Price Gouging and Market Failure

New Essays on Philosophy, Politics & Economic: Integration and Common Research Projects, Gerald Gaus, Julian Lamont and Christi Favor, eds., Stanford University Press, May 2010

34 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2009 Last revised: 8 Jun 2013

Matt Zwolinski

University of San Diego; University of San Diego School of Law

Date Written: November 21, 2009

Abstract

Price gouging occurs when, in the wake of an emergency, sellers of a certain necessary goods sharply raise their prices beyond the level needed to cover increased costs. Most people think that price gouging is immoral, and most states have laws rendering the practice a civil or criminal offense. But the alleged wrongness of price gouging has been seriously under-theorized. This paper examines the argument that price gouging is morally objectionable and/or the proper subject of legal regulation because of the context of market failure in which it occurs. It argues that even if claims of market failure or true, they do not generate these normative conclusions.

Keywords: price gouging, market failure, exploitation, price system, markets

JEL Classification: D41, D43, D45, D61, D63

Suggested Citation

Zwolinski, Matt, Price Gouging and Market Failure (November 21, 2009). New Essays on Philosophy, Politics & Economic: Integration and Common Research Projects, Gerald Gaus, Julian Lamont and Christi Favor, eds., Stanford University Press, May 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1510508

Matt Zwolinski (Contact Author)

University of San Diego ( email )

5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492
United States
619-260-4094 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.sandiego.edu/~mzwolinski

University of San Diego School of Law ( email )

5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492
United States

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