Market economy with Shanghai characteristics

The law of supply and demand says the greater the demand, the higher the price. But in Shanghai, things do not always work that way.

I was at a coach station waiting for my ride to a cemetery in the suburbs. As the bus went only to the cemetery, it meant most, if not all, of the passengers would need flowers. Strangely, there was not a flower shop in sight, despite the obvious demand. The cemetery also sold flowers, but with a hefty mark-up.

Soon, a woman appeared with a cartload of flowers, which immediately attracted a crowd. The price was one yuan per flower (or 25 yuan per bundle), which was grossly overpriced, although a premium was justified because her merchandise was in scarcity. But as much as she understood the law of supply and demand, she was woefully unaware of the law of the jungle.

Instead of paying the full price of 25 yuan, the crowd simply force-fed her 10-yuan bills and snatched bundles from the cart. I suspect some, taking advantage of the chaos, didn’t even pay. Outnumbered, the woman could only watch helplessly as her goods were taken away. Her shouting and crying fell on deaf ears.

One of the robbers buyers said: “Even at 10-yuan per bundle, she already earns a big profit. One shouldn’t be too greedy!”

I’m sure he’ll do the opposite if he starts his own business.


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