I'm trying to find a short (~100 page) book by Herbert A. Simon in which he presents a simplified economics in which there is only one item of value and it is called the 'Bread-brick'. One can eat a breadbrick, or sell it, or store it, etc. He uses this simple world to illustrate certain topics in the study of economics. I have been looking for it for ages, and I don't know the title. I've googled endlessly, and perused all Simons books on google reader but I have come to nothing.

  • $\begingroup$ I was under the impression it was "bread bricks" too after watching a Marvin Minsky video $\endgroup$
    – Douglas
    Jul 13, 2018 at 19:45

1 Answer 1


It is my impression that it is "bean-bricks" and it is not a book but a paper/essay under the title "The long-range economic effects of automation", which was included in the book

HERBERT, A. S. (1965). The Shape of Automation for Men and Management.

Go to the on-line digital library of Carnegie Mellon University

and enter in the search "The Economic Effects of Automation" (without the "long-range" part). It (freely) downloads what appears to be a first version of the work (20 pages). The file may appear to not be a .pdf one, but I opened it with .pdf software alright.

At the end of page 9 Simon writes:

"In our hypothetical economy, only a single commodity, which we shall call beanbricks, is produced. Beanbricks serve both as the sole consumption good (they are eaten), and as the sole form of capital (they are burned as fuel used in producing more beanbricks). The other productive resource in the economy, besides beanbricks, is labor".

It does look like it is the first time Simon uses the term (the file is a scanned copy of Simon's manuscript).

P.S: Note that standard economic models of growth essentially assume exactly the same framework, since output is costlessly transformed into capital or becomes consumption.


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