Sudden shortages shouldn’t be a surprise
Ah, the good old law of supply and demand – one universal market law that’s as relevant now as it was when people first started regularly getting together every full moon (or whenever) to buy, sell, swap and barter with their friends, neighbours and customers from outside their village.
Prices, says the law, will always move higher in times of waning supplies, assuming demand stays constant.
But in these days of selfies, Twitter and Facebook, as soon as someone catches the first whiff of diminishing supplies that’s it: a few taps on a smartphone screen and the news is out. And then the panic starts, so what used to be constant demand increases exponentially.
An example? Just a few days ago a customer walked into his local bank branch in beautiful downtown Yancheng, in Sheyang County, China … and asked to withdraw the local equivalent of around $30,000 in cash.
When the bank refused that request, news of that refusal went viral and within minutes, hundreds of customers, thinking the bank had run out of money, were banging on the doors there, demanding to withdraw their cash while they still could.
Thus the power of social media.
But it’s not just Chinese currency that looks like it’s in short supply these days.
Here’s how much the price of limes has gone up since this time last year: from $15 per case then to just about $100 now.
However, there are more shortages going on at present – at least in the States. But then again, when one economic giant sneezes, it’s not too long before the rest of the industrialised world catches a cold.
For example, there’s an incubator shortage over there, a propane shortage, a helium shortage, a water shortage … a shortage of apples and coffee beans and – of course – the upcoming orange juice shortage thanks to those pesky Asian citrus phyllid bugs.
So … somewhat less natural vitamin C in the States means it looks like there’s going to be a lot more sneezing over there next winter.
And for people in nearby countries, it could be that the best way of avoiding a cold would be to curl up and stay in bed with a friend – unless you happen to live in Cuba, where apparently there’s a serious shortage of available condoms.
Which means current pricing models really ought to to look a bit further into the future, just in case of a sudden, surprise shortage … of anything.