Markets in everything China fact of the day

This is from the excellent Seth Roberts, now in Beijing:

The 2008 China International Petroleum Equipment and Technology Exhibition concluded last Friday in the eastern city of Dongying. 3000 guests from over 40 countries attended and everything appeared to run smoothly. Yet the majority of the foreign delegates were hired just to make the event look "international". Among the 200 fake delegates was Jez Webb, The Peking Order‘s energy correspondent.

Most guests had responded to an ad on with the curious title: “Free trip to Shandong, 200 foreign visitors invited (Be paid)”. We would, depending on our age, receive between 600 and 700 RMB (£60-70) for two days “work” – two 6 hour bus journeys to and from the city, full board in a luxury hotel and a couple of hours walking round an exhibition, pretending that we were involved in the petroleum industry.

You’ll note the monopsony market structure behind the offer.  The story is full of interesting further detail.


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