Veblen Goods, Giffen Goods, NFTs, and the Current Economic Climate

3 min readJul 21, 2023

Veblen and Giffen Goods

Veblen goods and Giffen goods are outliers in economics, contradicting the conventional law of demand.

  • Veblen Goods: These luxury items, named after American economist Thorstein Veblen, see increased demand as their prices escalate. The primary rationale is that high prices convey status, prestige, or exclusivity, propelling their desirability, contrary to the norm of diminishing demand with increasing price.
  • Giffen Goods: Named after British statistician Sir Robert Giffen, these inferior goods see increased demand as their prices rise. A staple commodity for low-income consumers, a price hike in Giffen goods diminishes purchasing power, leaving consumers no choice but to buy more of the cheaper Giffen good and less of other costlier commodities.

The Correlation Between Veblen Goods and NFTs

Veblen goods provide a compelling framework to understand the surging phenomenon of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), digital assets built on blockchain technology to ensure ownership and authenticity. NFTs have a broad spectrum of applications, ranging from art and music to real estate and virtual goods.

Similar to Veblen goods, NFTs garner their value from exclusivity and status signaling. For instance, Beeple’s artwork “Everydays: The First 5000 Days,” sold for a record $69 million, indicating the high status associated with owning such NFTs.

Likewise, Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), a collection of unique ape NFTs, has seen a similar trajectory, propelled by its exclusivity and high pricing. These NFTs confer membership to an exclusive online club, enhancing the status associated with owning them.

Analyzing the Current Economic Climate and the Downhill Trend of NFTs like BAYC

In the current transitioning global economy, marked by a slowdown after years of growth, various factors play a pivotal role. These factors include inflationary pressures, supply chain disruptions, labor market dynamics, and the enduring impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This economic volatility is driving a shift in investor behavior, making them more risk-averse, which significantly impacts the NFT market, inherently speculative and volatile.

While the Veblen effect has propelled NFTs such as BAYC, it’s critical to understand that the Veblen effect alone cannot sustain a market. As economic stability dwindles, the appeal of Veblen goods (or Veblen NFTs) may also decline as investors turn more cautious.

Liquidity is a crucial factor for the market of NFTs like BAYC. Skyrocketing prices can deter potential buyers, reducing liquidity and potentially leading to drastic price drops.

Interpreting the Dynamics of Veblen Goods and the NFT Market

Understanding Veblen goods offers a valuable framework for interpreting the NFT market dynamics. However, one needs to consider these dynamics in the broader context of the global economy.

Even though exclusivity and prestige associated with Veblen goods (or Veblen NFTs like BAYC) can increase demand and price, they aren’t immune to economic downturns. Market challenges can diminish the demand for such assets, leading to price corrections.

The future trajectory of NFTs like BAYC will hinge on various factors, including global economic stability, investor sentiment, and the evolving role of digital assets in our societies. While the present trend may appear to be declining, the innovative aspect of the NFT domain suggests potential for surprising developments ahead.

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Blockchain and Backend Developer, Privacy Advocate, Crypto Enthusiast. Twitter: ruisiang_tw