The new HBO series Deadwood is the richest source of economics and management insights that the legacy media have ever produced. It also won two Emmys and has been renewed for a second season. No word when that will be or whether the first season will be out on DVD.
BTW: no intention to offend anyone ... the show repeatedly uses the words whores and pussy, so I will too where it follows the show.
Here's what I got out of the first episode, which originally aired last spring and in repeats this past summer.
Prices Are Everywhere
The opening scene is an impromptu execution by the authorities to prevent a lynching - what most concerns the victim is that his family receive his boots ... probably his most valuable possession.
The scene shifts to Deadwood itself, where the rent on a corner lot where you may only put up a tent but no building is $20 per day. That is also the price of gold per ounce. Drinks are marked down to zero for the doctor, as long as he keeps quiet about the john that was killed by one of the whores. A barker hawks a free commode to anyone who checks out a certain store. But rooms at a hotel are expensive - E.B. Farnum, the owner, says you can't get one until tomorrow unless you kill a guest.
Later, prices of $12 for picks, $10 for knee boots, $15 for hip boots, $10 for shovels, and $8 for pans are announced.
Still later, the cost to fondle the whores is 2 touches for 15 cents.
And lastly, a lonely prospector named Ellsworth offers Trixie (one of the whores) $1 per minute to share his troubles with him.
With respect to purchases made at other places, new hardware store owner Sol Star remarks about the buyers "It ain't like something's been foisted on them. They'll be sorry about what they bought by sun up. Then to reassure his partner Seth "Montana" Bullock "These are quality items. They meet these folks needs. They're being offered at a fair mark up, and we're announcing their availability." Truer marketing words were never said.
A more fly-by-night retailer is offering $0.50 bars of soap alleged to contain $5 prizes.
Sol turns subtle when warning Seth quite literally that "Coming out with your fly down might strike the wrong note."
A Business Plan
Star and Bullock's hardware store offers no excuse exchanges; permanence is important too, "We'll be here for you to find us." Prices are set and posted, first come first served. Someone offers $2 to hold a pair of boots, Sol says yes, but Seth overrules him.
With regard to their business, Star remarks that they have used due diligence. He also remarks that Swearengen is likely to sell them a lot because he is a motivated seller. Swearengen in the antagonist of the series, and a maker of just about everything that happens in Deadwood.
A handicapped woman who works at The Gem (a saloon) also deal guns to the whores.
Bidding for a Derivative
A claim called "Nine Above Discovery" features heavily in the series. At this point, it is viewed as one with little or no potential - it has been explored a bit and found wanting.
The interested buyer is a rich Eastern dandy, Brom Garrett (today, finance textbooks actually call such buyers "dumb dentists"). The seller is named Driscoll. Swearengen is behind the sale: Driscoll owes him money, and he has a faux alternative buyer in E.B. Farnum (the hotelier). Swearengen encourages Garrett into a bidding war with Farnum, played up by Driscoll that pushes the price from $14K to $20K before Garrett closes the deal. Swearengen honors Garrett's letter of credit with gold, making one wonder how much private information Garrett gave away. Garrett later notes to his wife how he has exhausted his funds in three days.
Later, Driscoll settles with Swearengen. Driscoll is to get 30% of the price. First Swearengen notes that he didn't want the price bid from $14K to $20K (the excessiveness of which might raise eyebrows), and he doesn't feel that he should pay on that. Driscoll then reduces his claim to $500. But Swearengen holds Driscoll's gambling markers. Eventually, Driscoll settles for $20 and some pussy. Later, Swearengen has him killed in his sleep to keep him quiet.
A family of Swede's that fled the town are found murdered (a little girl is the only survivor). A small world phenomenon is displayed as the rumor that it was the Sioux sweeps town.
Calls for a posse are made in The Gem. This is a problem for Swearengen, who offers $50 per Sioux head starting the next day, but the next round for free that night, and half price pussy for the next 15 minutes. Bullock, Wild Bill Hickock and a few others ride out to examine the site, and close the show by winning a draw with the highwayman who did the deed.
Value of Celebrities
When Wild Bill Hickock comes to town, he is offered $50 per night to gamble exclusively at Nuttall's # 10, a small saloon.
See my earlier posts about Deadwood.