Markets in only a few things

North Korea, of course:

The professor even told of a shop in which human manure could be traded to be used as an alternative to chemical fertilizer, an item on which the North had heavily depended from the South for years.

"Skinny jeans, blue crabs, pig-intestine rolls" are now all actively traded in the Hermit Kingdom.

For the pointer I thank a Bulls fan.

Comments

I initially read it as North Korea was heavily dependent on human manure from South Korea, which gave rise to some funny thoughts until I reread the passage.

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What about the market surrounding trade (what little there is) with China? The simplicity affording by North Korea's isolationist stance actually makes it an ideal real-world example of basic theories of comparative advantage.

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Any manure from a meat eating animal is a poor substitute. The best alternatives are compost or manure from vegetarian animals. While human manure has been used for centuries, I hope the manure being used is from people that eat very little meat. That is most likely the case with the North Korean peasants, yet it is a sad case in the modern world.

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