*Do Markets Corrupt Our Morals?*

That is the new book by my colleague Virgil Storr and co-author Ginny Seung Choi.  Here is a summary take on it, excerpt:

This book explores whether or not engaging in market activities is morally corrupting. Storr and Choi demonstrate that people in market societies are wealthier, healthier, happier and better connected than those in societies where markets are more restricted. More provocatively, they explain that successful markets require and produce virtuous participants. Markets serve as moral spaces that both rely on and reward their participants for being virtuous. Rather than harming individuals morally, the market is an arena where individuals are encouraged to be their best moral selves. Do Markets Corrupt Our Morals? invites us to reassess the claim that markets corrupt our morals.

Here is a Deirdre McCloskey blurb:

“Storr and Choi have brought economics and politics back to ethics, which should never have been left. Of course values matter. Of course markets smooth off the rough sides of humans. Of course ‘sweet commerce’ reigns, and should. Of course. But it took a brilliant book like this one to show it.”

You can order the book here.

Comments

Well, this should be an interesting comment thread.

Well, you were right. Of course, the smart money at MR usually takes that position.

Re the post, I agree but note that the well known observation in Timothy ‘For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.’

Exactly.

https://youtu.be/gokYOJHKObs

Irma la Douce: Le Grisbe Is le Root of le Evil in Man

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I suspect that "legalize prostitution" libertarians, if they like this article, are taking a rather narrow view of virtue.

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51 dead in August mass shootings. I suppose that fits in as well. "The right to buy anything I want."

200+ dead from texting while driving. But we don't care about those dead, right?

Don't care? I know a number of social and legislative responsees.

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'But we don't care about those dead, right?'

Isn't texting and driving illegal everywhere in the U.S.? Unlike assault weaponry with 100 round magazines (which are supposed to be quite inferior due to their apparent propensity to jam).

Shooting people is illegal too. We need to take cell phones away from drivers, even and especially the innocent drivers to protect the children (sob).

It occurred to me that you might provide this answer, but thought "no, he's not that stupid."

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What race was the mass shooter in Odessa? You get one guess.

White men need to call out members of their own community and teach them that murder is wrong.

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In 2016 there were 36,000 gun deaths in the US, including about 22,000 suicides and 14,000 homicides, of which 71 took place during mass shootings. There are more than ample reasons for gun control in the US; mass shootings don't happen to be one of them. Mass shootings are spectacles that drive emotional responses from TV and internet viewers; they are click-bait and clicker-bait. Those responses fade quickly as the news cycle turns. If we don't focus on the never-ending topics of suicides and general gun crime, we're unlikely to ever create the momentum for substantial change.

I would think additional common sense regulation of guns would be useful for all of those cases. Since so many of the homicides are criminals killing other criminals, I suspect that we could more easily reduce suicides first, then maybe mass shootings.

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The market of prostitution moralizes us and turns our vices into virtues.

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'whether or not engaging in market activities is morally corrupting'

Some Smith guy had some thoughts on that, but we all know he was a moral philosopher, and that has no place in economics as a profession.

'the market is an arena where individuals are encouraged to be their best moral selves'

Well, time to quote that moral philosopher, though one makes assumptions that Smith was a conventional type of virtue signaller (or proto public choice economist) when judging this passage - “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”

Maybe Smith meant conspiracy in an approving way, something worth writing love letters to.

He didn't say that moral people make the market. He said it worked the other way. Collusion as you describe is a way to manipulate the market to remove competition, so you don't have to be better.

There are lots of exceptions, mostly coming from asymmetries of information. But generally you have to do provide a reasonably level of service and satisfy the customer to survive in a market where the customer has a choice.

''Collusion as you describe is a way to manipulate the market to remove competition, so you don't have to be better.'

Not me, Smith.

'But generally you have to do provide a reasonably level of service and satisfy the customer to survive in a market where the customer has a choice'

Smith, being interested in moral philosophy, seems to be pointing out that tradespeople are interested in ensuring their customers don't have a real choice. A guild, which is most definitely part of a market through much European history, also ensured that customers had no real choice.

