Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Fractional Reserve Speed Dating

If you don't know what "fractional reserve banking" is, don't worry.

It just means you're successful with the opposite sex.

That being said (and not to ruin your chances with the opposite sex), "fractional reserve banking" is the idea that a bank will take a depositor's money, lend most of it out, while still allowing for the depositor to fully withdraw that money at any time.  Ergo the bank only holds a "fraction" in reserve of its depositors' monies.  The reason this works is because it is very unlikely EVERY depositor will come into the bank at one time and withdraw ALL of their money.  Therefore banks only need to hold a fraction of total deposits to allow for daily withdrawals here and there, while lending out the rest and making money on it. 

There are many criticisms of a fractional reserve banking system.  Most notably that the banks are "creating money" by lending out money that already has a claim on it and technically isn't theirs to lend out in the first place.  But the larger point is that the true amount of money in the economy is only a fraction of what all the bank's electronic records say there is.

Naturally, you would think money is the only commodity that can lend itself (pun FULLY intended) well to a fractional reserve system, but in my trials and tribulations in life as a SAEG (tm) I have come upon another commodity where fractional reserving is done, and it isn't in banking.

It's in speed dating.

Many years ago I gave speed dating one shot.  I walked into the joint, dropped my $35 down along with 7 other men and for that $35 we got to meet 8 other women for 5 minutes a piece.  The one date that I did manage to score out of this escapade brought her gay male friend to chaperone, which prompted me to dance with pretty much every other girl on the floor but her.  Gay-chaperoned dates aside, the point was there was an equal number of men to women.  8 to 8.  For if there was a shortage on either end you would have too many of one gender chasing too few of the other.

But something interesting occurred after the speed dating event was over.  As some people headed to the bar, I decided to approach one of the girls I was interested in and chat her up a bit.  Using a simple approach I said,

"You ever done this before?"

She said,

"Yes, but technically not tonight."

Curious, I said,

"Why technically not tonight?"

And her response was one for the Economics of Dating history books.

"Well, the guy who runs this speed dating thing always has too many men and not enough women.  So he calls us when he has extra guys and we just fill in and act like we're interested.  If women don't show up, he can't sell as many tickets so he buys us drinks as compensation."

Kind of curious about the math, not to mention I just wanted to see how screwed over me and the other 7 men were, I asked,

"So how many women were plants?"

She said,


I was more or less speechless, but the cynical side of me let out a cynical "Heh, what will they think of next?"  Seeing she herself was a plant, I just walked away, went to my car and left.

Naturally I was somewhat upset at this little bit of trickery.  What was sold as a way for 8 men to meet 8 women was in reality 8 men to meet 4 women.  In short a fraction of the women that were truly available.  But by cheating the system of sorts, the host of the speed dating was able to "create" women just like banks "create" money and profit from this newly created asset.  He just had to pay them interest in the form of free cocktails (and no doubt the ego tinglies of leading poor saps on).

Now, could it have been this ONE speed dating racket doing the fractional reserve dating?  Of course, but unlikely.  No doubt this is the case all over where there is higher demand on one side (the men) than there is supply on the other (the women) and it doesn't take a genius to faux-fill the market to equilibrium, profiting off of such said market manipulation.  The problem this presents men, however, is one of trust and reliability.  Given it is a fact women are less interested in dating than men there will always be that threat and likelihood a significant fraction of the women in speed dating are merely plants there to extract your money.  And given this risk it makes speed dating a losing proposition to the average guy whose $35 would be better spent on groceries, rent, gas, utilities or plastic pigeons.  So once again learn from the experiences and mistakes of the ole Captain.  Don't bother with speed dating.

Besides, even if you're one of the lucky few to land a date, the best thing you'll manage is one of them highly-coveted and much-sought after "Gay-man-chaperoned dates."

You can follow the Captain on "the twitter" here.

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