You've got to pay the market price not just whine about nationalism


To the economist the definition of rent seeking is rather wide. It's really the attempt to secure a privilege in some manner, a way to corner something, free from that awful competition of the market. It being, of course, that awful competition of the market which reduces profits, thus seeking that protection leads to increased profits flowing to those who achieve the protection. Our example today is French vignerons.

As an official sponsor of France's Tour de France, there might seem worse choices than a wine named Bicicleta. But its discreet "Made in Chile" label has struck a sour note with French winemakers, who are threatening to block the three-week bicycle race unless it is replaced with a home-grown beverage.

One amusement to note:

The sponsorship contract has been in place for the last two years, with Bicicleta wine promoted in Britain at the opening stages of the 2014 Tour, and in Holland and Belgium last year during stages in those countries.

But Languedoc-Roussillon winemakers said they had only very recently become aware of the deal.

Light may have a certain speed, news travels rather more variably. And there's good reason why the French regard this region in the same manner we do darkest Dorset or the nether regions of Norfolk. Somewhat rural might be the polite way to put it.

But to the claim:

“It is unacceptable to allow the Tour de France organisers to promote a wine from Chile," the Young Farmers group (JA) said on its website. "They should be supporting only French produce."

The Tour is an entirely commercial operation, the sponsorship an entirely commercial matter. What the wine makers are insisting is that, on those grounds of produce nationalism, foreigners should be banned from such contracts meaning that locals can get them at cheaper prices. That is, this is rent seeking on nationalist grounds.

And, as with all other forms and types of rent seeking, there is only one correct answer: on yer bike sunshine.