A guild system is in opposition to a free market, not an example of free-markets in action. And note that guild system depended on government enforcement -- on legal punishments of those who attempted to practice a trade without the proper government imprimatur. Collusion without government enforcement is unstable (it will be broken by 'cheaters' or new entrants -- see OPEC). But collusion backed by government muscle (as with the guilds) can last for centuries.

'This book explores whether or not engaging in market activities is morally corrupting.'

The authors of the cited text never use 'free market,' they just talk about markets.

'And note that guild system depended on government enforcement'

To the extent that often times the guilds formed the actual government, absolutely.

'without the proper government imprimatur'

Not proper government imprimatur, but proper guild imprimatur.

' Collusion without government enforcement is unstable'

As noted by Smith, collusion is an enduring feature of those egaged in trade, and in no way requires government enforcement.

'But collusion backed by government muscle'

Guilds often formed the government, so to an extent, it is better to say that guild collusion was backed by guild muscle.

"The authors of the cited text never use 'free market,' they just talk about markets."

If they don't mean free-markets then the thesis is ridiculous. Even the most totalitarian regimes with the most centrally planned and controlled economies have had some kind of markets (currency, goods bought and sold). But I don't think anybody is claiming that engaging in government-controlled trade in totalitarian regimes was morality enhancing.

"Not proper government imprimatur, but proper guild imprimatur."

A distinction without a difference. If a government is sending armed agents to arrest and imprison those who violate a guild's rules, then those rules have been adopted as de-facto laws (regardless of whether or not the leaders of the guild are also government officials).

"As noted by Smith, collusion is an enduring feature of those engaged in trade"

Yes, attempts at cheating are enduring in human societies. But individual cheaters and particular colluding groups do not last in free markets. Cheaters are discovered and shunned. Cartels are broken by members trading on the side and by new entrants. It is only when a cartel's monopoly is legalized, licensed and protected by government force can the cartel persist over generations.

I think it's very clear that the problem of government establishing and protecting cartels (thereby legalizing collusion) has been and continues to be a FAR greater problem than government failing to enforce rules against what we might call 'unauthorized' collusion. So governments routinely establish licensing schemes (invariably run by industry insiders) who erect barriers to entry in order to raise wages of existing license holders.

Obviously the 'smart' way to collude is to do it in partnership with government, making it entirely legal and putting the government's monopoly on force into service as the muscle.

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Morals corrupt our markets.

the connection between morals and markets is similar to chickens and eggs...what came first?

extended periods of prosperity bode ill for public morality

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The accumulation of wealth in a few hands coupled with the impoverishment of the rest leading to the ignominious division of humanity into the 1% and the 99% reflects the fundamental law of the market economy, OK ?

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"Of course."

Of course this all boils down to how you define "morals" and "ethics" and "values." Of course for many people, being transsexual and promoting transsexualism is among the most immoral things imaginable.

Who's promoting? Some folks are about tolerating, others condemning, others don't care one way or another.

and others are about promoting.

Name two.

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For 3% GDP growth you should all sacrifice your firstborns. Otherwise you are all being complacent.

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Well of course. As they say, intuitively obvious to the most casual observer.

I've only heard that said in one place.

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The market where Lehman failed is the standard equities market. That market is regulated to standard accounting practices, how does one get more honest then fair accounting rules?

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In First Corinthians, St. Paul said: "Markets have become all things to all people so that by all possible means markets might make some virtuous and rich at the same time." Peter Thiel and Peter Boettke (one of the commenters at the link) have the same first name and profess a faith in markets, but they have very different concepts of markets. Such is religion. New Testament scholars often refer to "Christianities" not "Christianity" when describing the early religion we know today as Christianity.

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I thiNk Markets, if not tempered by a sense of national union, can corrupt us. It is i portant that not everything be on sale, not everything have a price.

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It sounds as though the authors' point is that individuals who lack certain virtues will fail to thrive in a market-oriented society, so greater acceptance of markets by a society promotes these virtues.

