A Box of Chocolates

By Andrew W. Liang

Profiting from Harvard Square

A store closes in Harvard Square. Tributes flood in, recalling fond memories of afternoons spent in a coffee shop, or a warm bowl of soup on a cold winter night. Inevitably, the topic of rising rents in Harvard Square comes up, and many conclude that some greedy landlord was responsible for pushing out yet another historic establishment. It seems that they do this stuff for fun. The story becomes even juicier when we remember that, lately, a few of these landlords have been investment firms. Yes, now the narrative is shaping up well: wealthy investors are destroying local businesses.

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Transactional Experiences

A few weeks ago, as I was seeing Morocco with a few friends, we decided to get away from the coastal cities and visit the full interior of the country. Luckily, we found a driver online who was willing to take us. The deal? For several hundred U.S. dollars, he agreed to drive us more than 22 hours across three days, from the country’s coast to the southern border — and then back. The full drive traversed mountain ranges, limestone canyons, and the world’s largest non-polar desert. The terrain was insane; a one-way trip inland lasted roughly 12 hours, if you didn’t take too long for lunch.

In between naps and gazes out the window, I couldn’t help but think of the remarkable nature of this transaction. Here was a man we had never met before. Yet, he drove us — at times, more than 10 hours a day — across an entire country. He was a citizen who’d never been beyond his nation’s borders, and we were three college students from another continent. The one thing we knew we had in common? A single price upon which we agreed.

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