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The power of incentives

By Tom Nuttall  

A couple of news stories today help illustrate some of the more unexpected consequences of the vast price rises some commodities have experienced over the past few years—caused largely by increasing demand in the rapidly growing countries of the developing world. The New York Times reports that enterprising thieves in Leicestershire have been stripping rural churches of lead strips in their roofs. The motivation for these bizarre acts of theft is the sky-high price for lead on global markets; the metal is now worth seven times what it was just six years ago. (I’m reminded of a similar story a…

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