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The Economic Significance of BRIs

Mar 7, 2010 • Thinking Economically • 87 Views    No Comments

When slicing a bagel, most people use a knife.  Others prefer the bagel guillotine or the Brooklyn Bagel Slicer.  With annual sales near 80,000, the bagel guillotine has been described as “history’s most successful bagel-controlling device” by its inventor.

In fact, during 2008, 1,979 bagel-related injuries (BRIs) landed people in the ER according to our government’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.  (At 3,464, chicken-related injuries are most common while wedding cake cuts, at less than 100, are rare.) Worried that litigious eaters would slice a finger, Lender’s pre-slices their frozen bagels.

In so many ways, bagel slicers take us to basic economics. We could begin with incentive propelling invention in a market economy.  We could go to the GDP and see that a bagel slicer adds to the value of goods and services we produce each year.  And, we can look at the federal budget for the cost of running the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.

Indeed, all of this relates to Adam Smith and the potential of a market system.

The Economic Life

The GDP has four components: Consumption Expenditures, Gross Investment, Government Spending, Exports minus Imports.  When we buy a bagel guillotine, it gets added to the consumption category.  If a bagel store or the government buys one, the cost is added to those components.  And finally, if any are sold beyond U.S. borders, it would appear in exports.

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