“The Problem with Price Gouging Laws”

This always seem an area where most folks don’t get the economict’s point of view.

Michael Giberson

Regulation magazine, Vol. 34, No. 1, Spring 2011

Regulation magazine, Vol. 34, No. 1, Spring 2011

The Spring 2011 issue of Regulation magazine carries my article, “The Problem with Price Gouging Laws.”

One bit:

Economists and policy analysts opposed to price gouging laws have relied on the simple logic of price controls: if you cap price increases during an emergency, you discourage conservation of needed goods at exactly the time they are in high demand. Simultaneously, price caps discourage extraordinary supply efforts that would help bring goods in high demand into the affected area. In a classic case of unintended consequences, the law harms the very people whom lawmakers intend to help. The logic of supply and demand, so clear to economists, has had little effect on price gouging policies.

One of the reasons I’m fascinated by price gouging is that it involves a tight tangle of economics, moralizing, ethics, psychology, law and public policy. Most economists are persuaded by the supply and demand argument. Many non-economists rebel at the idea that merchants should be free to raise prices on goods that are in high demand due to emergencies. Working out good policy in this area presents some interesting challenges.

“The Problem with Price Gouging Laws”
Michael Giberson
Mon, 21 Mar 2011 13:06:41 GMT


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