I hear that toilet paper in Hong Kong is worth its weight in gold. Well it isn’t – I checked.
You hear it all the time when people talk about a luxury good or one temporarily in short supply: “It’s worth its weight in gold!”
Very few literally make the grade, though—particularly something an ordinary person might legally buy or consume. Rhodium and heroin don’t count. The latest product to attract the inaccurate label is humble toilet paper courtesy of the coronavirus epidemic, or rather the public reaction to it. A rumor in Hong Kong that supplies would be disrupted set off panic buying and shelves are empty. Supermarket chain Wellcome has instituted a purchase quota.
When shortages emerge bad guys soon sense an opportunity, and it was no different in the relatively crime-free city. Thieves stole 600 rolls with a retail value of $218.
Crime usually doesn’t pay, and it didn’t in this case, either. The thieves were apprehended. Had the rolls been literally worth their weight in gold, at least the effort may have been worth the risk. A typical 227-gram two-ply roll would have to be fenced for $11,895, though.
At that price, even a premium newspaper like this one would present an irresistible arbitrage opportunity for a bathroom-goer—and you could even read it first.