Maintain Prices at an Appropriate Level
This means to maintain the prices of goods at an appropriate level. It was an economic measure used in ancient China. Specifically, designated official positions and agencies were established which controlled certain important materials. These were sold when market prices were excessively high and bought when prices were excessively low. In this way, merchants were prevented from profiteering by hoarding goods, and prices were kept steady. Implicit in this approach was the idea that government has a responsibility to regulate markets. It did so by using economic measures and market actions; the goals of market regulation by the government were to suppress private monopolies, ensure balance and fairness, safeguard the interests of the general public, and ensure economic and social stability.
Offices under the minister in charge of tax revenues, the state monopolies of salt and iron and state finances are responsible for having stocks of goods from all over the country. They sell when prices are high and buy when prices are low; hence rich merchants will be unable to profiteer, trade will return to normal and there will be no great fluctuations in any prices. Because this is done to smooth out the prices of all goods, it is known as “smoothing prices to a set level.” (Records of the Historian)