Are N95 Masks Essential Goods Covered by State Price Gouging Laws?

Should state laws prohibiting price gouging on essential goods and services apply to individual consumer purchases of N95 masks? The New York state law prohibits unconscionably excessive prices for “consumer goods and services vital and necessary for the health, safety and welfare of consumers.” My question arises because the CDC does not recommend that the … More Are N95 Masks Essential Goods Covered by State Price Gouging Laws?

Consumer Complaints in Massachusetts Fell in the First Quarter of 2020

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has been active fighting against price gouging during the pandemic emergency. Actually, she was on the case even before the governor issued a stay-at-home order on March 23, 2020. Three days prior to that AG Healey added anti-price gouging regulations to the state regulatory code under emergency powers. She has … More Consumer Complaints in Massachusetts Fell in the First Quarter of 2020

Against Anti-anti-anti-price Gouging

First let’s unpack the “against anti-anti-anti-price gouging” title to get oriented: Price gouging – a common name for price increases of goods in demand due to an emergency Anti-price gouging – common attitudes toward price gouging sometimes made into laws Anti-anti-price gouging – standard economics defenses of price gouging and opposition to such laws Anti-anti-anti-price … More Against Anti-anti-anti-price Gouging

Adam Smith and the Digital Economy: Connectedness and Gains From Trade

How can an 18th-century Scottish philosopher and economist help us understand the digital economy and our modern, hyper-connected world? That’s a question I’m tackling in a series of three essays at libertarianism.org. Digital technologies have increased our connectedness in profound ways. In the first essay I examine how Smith’s ideas about specialization and exchange combine … More Adam Smith and the Digital Economy: Connectedness and Gains From Trade

Job Change, and a Blogging Renaissance

  I’m pleased to announce that I have accepted a new position at Carnegie Mellon University, as Visiting Professor in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy, Co-Director of the Institute for Regulatory Law & Economics (IRLE), and Faculty Affiliate in the Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation, starting July 1. Founded in 2004 … More Job Change, and a Blogging Renaissance

Alchian and Allen, Opportunity Cost, and the Kid in the Candy Store

The new Alchian and Allen book Universal Economics is out. The publisher reports the authors have collaborated to produce a ”fresh, final presentation of the analytical tools” contained in their famous (among a certain kind of economics nerd) textbooks University Economics and Exchange and Production. In introducing the idea of opportunity cost in the new … More Alchian and Allen, Opportunity Cost, and the Kid in the Candy Store

Texas Price Gouging Law is Backfiring

Halea Walker and I have an op-ed appearing in the Dallas Morning News explaining that Texas’s anti-price gouging law comes with some unintended consequences. What I most want to say about price gouging laws is, in effect, “if you mess with price discovery, you’re going to have a bad time.” Unfortunately, that claim does not … More Texas Price Gouging Law is Backfiring

Richard Rhodes, “Energy: A Human History”

Richard Rhodes has written an amazing book. He aspired to tell the tales of energy transitions over the past 400 years. His Energy: A Human History accomplishes that task. The book is daunting in size for non-required reading. It is filled with brief stories of this or that device or discovery or development, and almost overwhelming … More Richard Rhodes, “Energy: A Human History”

The Uk Smart Meter Transition: Industry Structure, Market Power, and Interoperability

The UK government started an energy digital smart meter rollout in 2008, an “… £11bn scheme to put 53m devices in 30m homes and small businesses by 2020” to yield an estimated gross benefit of £16.7bn. Calling the rollout a disaster would be generous — it’s behind schedule, about £1bn over budget, and full of technical … More The Uk Smart Meter Transition: Industry Structure, Market Power, and Interoperability

“Any Aid Package, No Matter What Dollar Amount, is a Band-Aid on an Arterial Bleed.”

More stinging criticism of the agricultural industry harms from the Trump tariffs and the proposed aid package to offset some of those harms since my post about the dairy industry yesterday — this article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune is full of pointed arguments against them: Bill Gordon, a soybean farmer near Worthington, Minn., said his crop … More “Any Aid Package, No Matter What Dollar Amount, is a Band-Aid on an Arterial Bleed.”