A more cynical explanation occurs to me. Markets will develop, whether or not a society tries to promote or restrict them. But in a society that opposes them—the Soviet Union, North Korea, post-hurricane Florida—those who participate the most fully in black markets, and who derive the most benefit from them, are those who have the least regard for the rule of law. Such people are likely to have other moral failings, as well.

In other words, I'd suggest that the data be interpreted not as "Free markets require and thus promote virtue", but as "Restrictions on free markets give a competitive advantage to the vicious".

I would view that history differently. All through the Soviet years, the people were told that capitalism was theft. They were never given any parables of good merchants. And so they had both no expectation of fair treatment, and no obligation to provide it. So when communism fell, they promptly fell to capitalism as they understood it - everyone stealing everything in sight.

And of course the spillover is that successful thief-oligarchs now have a wider, and certainly unprincipled, impact on the world.

Beware their buddies.

The thief-oligarchs were largely the Communist aparatchiks who had already in place organizations of enforcers.

Not too different from the Italian mafioso who filled a void in the civil administration.

The morality that this article and Smith describes is one enforced by competition in a free marketplace. The vast majority of transactions are done decently and honestly between people who have choice. Of course there are exceptions. And oddly they get punished in a free marketplace.

An interesting difference between commercial construction for private customers vs government. For many reasons from the awarding process to the commercial exigencies the immorality that shows up is different. From shoddy practices to non payment, but they are different in the two spheres. Probably because the asymmetry in the power relationships. In other words, the conduct of the people involved is as the structure of the process is designed.

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The idea that the oligarchs would not have arisen had the Russians simply absorbed enough homilies about the superior virtue of the bourgeoisie and "good merchants" is laughable. As if America's capitalist class would have behaved with the slightest difference in that systemic situation. Yeah right they would have been forbearant (and I'm a Chinese jet pilot). "Bourgeois virtue" indeed!

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Agreed. Countries without markets still allocate goods, usually through connections and corruption.

The question that should be asked is what types of "goods" should we place in markets.

For example, should political policy be up for bid--should we place campaigns in a market where the initial distribution of wealth gets to bid on the candidate by making unlimited political contributions.

If you ask the Liberals in Canada they would say yes. A firm in Montreal known for bribery and corrupt practices facing prosecution managed to get legislation passed that permits special arrangements to limit the financial damage to a firm from prosecution. Then facing prosecution managed to get the prime minister to fire his uncooperative justice Minister. One wonders who they paid and how much.

The point you prove is that political payments for favors is corruption and will be prosecuted because it is illegal, and there will be consequences to a politician who ignores these norms.

In other words, political contributions should not be in the market for government policy.

Unless you are arguing that political policy should be up for bid.

Politician A takes a large total sum of money from millions of voters and redistributes it to a few multimillionaires, with the expectation that they'll give him campaign funds.

Politician B takes a large total sum of money from a few multimillionaires and redistributes it to millions of people, with the expectation that they'll give him votes.

So is one more corrupt than the other?

Is politician A likely to get away with it and be undetected by the millions of voters he/she depends on the next time.

Is Politician B dealing with multi-millionaires who will actually act against their self interest in distributing their money to millions.

Do you judge the end or the means to the end. Some means are more predictable in determining ends. You pick A or B. A is plausible and B is implausible.

How about

C: Millions of Small donors, no acceptance of dark money, elected by millions of voters represents the voices of millions of people.

D: A few millionaires finance the election, promising million voters, then fails to deliver, except to millionaire buddies living in the swamp.

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"For example, should political policy be up for bid"

No. 20 socialist presidency seekers hurt worst.

You have a dim view of your fellow citizens if you believe that without payment for policy or politicians by a few you would have socialism.

Well the 20 seem to all believe that buying off the electorate is the way to win. I'm just reporting the facts.

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I started with the idea that free exchange encourages good dealing, values, reputation, and therefore virtue.

And then MR readers came at me 1001 times that any belief in virtue is just signalling.

It's possible that kind of "modern conservative" has taken a wrong turn along the way.

