Acton Institute Powerblog

Acton economist: Too much grandstanding on price gouging issue

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, which made its initial landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast in late August, many are questioning whether price-gougers acted immorally when ratcheting up the prices of their goods. Now that Hurricane Irma is tearing through Florida and the Southeast, people are once again questioning the motivations behind heightened prices. Acton affiliate scholar Victor Claar, who teaches economics at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, points out in a Detroit News opinion piece that when prices spike, they “serve a rationing function: When any good or service is in short supply, not everyone will be able to get it. You may choose to deny this claim, but you cannot render it false.”

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette vowed not to let the state’s gas stations and distributors get away with price-gouging in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Schuette, Claar wrote, “was simply using the human tragedy in Texas as a platform for his own political self-promotion.” That doesn’t mean there weren’t supply disruptions of gasoline related to Harvey. But, Claar added, “Schuette is probably just employing the recent outcry against gougers as a way to remind Michiganians who he is and that he is relevant.”

Read Claar’s full article here.

Caroline Roberts

Caroline Roberts is a managing editor at the Acton Institute and produces Acton's weekly podcast, Acton Line.