A Victory for Free Market Economic Signals


For months we’ve been frequenting a small chain bakery in the market hall at Lehel tér, the Metro stop nearest to our flat. Hungarian bakeries are seriously underrated, and we’ve really developed a taste for the croissants this one whips up — as easy on the wallet as they are delicious — so multiple mornings each week one of us will swing by to pick up a few. One is plenty for a meal, but they keep for a day or two, so we’ll stock up as much as supply will allow.

And that’s where our story begins — when we first started buying the croissants, we would get there fairly early in the morning mostly because we were still jet lagged and it was easy to do so. Every morning, there were four (4) croissants in the display case, and most of the time, we’d buy all four, figuring they just restocked from the back or something. One morning, however, I arrived a bit later, and there were only two croissants in the case. Not paying attention, I asked for four (“négy croissants”) and was greeted with a blizzard of Magyar out of which I decoded that what you see is what you can buy, so I went home with two croissants that day. And that encounter — minus the part where I asked for croissants that weren’t there — was repeated multiple times in the days to come. Some days I was there early enough to get all four, other times, three, two, one, or even on truly tragic days, none.

I took great comfort in those supply and demand curves I learned in ECON 211, however, absolutely certain that some day soon the great croissant wizards in corporate would notice that the Lehel tér location was consistently running out of croissants. My optimism dimmed, however, as the weeks and months rolled by with no change. “You can have as many croissants as you like, Gabor, as long as you want four or less!”

But today… we had an early morning meeting, so on our way back we dropped by, hoping that there still might be one or two left for a late breakfast. I was numb from shock when I saw the display case, so it’s possible that I only imagined the dove landing on my shoulder, but there were FIVE croissants in the case — at 10:00 in the morning! Wiping a tear from my eye, I bought three, and staggered happily out into the sunlight of our first true day of spring.


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