Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Price Gouging

The Associated Press reports:

With gas prices increasing, New Jersey lawmakers moved on Monday toward toughening gas gouging penalties that haven't been changed since Franklin D. Roosevelt was finishing his first term as president.

An Assembly committee released a Senate-approved bill to boost the state's gas gouging penalty to as much as $3,000 per violation, compared to current law, unchanged since 1938, that brings fines as low as $50. The bill can now be considered by the full Assembly. It was approved 35-0 by the Senate in February.

Meanwhile, Democratic leaders are pursuing similar efforts at the national level.
On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi(D-Calif.) told the Energy and Commerce Committee to mark up a bill proposed by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) that would give the federal government more power to pursue accusations of price gouging.
A student asks me (and I paraphrase), "I understand the arguments that economists like you and Gary Becker make against anti-gouging legislation, but what about more left-leaning economists? Are they also opposed to such regulation?"

I believe the answer is yes, but I could not think of a good reference off the top of my head. Does anyone know of a well-regarded economist of more moderate or liberal views opining on these anti-gouging laws? Please post your citations in the comments section.