The Sushi Economy

On the plane back from Central America the other day I read a good article in Vanity Fair called “If You Knew Sushi“. It details the worlds largest fish market – Tokyo’s Tsukiji. Many investors can relate to this type of frenzied greed:

Occasionally tuna mania overtakes an auction. Hiroyasu Ito, the president of Chuo Gyorui, the biggest of the wholesalers and auction houses in terms of sales volume, tells me of a January morning in 1999 when an Oma tuna came to auction through his firm. It appeared to be the perfect tuna, a vision of true kata.

Ito-san remembers that the auction started modestly at ¥9,000, or about 75 bucks, per kilo. “And then ¥10,000, ¥20,000, ¥30,000, and ¥40,000. And then three men wanted that tuna very badly.” The bidding among them escalated furiously. “At ¥50,000 per kilo, one of them gave up.” The remaining two continued to compete. “Ninety thousand, and then ¥100,000 was the last.”

The tuna weighed 200 kilos. At ¥100,000 per kilo, the possessed bidder had paid ¥20 million—the equivalent of more than $170,000—for a fish whose parceled meat could never recoup that amount.

Tsunenori Iida remembers that unfortunate winner very well. He was a very wealthy man who was driven to have the most expensive tuna. He went bankrupt, Iida-san says, is out of the business, and is seen no more.

I then ordered a new batch of books for the Summer, the first is sushi related and the second two are on Bill Miller’s reading list:

The Sushi Economy
Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside
The Halo Effect

Now, if anyone is in LA and wants to take me to dinner, I’ve always wanted to goto Urasawa. . .