Crisis Prices: The Ethics of Market Controls during a Global Pandemic

Journal Article

SARS-CoV-2 has unleashed an unprecedented global crisis that has caused the demand for essential goods, such as medical and sanitation products, to soar while simultaneously disrupting the very supply chains that allow individuals and institutions to obtain those essential goods. This has resulted in stark price increases and accusations of price gouging. We survey the existing philosophical literature that examines price gouging and identify the key arguments for regulators permitting such behavior and for regulators restricting such behavior. We demonstrate how the existing accounts are designed for localized emergencies rather than global persistent crises such as the coronavirus pandemic. In light of this, we highlight an understudied justification for price gouging that is much more salient during global crises: incentivizing increased production of essential goods. Furthermore, we pinpoint three conditions that help determine whether authorities should restrict price gouging during the coronavirus pandemic and similar global crises.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Finestone, K; Kingston, E

Published Date

  • January 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 32 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 12 - 40

Published By

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2153-3326

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1052-150X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1017/beq.2021.15


  • en