I have loved Seinfeld ever since college, when as an RA on duty I spent many a Southern Michigan weekend night watching the show with my fellow on-duty RAs.
The Bottle Deposit held particular interest for me, both culturally and economically. As a Northern Ohioan, the mythical Michigan Deposit Run loomed near. Like Newman and Kramer, many Ohioans dream of making it big on 10 Cent Deposits. And, as a temporary Michigan resident, the math finally worked!
The economics of the bottle deposit also fascinated me, so much that a fellow RA even wrote about it for a public finance term paper.
Since then, I have become an Excel and modeling fan, giving me yet another angle to explore this episode.
The linked workbook is a cost-benefit financial model of taking a load of cans to Michigan. I use Excel’s awesome WEBSERVICE and FILTERXML tools to calculate distances between locations (courtesy Google Maps API) and to get real-time fuel prices from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
I took a few liberties from the show’s original plot, which the workbook explains. It is a dynamic financial model — play around, have fun, and let me know what you think.
Like any of my blog posts, I consider this a Minimum Viable Product, meaning my emphasis is on sharing and learning rather than crafting something perfect the first time.