Let's see where economics and business ideas cropped up in HBO's Deadwood this week.
One of the big story arcs is the conflict between Al Swearengen and Bulloch. In last week's episode they came to blows and almost to murder. It appeared that it would continue that way this week when regulatory capture entered the picture. Again Swearengen followed economic principles rather than the emotional ones that often drive other television shows. Swearengen has been in a running battle with the government of the Dakota territory, which wants to take control of Deadwood, but hasn't been able to pull it off yet. He'd like to be able to capture the Dakota regulators (that is, align their interests with his own) but has so far failed. This week Al is told that the Montana territory is an alternative that may be interested, and that Bulloch may be their representative (he isn't, but this story fits Swearengen's paranoid view of Bulloch). On the chance that Bulloch is connected to Montana, Swearengen apologetically makes peace with him to obtain a foil to counter the interests from the Dakota territory. He knows that competition between the government agencies is likely to reduce the costs they end up imposing on him.
Cy Tolliver is still riddled with doubts about competition from the new brothel Joanie Stubbs is spinning off from Tolliver's own Bella Union Saloon. He offers his workers a bonus to indicate that he feels business will continue to be good. Implicitly this is a pre-payment of efficiency wages (that is, wages that are kept above market to promote loyalty and reduce shirking).
A couple of random prices also cropped up in this week's episode. Five dollars is the price to dispose of a body without burial (you probably don't want to know how). Two dollars will not buy time with a prostitute at Joanie Stubbs new upscale brothel; not sure what the price is at the ones run by the two saloons though.
See you next week.