Any time a natural disaster strikes, you don’t have to wait too long for libertarians to start talking about two things: price gouging and broken windows. Since I’ve written a bit about the former topic, and since, sadly, “Superstorm” Sandy has made it relevant again, I thought I would round up some of the more recent and relevant material on the topic.
For a brief overview of the topic and the basic economic and moral case in defense of “price gouging,” you can watch this video that I made with Learn Liberty:
Obviously, the philosophy and the economics are both more complicated than I’m able to address in a short video like this. So, for those readers willing to dig a bit deeper, I recommend taking a look at my paper, “The Ethics of Price Gouging,” which looks more closely at questions about how gouging ought to be defined, its legal status, and its relation to moral concerns about exploitation. I take up that last issue again, somewhat briefly, in this paper, which responds to a critique of my position by the philosopher Jeremy Snyder.
This video, featuring economist Daniel Smith, discusses some relevant issues regarding the role of economic freedom in Joplin, MO’s recovery:
Finally, for the economists out there, take a look at Tyler Cowen’s recent discussion of some issues relating to price gouging and elasticity of supply. And for frequent and fascinating updates on the topic, be sure to follow Michael Giberson’s treatment of the topic over at Knowledge Problem. His latest post on whether anti-gouging laws are more likely to be applied against “outsiders” raises some especially fruitful questions for future research – listen up, PhD students!