By Arnold Kling
By the end of 2004, almost 14 trillion frequent flyer miles had been accumulated worldwide, worth between 1p and 6p apiece.
According to a new analysis by The Economist magazine, the global stock is worth more than $700bn (£370bn), more than all the US dollar bills in circulation, and streets ahead of Britain’s £42bn of notes and coins.
I must have unusually strong liquidity preference, because I can’t stand frequent flyer miles. What I hate most is when I wind up stuck at a dinner table between two people comparing their strategies for accumulating miles. Toenail fungus would be a more interesting topic.
Speaking of unnecessary administrative overhead, my new pet peeve is mail-in rebates. I just got some “free” stuff with a new computer–that is, “free” with mail-in-rebates. For some reason, each item has two rebates–how I am I supposed to send the original copy of the UPC sticker to two addresses in two different states? And they all require a copy of my store receipt, my phone number, my email address, my children’s birth certificates, 3 cereal boxtops, and my grammar school transcript.
My new rule is this: never accept anything with a mail-in rebate that you would not be happy to buy without any rebate. That way, if the rebate actually were to arrive, it would feel like a…well, like a rebate.
For Discussion. Is the large volume of frequent-flyer miles outstanding an indication of their value–or the lack thereof?