The price of toilet paper triggers a panic in Taiwan

Mar 01, 2018


IN ANXIOUS times, political leaders try to assuage fears. So it was this week when William Lai, Taiwan’s prime minister, appealed for calm after a run on that most essential of goods, toilet paper. Reports of looming price increases had started the panic. When local television and newspapers featured stories about people stocking up, even more rushed to the shops to follow suit. Supermarket shelves were stripped bare; tissue paper and kitchen towels were also snapped up. As the frenzy spread, Mr Lai assured the country that supplies would be more than sufficient to meet needs.

The mess began on February 23rd when Taiwanese retailers, including several supermarket chains, said that toilet-paper producers would increase prices by as much as 30% in mid-March because the cost of raw pulp had gone up. The announcements aroused suspicions of collusion. On February 27th the Fair Trade Commission met with three toilet-paper suppliers and five retailers to look into...

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