Chinese Economics Joke

Person A to Person B: “See that piece of shit? If you eat it I’ll give you 100 million yuan.”

Person B eats the shit.

But Person A doesn’t want to give him 100 million yuan.  He says to Person B: “How about I eat shit too? Then we’ll be even.”

Person B agrees.

Person A eats some shit. “Now we’re even,” he says.

They have just increased GDP by 200 million yuan.

10 Replies to “Chinese Economics Joke”

  1. Paul, this joke reflects the common belief that the government cares too much about GDP and too little about living standards. For example, a lot of Chinese GDP involves infrastructure — building roads for example. A little-used road contributes little to living standards. So it is complicated. A well-used road contributes a lot to living standards in the future.

  2. You could make the same argument for the US re: GDP.

    I think it also illustrates the confusion of cause and effect in economics. It seems the current administration and many before it, believe that consumption drives economic growth (“go out and spend and help the economy”). It’s economic growth, through savings and production that drives consumption.

  3. The joke is wrong, even in joke terms. They increased GDP by zero. If both had eaten, and each paid the other 100M yuan, _then_ GDP would have increased by 200M yuan.

  4. Person B gave person A an IOU with a face value of 100 million yuan. Person A later used it to pay his new debt.

    Hey, it works for Social Security. Oh, wait…

  5. This like my favorite Polish joke.

    Stan and Lev are walking home from an evening out, a bit unsteadily. Stan spots a little frog by the side of the road, and says, “Lev, I’ll bet you five zlotys you won’t swallow that frog.”

    Lev is thinking how he has spent too much, and how an extra five zlotys in his pocket would make for an easier morning at home. He snatches the frog and gulps it down. Stan hands over the money, and they walk on.

    As they walk, Lev imagines he feels the frog jumping in his stomach. He starts to resent having been tricked into swallowing a frog. After a few minutes, he spots another frog, just a little bigger, and says, “Stan, I’ll bet you five zlotys you won’t swallow that frog.”

    Stan is thinking that he really hadn’t expected Lev to swallow the frog, and that he really couldn’t spare the money. He swallows the frog. Lev hands back the five zlotys, and they walk on, each lost in his own thoughts.

    A few minutes later, Lev turns to his friend and says, “Stan, why did we swallow those frogs?”

    I gather that “swallow a frog” sounds really funny in Polish.

  6. Chinese reports of their GDP are about as credible as the reported age of their female Olympic gymnasts.

    Find evidence to the contrary of any reported figure, and it will magically begin disappearing on official government websites.

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