Posted On: Wednesday - January 22nd 2020 9:52AM MST
In Topics:   China  Economics  Socialism/Communism  Inflation
The image above, just one of Zerohedge's humorous pictures, was used here on our recent article A Porcine Crisis in China. In that article we described the problem the Chinese people are having obtaining pork at decent prices, as there was a big swine flu epidemic. This one, unlike the newest viral deal coming, seems contained within the porcine community.
That's a problem, though, as pork is not just "the other white meat" for Chinamen (AND women), but the favorite meat there. The've been hog-wild about it for a long time. I assume it's due to not having the huge amounts of open, level (within reason, that is) land for cows to graze in, therefore resulting in a taste for pork over the hundreds or thousand of years, if the people are to have any meat AT ALL I wrote the last part, because, old China history that I don't know about aside, the 40 years of hard-core Communism made meat a condiment more than a serious part of a meal. That's changed since "we got better", but this latest crisis will bring back old memories to older Chinese men and women.
I wrote this post out of some first-hand knowledge about the very recent situation some south-central parts of China, but then looked up more. The Bloomberg article I found, Chinese City Goes Back to Rationing to Curb Rampant Pork Priced is specifically about the city of Nanning* in Yunnan province, just N. of Vietnam. My information was from a different province there. Bloomberg says:
Vendors in 10 selected wet markets in Nanning, capital of the southern region of Guangxi, are selling pork cuts capped at a maximum price over the first 10 days of September, according to a statement posted on the website of the local government’s planning body. The most expensive, ribs, won’t retail for more than 32.2 yuan ($4.50) per half a kilo.Well, sure, that's a good bit cheaper than the $7 a lb. (OK, about $6.50/ 1/2-kg - a Jin, the unit they use on the street) that I mentioned due to personal knowledge in that previous Peak Stupidity post. Even though $4/lb is a lot of money for even the middle class pork-eating family in China (making $1,000 to $2,000 monthly), that makes it sound like things are looking up, porcinically. What's the catch? Is it the virtues of State control again? [/sarcasm] (... just in case in needed that tag)
There's that headline with the word "rationing", as I've translated** from the personal news of mine. That's the catch. See, a free market may have some price gouging going on when things become hard to get ahold of at the normal prices, but price gouging is just peachy to me. As we wrote in Price Gouging - Peak Stupidity is FOR IT. (see?), if sales come at higher prices because the stuff is hard to get, then more power to the gougers for getting off their asses and being entrepreneurial. You'll soon see others get in that game, trying to find new sources, of, in this case, pork, to get in the game. Prices will come down eventually.
But NO, NO NO, China's governments and the people there can not get that pig-headed Statism out of their heads for the lives of them. Now, harkening back to those days in the early 1980's (yes, still!), government rationing is supposed to divvy up what they've got of the pork "fairly". Again, from the Bloomberg article:
For many, rationing evokes the hardships of wartime, but China’s so-called planned supply method of distributing groceries harks back to its communist heyday of the 1950s. It was gradually abolished in the 1980s as supplies became more ample following economic reforms.That's one kilo per week if it's anything close to the information from my source. Shame on you Bloomberg, for leaving out this part of the units.
Each customer is allowed only 1 kilo of pork, the Nanning Evening News, a local government newspaper, reported on Sunday. The steps are necessary to control surging prices given the time it’ll take for pork production to recover, the newspaper said.
On the recovering bit, it'd go a whole lot faster if you'd let the free market work and not limit sellers of pork to prices they may not now make money on. Oh, well, back to meat as a condiment for a while. Old Chinafolks can reminisce about that sweet old world of Chairman Mao. "We walked to our jobs breaking big rocks into little rocks for the glorious roads for 10 miles, through the snow, uphill both ways. We got home, wiped our feet, swept more dirt onto our floor, set a piece of The People's coal on fire, and we got our cards and all went to The People's store as a family to get The People's beans, the People's rice from Mao's Iron Rice Bowl, and occasionally just The People (some call it 'Long Pig'). AND! WE! LIKED! IT!"
Young Chinawomen may not agree with their elders on this fondness for those good old days. "We have 2 children since lecently-lescinded 1-child poricy. My husband make good money. Here is 200-yuan - 6 Jin pork chops, chee-ing." "No can do, doesn't matter how much money, you have one card." "But, kids need protein. I pay you." "So sorry, 1 kilo ... abadee, abadee, that's all, folks!"
PS: I just wanted to add this part as related to the preference for pork over beef in China. My sources tell me that people do like the beef too, but some unscrupulous sellers pass of pork as beef. I don't know how you do it, but these people are nothing if not ingenious. Right now, there'd be no point.
"Let them eat cow!"
- Mao Wei Ahn Tran Eat
* Don't even ask if it's a "big city". Anything called a "city" in China is BIG, believe me. If there are under 1/2 a million, you live in a village.
** No, I can't translate much from Chinese, but I translated from an English version of the story that didn't use the word rationing, but involved rationing.