Dead Pigs, Ducks And Now Black Swans: China's Animal Apocalypse Crosses Into The Twilight Zone

Tyler Durden's picture

First it was thousands of dead pigs floating in the Shanghai water supply (at last estimate over 16,000), then a thousand dead ducks were pulled from a river in the Sichuan province, and now, pushing the meme beyond even its most grotesque boundaries, we learn that five black swans were found floating lifeless on the pond of Anhui University’s old campus in Hefei, traditionally inhabited by a bevy of black swans. From Danwei: "The latest instance of floating dead animals in China – first pigs, then ducks, and now black swans – these mere five black swans became an object of heated discussion on the Internet right after the announcement was made. How did they die? Was it a natural disaster or another man-made one? As Star News tells us today, upon hearing of the news yesterday it immediately sent a journalist to the scene to find out exactly what happened. What he found was just one more filthy pond filled with oily water and garbage."

Ok, maybe there is no deep symbolism mystery to this latest black aflocalypse, which may be explained simply by unprecedented local pollution, unless of course many more "fat tails" continue keeling over in a very literal sense.

However, just when it appeared safe to discard the latest media reports of mass animal aquatic burials, an odd wrinkle appears, one which may tie the proverbial animal apocalypse room together.

Recall that as we have discussed repeatedly, the biggest bogeyman facing China is the importation of blistering hot money sourced by Bernanke and his printing brethren. While China may (or may not) be able to temper real estate inflation which has been the preferred target of inbound capital, the one place the Politburo certainly can not afford a price surge is in the cost of its most popular food product: pork. Should this key diet staple become unaffordable to the hundreds of millions of domestic consumers, the Arab Spring would seem like a balmy walk in the park inside a gated community. Which means that no matter what, the price of pork (and to a smaller extent soy) has to be kept as low as possible, especially with the upcoming delayed aftereffects of last summer's US corn drought which led to a mass liquidation of animals, especially pigs. Recall from last September that "The "mass liquidation" of animals - which Rabobank said will pick up pace in the beginning of 2013 - will contribute to food prices hitting new highs. The cost of pork is expected to rise at the fastest pace - by 31% by the end of June next year." Algos may have forgotten about this very key fact, but China sure hasn't.

So what are the Chinese behind the scenes powers doing about this potentially massive problem? Ironically, they may just be those responsible for the mass pig slayings witnessed in recent weeks. From Wantchinatimes:

The recent incident in which thousands of dead pigs were found floating in Shanghai's main river has further hit pork prices in China, with the sector already experiencing falling demand, according to local media reports.


Weekly data from the country's Ministry of Commerce released on March 20 showed that wholesale prices of pork has fallen for four consecutive weeks as of March 17, with the accumulated decline over the period touching 8%.


Pork prices in the country were undergoing a seasonal decline after Chinese New Year, but the recent scandal has rotted demand, Chinese business news site Caixin said.


Even United States Treasury secretary Jacob Lew ordered vegetarian dumplings instead of dumplings stuffed with pork when he dined out during his recent visit to China.


The Chinese government's guidelines on official conduct, including the restrictions imposed on holding official banquets, is another factor affecting pork demand, driving down prices to levels resembling a crash, Caixin said.


Figures posted by industry information website Soozhu showed that average hog prices dropped to 12.5 yuan (US$2) a kilogram on March 19, and the pace of its decline touched a near-decade high.


The National Development and Reform Commission, China's economic planner, said it is closely monitoring pork prices and would intervene if the market downturn persists.


E-commerce giant Alibaba's website covering the agricultural sector said pork has seen three market cycles during the past decade, with each cycle becoming shorter and price fluctuations becoming steeper.


Pig farmers began expanding capacity two years ago when pork prices surged, leading to the current situation of excess supply, local reports said.

Crush prices through revulsion about potentially spoiled meat? Not a bad plan, and one which so far may have worked. However, how long before the mean reversion wave sets in, and the deferred consumption of pork comes back with a vengeance? What happens when the artificial reduction of pig supply leads to a surge in prices once demand goes back to normal as the locals forget all about the recent floating pigs?

How much longer will the Politburo then be able to pretend there is no inflation in the one country where the food component as a percentage of overall CPI is a whopping 30%, compared to under 8% in the US?

And what happens to those key inflationary offsets once the rampant inflation wave strikes back with a vengeance? Recall that is was soaring Chinese inflation in early 2011 that set off the great scramble for gold as the local population was buying the shiny metal hand over fist, in the process pushing the price of gold from $1300 to $1900 in nine months.

The question then is: will the fading of the floating pig scandal from the collective memory be the inflection point when Chinese food inflation finally explodes, and takes the price of gold with it, and concurrently is the gating factor that forces the PBOC to demand at the next G20 meeting that the liquidity spigots in the "developed nations" be promptly shut or else.

It is surprising how much may depend on the fate of a few floating dead pigs: so much so that the concurrent death of black swans makes so much more sense, both literally and figuratively.

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THX 1178's picture

If inventories are getting so bloated that producers are dumping their shit in the river... that means demand "downstream" must be falling dramatically. Greenspan in his book "The age of turbulence" recounted how he predicted the recession of '58 by noticing bloated steel inventories industry-wide, signalling dried up deman by construction. So are inventories of these fuckin animals so high compared to demand that they are being dumped in the river? Is this a hint of a coming downturn. Is it different this time? It is my opinion that NO.

