NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Water is a resource like any other and if you don't price a resource properly, then you get perversions in the system. That's what is going on in California, says Stephen Dubner, co-author of the latest Freakonomics book titled 'When to Rob a Bank.'
"There are parties in California, both agricultural and political, that have water rights that have been grandfathered in below the true market price," says Dubner. "That's what causes over-consumption and abuse and why the people who should be able to get water at the proper price are not able to."
Dubner and economist co-author Steven Levitt don't tackle the California drought in their new book, which is a collection of some of their favorite posts on their highly popular Freakonomics.com blog. They do, however, offer their unique perspectives on a wide range of subjects including bank robbery.
"The highest success rate for robbing a bank is in the morning, but most bank robbers work in the afternoons, which leads you to believe that they are either not very smart or maybe they have a hard time getting up in the morning, which is why they don't have a steady job anyway," says Dubner.
The average bank robber knocks over 3 banks before getting arrested, Dubner said, and the average take is only about $1,500. In other words, the return on investment for bank robbery is dreadful and bandits may want to choose another target. Or quit crime entirely.
Another interesting theoretical case in the book asks how much Pepsi would pay for Coke's secret formula. And while one would think that Pepsi might pay a substantial amount for Coke's iconic formula, Dubner says that's not the case. According to Freakonomics, the best thing Pepsi could do with Coke's recipe is lose it.
"Pepsi and Coke have a nice duopoly for the most part," says Dubner. "If both companies made Coke, then it would make generic cola as valuable as the others, which would erode all their pricing power."
Speaking of pricing power, Dubner and Levitt also tackle the concept of legalizing prostitution in the book. Dubner says the prostitutes whom the pair talked to were mostly in favor of legalization because it would make things easier for them in terms of legally filing their taxes. However, they were worried about their ability to charge enough for their services.
"They know they would make less money if prostitution was legalized because once something goes from a black-market good to a legal good, the pricing power diminishes," says Dubner.