The Toilet Paper Economy

The Corona Virus has exposed a very American fear – the fear of running out of toilet paper. Americans are hoarding toilet paper. Why, is the question many are asking as toilet paper is plentiful across the country. It is easy to blame it on the Corona Virus. But the hoarding of toilet paper gives us a glimpse into the psyche of Americans.

It is the toilet paper economy.

For many years, economists have used McDonald’s as a barometer of the economy of the world. The reason being that McDonald’s products are consistent across the world, thus making it easy to compare economies across different cultures and many monetary systems.

Basically, a McDonald’s burger has the same ingredients and costs associated with selling it making it easy to compare how much someone pays in one country with what some else pays in another country.

A while back ago while talking to a few friends I opined that using Starbucks as an economic barometer was an easy way to tell how the economy was doing. News and the stock markets are reactive to noise. To truly understand how Americans feel about the economy, I argued that if Americans were spending $5.00 for a cup of coffee then they were confident in the economy.

In other words, a $5.00 cup of coffee indicated that Americans were comfortable economically.

On the other hand, if Americans stopped going to Starbucks then their confidence in the economy was dismal. People stop spending disposable income when they are economically distressed.

All it takes to understand how Americans feel about the economy is to see how Starbucks is doing. Are the stores empty? Is Starbucks offering discounts? The answers give us a simple barometer as to how the American economy is doing.

Now the Corona Virus has offered us another economic barometer.

Rather than feeling economic distress, the “toilet paper” barometer signals that Americans have lost confidence in the American economy.

The toilet paper economy is one where Americans aren’t just being frugal with their money. Rather, Americans are panicking by hoarding toilet paper.

The panic can only come from one place, the complete loss in America’s ability to weather the sense impending doom.

Americans are scared. As such they hoard toilet paper.

It is important to point out that hoarding toilet paper seems to be an American thing. I am not aware of other countries facing toilet paper hoarding.

A quick note on the posts for the next week. I had planned on being off-grid with the family during the Spring Break. As many readers know, we go off-grid in our Jeep and trailer. We are not going off grid because of Corona! Because my access to the Internet will be limited over the next week, or so, the upcoming posts will be posts I created beforehand. The Corona Virus issue has the likelihood of making news which may, or may not be reflected in my posts this week. If late-breaking news happens and I have the opportunity to, I will jump in and opine on it. In the meantime, be safe and stay well.

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