That’s because you have no intent to live by the “virtues” you will force on others. It is power you seek. Not virtue or morality.

Actually it has happened when I've just mentioned that "I kicked a few bucks" to one cause or another. As if my example was an unbearable obligation.

"I kicked a few bucks.." "Virtue signalling!"

But it is also true that a certain sort of libertarian will reject democratic collective action on the same "you're not the boss of me" rule.

Basically anything you are fine with the government doing, is not oppression, anything you'd rather not pay for, is.

Childish logic, ignoring that mature citizens accept some stuff we like and some we don't as part of the democratic bargain.

But perhaps the democratic bargain, social contracts in general, are not really a part of libertarian virtue.

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"And then MR readers came at me 1001 times that any belief in virtue is just signalling."

Not at all. Nobody's sneering at 'virtue signalling' because they don't believe in virtue -- they're sneering because they believe that most 'virtue signalling' is cheap and fake and has no real virtue behind it.

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"And then MR readers came at me 1001 times that any belief in virtue is just signalling."

Just because people here believe you are dishonest doesn't mean we believe everyone is dishonest.

That is clearly the cheap way out.

"Hmmm, this idea upsets my priors."

"It is clearly dishonest! I get out of jail free."

It's sometimes harder, but more virtuous(!) to come up with an answer that works even assuming your opponent has honest intent.

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This would suggest that those in society most removed from markets - priests, charity workers, the retired students, academics, firefighters, soldiers and so on - are less likely to adhere to virtuous behaviour. That those who have income independent of markets are less likely to be virtuous.

But that's nonsense. Of course.

Cross sectional within a society > between societies or a single society over time.

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With great inequality of wealth comes great inequality in bargaining power. Hmm. Silver Thursday was an event in the 1980's where the Hunt brothers attempted to corner the silver market. It failed and eventually reduced their fortune from 5 to 1 billion. Perhaps it is a useful illustration of how even such things as commodity markets, considered to be close to perfect competition, might be manipulated, Almost certainly much more regional and specialized markets get targeted by various schemes all the time. The issue then becomes are markets a softer target for manipulation and corruption than the alternatives, and the argument from history seems to be strongly in favor of markets being ~much~ less corruptible. Silver Thursday failed in part because of the special introduction of a rule specifically to block it by the commodities exchange COMEX ('Silver Rule 7'), which is suggestive that ~some~ sort of regulation of markets is a good thing, though the example here is of a market exchange implementing the regulation and not a strictly governmental agency. Were the morals of the Hunt brothers educated, or did they just move on to better scheming?

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Though if we are looking across states, to use a simple example, look at residual measures of market freedom in a state after accounting for wealth and basic measures of freedom (the impacts of markets net their effect at making us wealthier and their correlation with democracy).

I bet you won't find a correlation of that residual with crime rates. If anything, less free market oriented societies at a given level of wealth will probably be less violent and dishonest.

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"This book explores whether or not engaging in market activities is morally corrupting."

I think there's a problem right there. Markets can *change* your morals - but 'corruption' is a moral statement. By the standards of someone whose morality has changed, they've not been corrupted. In fact, they could just as easily consider those who believe as they previously believed to be corrupt while they have not moved to the virtuous side.

So if the author is talking about how markets might be able to corrupt morals - that author is already putting a moral judgement on markets. A negative one.

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There are brakes that get put on markets even though they may not be illegal.

For example, this weekend may experience tornadoes. Do hardware stores increase their prices following the storm. Most do not because they value their reputation. In fact, some national chains, because of some individual states have laws on price gouging, have nationwide policies applicable to all stores. (Some stores, rather than raising the price of power generators, ship in the high priced model, which is the only one you can purchase.)

But, what is not detected and can't be called out easily are the more potentially damaging acts, which if you knew more about behavioral econ, you would see and be morally outraged about some practices.

For those practices, read Harvard economist and law Prof. Oren Bar-Gill's work re credit cards, cable plans, payday lenders, and mortgages. You might want to read his book: Seduction by Contract.

