It is usual in economic theory to assume that consumers engage in only one type of economic activity: the purchase or sale of goods and services. The other activities in which they engage—window-shopping, swapping of recipes and advice, experimenting with new products, acquiring information on goods and services and on their prices and suppliers—are not considered to be significant aspects of behavior for the specific purpose of studying the market mechanism through which some scarce resources are allocated. The origin of the postualted action is simple: a consumer with given preferences and a given income faces a set of goods and services each of which can be traded at a given price; for each of these goods, the consumer can, taking his tastes, his income, and the prices of goods as fixed, determine the quantities he desires. If he has less than these quantities, he buys; if he has more, he sells.
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