Daily NK reports rice prices falling

According to the Daily NK, the price of rice in North Korea is falling faster than the purchasing power of the Won.  My congratulations to the few individuals who no doubt figured out how to short North Korean rice (borrow it, sell it, then buy some more at the new lower price to pay back the loan). For the poor North Koreans who bought into the bubble at its peak, as many North Koreans of modest means might have, they now know what it feels like to own real estate in the US. Unfortunately, there is no insurance, options, or other hedges available for North Korean entrepreneurs to diversify their holdings, so asset bubbles probably hurt much more than in developed economies.

From the Daily NK:

An inside source from North Hamkyung Province said in a phone conversation with Daily NK on June 19, “Some people started hoarding huge volume of rice after hearing the rumor that the price of rice would go up as high as 5,000 won/kg. However, these people are now suffering heavy losses as the price has plunged dramatically lately. ”

The source said that around mid-late March this year, the price of rice started rising and a rumor began to circulate in the market that the price of rice would rise as high as four to five thousand won per kilogram. It was about that time when people with big fortunes started stockpiling rice, which further contributed to the increase of rice price, the source said.
“Around the end of May, rice price started falling dramatically because another rumor began to circulate that rice aid from foreign countries would arrive at Nampo Port and merchants, upon hearing the rumor, rushed to bring out their rice for sale,” the source said. “Right now, those who borrowed money from family and relatives to hoard rice are going crazy over the situation,” the source added.

As of June 17, the price of rice in major border cities of North Korea ranges between 2,100 won/kg and 2,500 won/kg. In fact, the price of rice dropped almost by half in the last one month.

This is not to suggest that food is now plentiful in North Korea and we are seeing a necessary downward adjustment in prices, but rather a demonstration of the volatility of North Korea’s markets.  Prices disproportionately rise and fall on rumors because there is no way to easily verify information.  North Korea has neither a mercantile exchange, futures contracts, nor an effective communications or transportation system.  Simply dealing with these initial problems would go a long way towards stabilizing and rationalizing food prices. 

UPDATE: On June 9, a Good Freinds report was published in Yonhap which indicated China increased its quota on food exports to the DPRK.

To read the full article, click below:
Rice Price Falls by Half, Bringing Misfortune to Traders Hoarding Rice
Daily NK
Lee Sung Jin


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