Magazine article Teaching Business & Economics

Credit Crunch Cheat

Magazine article Teaching Business & Economics

Credit Crunch Cheat

Article excerpt

This is a game which may be known to a number of students, designed to help them understand why people might compromise their moral standards in order to do the 'next deal' or why consumers might carry on buying goods even when they know they cannot afford them. It is a useful primer as part of a course of study covering the 'credit crunch', to help explain why bankers continued to trade sub-prime debt when at some level they must have understood the risk, why the auditors turned a blind eye to the scale and recoverability of sub-prime debt and why consumers took out loans which they could not repay. It is also useful when looking at behaviour such as insider trading and the actions of rogue traders, such as Jerome Kerviel, the trader who almost caused the downfall of Société Générale in 2008. The game can be referred to when discussing collusive behaviour in oligopolies.

Setting up the game - requirements

A group of 8-12 students.

Three packs of cards with, say, all the fours, eights and Jacks removed. Removing the cards makes it more difficult for students to play without cheating During the game it slowly dawns on some students that certain cards are missing and hence they know that other students are definitely cheating. A variation on the game can be played where, perhaps, one or two of the students are told which cards are missing.

A table around which to play the game.

Student briefing and rules

Do not tell the students that any cards have been removed. Tell the students that there are three packs of cards.

The rules of the game are that:

* cards can only be put down in runs, i.e. 2,3,4 or 5,6 etc.;

* runs do not need to follow on from each other;

* no doubles can be put down, i.e. 5,5 is not allowed;

* no single cards on their own can be put down;

* Aces are high and cannot be used as a 1.

Leave the students to shuffle and deal all the cards equally to all the players. Players in turn place cards face down in the centre of the table, announcing what they claim they are placing down, e.g. 'Queen, King'. The player who is first to get rid of all their cards is the winner, but students are usually happy to play on until there are about half of the players left. If a player places their cards down claiming, say, '5,6,7' and another player thinks that they are cheating, they may call out 'cheat'. The game then pauses and the last cards placed down are turned over. If they are as stated, i.e. 5,6,7, then the person who called 'cheat' picks up the pile of cards in the centre. If the cards are something different, then the person who cheated picks up the cards. The game then continues.

The game

During the game make notes of the students' behaviour. Some of the following are usually observed.

* Some students struggle to grasp how to play the game, because they do not have any runs in their hand and cannot quite believe that they will need to lie to get rid of their cards. These students often get rid of their best cards first and are then, very obviously, lying to get rid of the rest of their cards. The other students tend to either ignore this or always call that student a 'cheat', using that student as a smokescreen for their own cheating.

* Some students realise that it is better to lie early on and keep their best cards for later when they are desperate to get rid of their cards to finish the game. …

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