When a villager notices a fellow villager is hungry it tosses food to them without charge or an immediate transaction of goods and services; we never see a villager throw down three emeralds for five peaces of bread or anything like that. This seems to imply a credit economy among the villagers when dealing with their kind; they do not expect the favor to be returned immediately but know one day sense it helped out its village the village will help it.
Things are complicated when you, the player(a strange foreigner), desires something from the villager; the villager can't just give you something and expect you to return the favor one day or pay it forward to benefit of the entire village so the villager charges you because you are not part of the village.
If only reasonable inferences like this based on villager trading and behavior could be made, but the dismal AI and absurd economic structure make such real-world comparisons difficult. It's like Mojang had some great ideas (e.g., market saturation), but then stopped short of following through with them It seems to me, they left all these villager ideas in the temporary, "rough draft" stage, which, knowing Mojang, doesn't surprise me in the slightest.
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My short story-like journals; quick-and-easy reads: