[ExI] German microeconomics hospital novel

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Mon Mar 30 17:25:11 UTC 2009

Easy economics through the eyes of nurse Helga
by Aurelia End
Sat Mar 28, 11:11 pm ET

BERLIN (AFP) A cheesy love story dripping with kitsch: Doe-eyed 
sister Helga falls head over heels for handsome surgeon Robert. It's 
not the kind of story you would expect to find in an economics textbook.

"Sister Helga. You maximise my happiness" is German author Thomas 
Hoenscheid's latest novel and an eccentric attempt at teaching 
struggling students the basics of supply and demand.

The work of fiction has "silky-haired", "long-legged" Helga falling 
in love with broad-shouldered Doctor Robert, and being driven to 
despair in her tireless mission to conquer his heart.

Helga portrays the traditional smitten bimbo, intrigued by family 
secrets, dismayed by risky surgical operations and enchanted by 
idyllic strolls in the spring breeze.

But the surgeon of her dreams is not the moral and humane doctor he 
appears to be. Instead he is a money-driven businessman, only 
interested in maximizing his profits and minimizing costs.

Devastated, Helga plunges into the world of microeconomics in a 
desperate attempt to learn what goes on inside his head.

A ginger student casts light on the basics of Marxist ideology, and a 
natter in her hair salon spells out the theory behind the mechanism 
of price-fixing in a competitive market.

Abandoning her former bubble-headed self, the nurse becomes a 
die-hard fan of the free market. A family outing turns into an 
"afternoon of Pareto optimality," sending her into a simplified state 
of perfect well-being.

Before treating a sick child, she evaluates whether or not to nurse 
it to health, concluding that its "depreciation" would be "writedown 
on a long-term investment."

Realising that the loss of a child is also the loss of "spezifisches 
Beziehungskapital" -- relationship capital -- Helga reassures the 
mother that she will recover as soon as she finds something more profitable.

Hoenscheid even ventures into the unexplored terrain of theoretical romance.

"Helga! I love you. Would you like to enter into a long-term 
contractual agreement, declaring that we will exchange material and 
sentimental goods?"

"All extreme economic theories, like Marxism and the ideal of the 
perfect free market, seem ridiculous to me," author Hoenscheid -- an 
economics graduate who was "initially slightly left" but later 
"became more liberal" -- tells AFP.

"I remember that my university lectures were all rather dull," he 
says, adding that his book is targeted chiefly at "students who need 
help with their revision."

And despite the kitschy style, the theories are indeed all rather 
complex, consisting of difficult mathematical explanations and 
technical passages.

Hoenscheid, who finished writing his novel in June, is proud of the 
outcome but does have one regret.

"If I would've waited until Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, I could 
have added a section about bankers and the financial markets."

Nonetheless, if the story of Helga proves to be a hit, Hoenscheid 
promises to launch into his next project.

"A book on macroeconomics" -- financial issues at state-level, 
including unemployment, investment, inflation.

Helga, he explains focuses more on microeconomics and the behaviour 
of individual stakeholders, like businesses and consumers.

"Perhaps I will make it a police novel, or a country romance set high 
up in the idyllic Bavarian Alps," he adds.

Copyright 2009 Agence France Presse. 

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