickets, so he is certainly entitled to insist that people not sell them. But Tim also pointed out how counterproductive the requirement is: Part of the value of the ticket (and hence the incentive to pay the three bucks a chance to win a ticket costs) is the ability to resell it. Forbidding resale therefore depresses entry, lowering the available funds to underwrite the costs of the concerts and fund aid programs. Similarly, a rule allowing only one pair of tickets to be won by any individual decreases the marginal value of each additional entry chance bought, discouraging repeat entry.