Elephants engage in Mengerian indirect exchange

At the main Pondicherry temple, an elephant will bless you — by tapping its trunk on your head — if you hand it some money.  Of course this is a temple elephant and it is also a Mengerian elephant.  The elephant has no use for money but understands that it is a general medium of exchange.  The elephant hands the money over to the temple authority and is later rewarded with food.

The elephant is not merely trading, but it is engaged in indirect exchange and thus in monetary economics.

There is in fact a sign up forbidding such Mengerian transactions, but the elephant seems not to notice it.

And yet this is not the end of the story.  In many parts of Tamil Nadu, temple elephants have attained so much prosperity through Mengerian indirect exchange, and been able to consume so much leisure, that now elephant obesity is a more serious problem than elephant malnutrition.


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