An economics professor uses the run on toilet paper to explain bank runs

One of the strangest manifestations of the threatened coronavirus epidemic in America is toilet paper hoarding.  Justin Wolfers, an economics professor at the University of Michigan, has put together a tweet thread explaining why people are hoarding toilet paper.  According to him, the motivation behind toilet paper hoarding is the same as the motivation behind runs on banks — people are afraid that, if they don't keep up with others who want the same finite resource, then the resource will be gone.

(Hat tip: Don Surber.)

That's a cute and clever analogy.  Taken at face value, it works perfectly to explain the fear that wealth may have permanently drained from an economy.  As for toilet paper, in the face of the current upset, it's not quite accurate.  That's because, in America, we know that, in the future, there will be more toilet paper.

Thus, the fear that's driving people other than profiteers crazy isn't that toilet paper will vanish entirely, a reasonable fear in a communist country or in time of war.  Instead, the fear is that people will find themselves quarantined at home for a period exceeding their existing toilet paper stock.

Even as we're stuck at home eying our diminishing supply of toilet paper, we know that our factories will continue to manufacture toilet paper.  Once it's made, our truckers will deliver it to warehouses across America, and from those warehouses, more truckers will take it to our local stores.  The stores will restock their shelves, and we will once again have our all-American soft tushie tissues.

At Conservative Treehouse, Sundance explains the mechanics of supply chains — that is, how goods make it from the warehouse to the store shelf. His point is that, short of a magic wand, there's no way retailers can restock shelves instantly, but they will be restocked.  Because this is America and not the Soviet Union, when people finally finish using the 200 rolls of toilet paper they bought in a panic-induced frenzy, their local store will once again have a shelf full of toilet paper.

However, here's some advice for those who lack strategic toilet paper reserves within their own homes.  Turn your toilet into a bidet.  It's dead easy.  Then you never need to worry about toilet paper again — and your derriere will thank you.

If you're still able to leave your home, your local hardware store will have the tools you need.  Otherwise, you can order things online.

And please, don't panic.  If worse comes to worst, get yourself off the potty and sidle over to your shower.  Your derriere will probably like that, too.

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