The Double Coincidence of Wants

Thailand, payment on the water
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The phrase "double coincidence of wants" was used in Jevons (1893). "[T]he first difficulty in barter is to find two persons whose disposable possessions mutually suit each other's wants. There may be many people wanting, and many possessing those things wanted; but to allow of an act of barter there must be a double coincidence, which will rarely happen." That is, paraphrasing Ostroy and Starr, 1990, p 26, the double coincidence is the situation where the supplier of good A wants good B and the supplier of good B wants good A.

This point is relevant in economics because the institution of money gives an economy a more flexible approach to trade than barter, which has the double coincidence of wants problem. The double coincidence of wants is also sometimes referred to as the dual coincidence of wants.

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