Say I am selling a pack of trading cards, and there are 5 cards inside. Four of these cards are basic cards, but the last card has a 1:10 chance of being a special insert card.

Does the fact that the special insert has a 1:10 chance of appearing mean that it is ten times as valuable as a base card?

I understand that value is almost entirely subjective, so I suppose this is a philosophical question more than anything else, but I'm also not really an economist so I don't know if there are any axioms around this.

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    $\begingroup$ There really isn't any such thing as intrinsic value, things are only what people will pay for them. $\endgroup$
    – BKay
    Oct 31, 2016 at 16:51
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    $\begingroup$ The diamond-water paradox may be helpful to illustrate how modern economists think about value. $\endgroup$
    – Paul
    Oct 31, 2016 at 21:44
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    $\begingroup$ @BKay intrinsic value exists and it is called preference $\endgroup$
    – Yorgos
    Jan 2, 2017 at 21:08

2 Answers 2


(1) What value an item has to you depends on your preferences, not scarcity.

(2) The market clearing price of an item will depend on the preferences of market participants and the supply schedule ("scarcity") of the item.

The way you seem to be thinking about value is very "non-economic", if that's a word.


Things that are rarer are more valuable in an Economic sense if its demand to supply ratio is greater than other items.

In other words, some things are really hard to find, but no one cares about it anyways, so they aren't mode valuable.

The comment from Paul above is your best bet to see things that are rare and valuable. But the common sense is: rarity only implies greater price if there is scarcity of supply for an existing demand. And no one pays more than its derived marginal benefit for anything.


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