karl_lembke (karl_lembke) wrote,

An economist on gas prices

If I were Energy Secretary, and I were asked the question about "who is responsible" for high gasoline prices, here is how I would answer:

It's not really an issue of personal responsibility. You could try to blame the gas stations. After all, every gas station owner has the discretion to set the price at whatever level he or she wants. But suppose you owned a gas station and you decided tomorrow to cut the price by 25 cents a gallon. The first thing that would happen is that people would flock to your station, and you would sell all your gas. Then, you went out to buy gas to refill the pumps, you would find that the cost is higher than what you are selling it for. So everybody in the market, from consumers to gas station owners to oil company presidents, is subject to supply and demand.

If you're a homeowner, who do you think is responsible for the big increase that has taken place in the price of your home in the past five years? Do you think you colluded with other homeowners? Is there price-gouging going on?
Tags: politics

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