Friday, November 25, 2005


That's what we call it around my house -- the utterly useless gift you get from your Aunt Matilda who lives half a world away that you send to someone else in lieu of buying it yourself. The Economist ran this story a few years ago on economic research showing how much value is destroyed by Christmas. But markets work best by moving resources from lower to higher-valued uses, and the presence of eBay is helping Aussies recover more of the lost value.
With Australians expected to spend between $600 and $1000 each on Christmas presents for friends and relatives this year, many people are resorting to selling items on auction websites such as eBay to raise money for the festive season.

"By the time you add up gifts for friends, family and the kids and food, Christmas costs a lot of money and selling things on eBay gives me the opportunity to raise more money to cover that," four-year eBay veteran Shauna Wood said.

"With the extra money coming in, I can splurge on nice gifts for my friends and family.

"And the great thing is you can sell off all the crappy gifts from last year."
Chances are Ms. Wood's relatives are scouring eBay trying to see if she's selling their gifts. Given my father and sister are both eBay power sellers, I've adopted a different strategy, as my roommate in grad school said it best.

Cash. Offends. Nobody.

Hat tip: Mark Steckbeck.