Ce l’ho, ce l’ho, mi manca“—”Got it, got it, need it”—is the refrain that has introduced Italian kids to the joys of supply and demand for decades. It is the equivalent to the stock market’s “buy, sell,” but it accompanies the exchange of a very different, though similarly precious commodity: Panini stickers, which contain portraits of the football players taking part in the World Cup.

Kids play with their Panini sticker album Stock exchange of stickers.

This year, it will take 639 stickers, acquired in randomly sorted packets of five to seven and traded in playgrounds and on street corners around the world, to complete the set.

Collecting Panini stickers is all about anticipation of the World Cup: sticker sales peak in the five months before the Cup and actually decline during the event. Two months after each World Cup is over, no more of its stickers are distributed.

The trade in Panini stickers offers a (usually) gentle introduction to market dynamics. And it’s…

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