Manthong's picture

So what do pigs, cars and black swans have in common?

geez.. just asking -  it's not like it's real money or anything.

merizobeach's picture

Haha, fuck you, China!  The sooner you collapse, the better for the rest of the world.

willwork4food's picture

Seriously dude, you need to crack open a history book and get your brain cells working on more than just kiddie porn.

CPL's picture

Think you are eating pork.  Guess again.   Don't eat yourselves....literally.

knukles's picture

So there was an article somewhere about the "New Calamari" which is really a pork sphincter muscle sliced into real thin rings and....

Richard Chesler's picture

Chinese black swans or burned chickens?

CPL's picture

Wait for it pussy.


All enjoyed the favor of


I am unable to detect humans being feed to humans.

fourchan's picture

chinks and jews destroying to world one baby and jewbuck at a time.

zhandax's picture

I am still trying to guess who thought there was any price significance to Treasury secretary Lew the jew ordering vegetable dumplings instead of pork.

The Big Ching-aso's picture

Pigs, ducks, swans, what's next, people?   Oh, wait.

Manthong's picture

hmm.. that's a tasty looking nutritious bit of green..


pods's picture

Would that be New Calamari Tossed Salad?


merizobeach's picture

Suck my dick.  Oh, wait, you're not a bitch--you're a faggot; nevermind.

I live in the "other" China, you stupid shithead.  The only thing that will inspire me to party harder than the collapse of the PRC will be the collapse of your USuckAss.

willwork4food's picture

Ah, as I guessed. You are definitely college material.

May I suggest University of Pheonix online?

merizobeach's picture

You moron: go ahead and waste your own time pursuing paper degrees. Running my own business requires nothing of the sort.

OptionNinjaNYC's picture

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ihedgemyhedges's picture

Was one of the black swans later identified as Nassim Taleb????

merizobeach's picture

The first one to die was named Bradley Manning.

MrSteve's picture

During the USA's 1930s Depression, ag prices fell below the cost of production. Photos of milk cans being dumped in a ditch and hogs being buried in a trench were published, showing the plight of the small farmer. Does the mass dumping of farm animals show a similar market collapse in China or were the animals diseased and unable to be sold, requiring the cheapest disposal possible?

16,000 dead pigs in the middle of the river is a noteworthy event, biological or economic. Neither is good.

THX 1178's picture

I suppose the only sensible reaction to take is to say IDK.

american eyedol's picture

no deflation here, can't have falling asset prices,,,,no good

Tijuana Donkey Show's picture

Ship them to the UK, they are down to dog and chicken blood..............

Lordflin's picture

Dumping 16000 pigs in a river doesn't sound like disposal as much as a message...

A Lunatic's picture

To bad it wasn't 16000 banksters. That's the message that needs sending........

scatterbrains's picture

It only just occurred to me late as it iz to the hog story..  what are the odds that this hog slaughter is some form of biological warfare designed to ramp food inflation ?  and on the outside chance that it is who would be so inclined to attack China this way?

espirit's picture

Prolly noone on their continent.

nmewn's picture

"Kill all the Black Swans and the country is saved!"-Wang Chung Krugman

hannah's picture

wait til the chinese pull 16,00 dead bloated bankers from the river......

nmewn's picture

Now that would be something to see...or St. Paul walking across them to the other side ;-)

american eyedol's picture

we no longer need manufacturing,,,,,,,, do people meet at bars anymore? i constantly have girls sites on each side advertising girls and guys from any country i do and try to click on all the ads to help fund zero hedge.


marquette and arizona are #winning

James's picture

american eyedol- couple of things you could do about those ads you get.

1.Quit going to porn sites before cumming to ZH.

2.Continue going to porn sites before cumming to ZH but clear your cookies first.

3.Use adblocker

This has been a public service announcement.

                     frikkin' newbs

TPTB_r_TBTF's picture



4. Take a quick look at the cuties and

5. then click on the icon for the Enjoy Reading add-on.

nmewn's picture

Thats another thing Yen, some have completely lost their sense of humor.

Socio-economists (like Krugman) are the worst...they never had it to begin with ;-)

kaiserhoff's picture

Speaking of which, has anyone checked the autopsy reports for polonium?

nmewn's picture

Not in the last 138 days ;-)

willwork4food's picture

The winds?Nice catch. I never thought of that possibility.

lolmao500's picture

How come no post on the Korean situation?

espirit's picture

MSM Blackout.

Son there.

american eyedol's picture

we always have mystery missles launch, cyprus is kind of new ground for everyone, along with all kinds of dead animals. Think new

hannah's picture

so the author thinks china will FALL if the people starve...?...hasnt he read chinese history....../sarc

american eyedol's picture

china is very sound right now but eventually we are all a bug on a windshield

W74's picture

30 million in the early 1960s and nothing happened.  And that was back when the population was under 600M.

Matt's picture

Mao took 100,000 people on the Long March, 90% died along the way, and the people were inspired by this.

kliguy38's picture

The real black swan will come out of nowhere....and no one will be prepared for it........not even us

lolmao500's picture

Wrong. You don't know what the black swan is by definition... but you can prepare for it's effects... by prepping.

american eyedol's picture

whats the difference between dead animals in water supply and wheat in the states that makes me deathly ill after i eat it,,,,

pods's picture

I know!

You know you aren't supposed to eat rotting carcasses floating down river!