So, if you ask if do markets corrupt our morals: It depends on whether you can be detected and, if not, caveat emptor.

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Do hardware stores increase their prices following the storm. Most do not because they value their reputation.

So, of course, the stores run out of goods in short supply -- quickly bought up by irrational hoarders who turn out in droves for every emergency and run out and buy extras ('just in case') leaving nothing on the shelves. If prices were increased over normal levels, it would discourage hoarders, leaving some goods in stock for people willing to pay more because they don't have any at all.

But no -- the "regular prices, bare shelves" policy is the correct, moral one.

Actually, these stores advertise that they will be there for you before the storm and you should stock up now. The firm has an incentive to make more sales, so there is no incentive to be out of stock before OR after the storm.

Your assignment: PxQ=Total Revenue. Maximize Total Revenue over time before and after the event, and include risk of lost customers in the future if you appear on the news for having gouged the storm victims.

Also, give me the names of the hardware stores that follow the moral policy you espouse. You know why you can't tell me about them, because they recognize long term reputation effects from their behavior.

Hint: You will never be a manager of a national retail organization if you follow your "moral" position, or if you do, I would short sell your employer.

Actually, these stores advertise that they will be there for you before the storm and you should stock up now.

Of course, they do. There is no conflict in encouraging people to stock up before the emergency causes shortages. And to the extent that is successful, shortages will never develop and there will be no pressure on prices.

there is no incentive to be out of stock before OR after the storm.

You're missing a big piece of the picture. Storms are unpredictable. Sometimes they are expected to hit Florida, but they turn and strike the Bahamas instead. Bringing in extra emergency stock on short notice costs more and the merchant may be left high-and-dry with goods that they must pay to return or that can only be sold at a loss if the emergency doesn't occur or is less destructive than expected. Anti-gouging laws mean that merchants can't be compensated for taking these risks.

You will never be a manager of a national retail organization if you follow your "moral" position

I'm well aware that the demagoguery against 'gouging' has been successful. And your 'national retail organization' comment is interesting. Large national chains like Walmart and Home Depot can afford to and do treat emergencies as PR opportunities without much concern whether the extra costs they incur and the extra risks they run produce gains or losses. Independent local shop-keepers are not so fortunate.

But even with national chains whose size insulates them from risk, the inability of retailers to raise prices did, again, needlessly result in empty shelves.

Fortunately, we live in a wealthy nation where the chances of anybody actually dying from shortages during emergencies is nil. We're rich enough to weather all kinds of destructive policies (including anti-gouging laws).

Slocum, Think about this proposition: State passes anti gouging law which kicks in during civil emergency. Texas has one, not exactly a blue state. Now, GIVEN the law, and given PxQ=Total Revenue, maximize revenue.

You see, having a law causes firms to stockpile for the emergency and to have stock after it. By the way, social norms and fear of repetitional damage have the same effect as law.

Now, GIVEN the law, and given PxQ=Total Revenue, maximize revenue.

But maximizing revenue is not the goal for any business. Maximizing profit (while minimizing risk) is the goal. And price controls do not act to increase available supplies (before emergencies, after emergencies, during emergencies, or at any other time).

Your premise is that it is a price control when the store knows the rules before going in. If the store's location makes it likely there will be storms during the course of a year the price will be set accordingly.

As for maximizing revenue, MC is constant; we are looking at P. The suppliers of the store are not changing their costs of supply to the store, but the store has discretion in changing its P.

What you are talking about is increasing margin after the storm.

"Your premise is that it is a price control when the store knows the rules before going in. "

What? Of course it's still a price control if the laws are already known. There's nothing about price controls that makes them a problem only if they're a surprise.

"If the store's location makes it likely there will be storms during the course of a year the price will be set accordingly."

More fantasy. There are no places like that in the U.S. No communities are hit with multiple severe storms every year. No merchant in Miami or Tampa can charge higher prices all the time because there might be a direct hit from a big hurricane once every decade or so.

"MC is constant"

No, it's simply not. Bringing in emergency supplies on short notice costs more. What makes you think all suppliers are sitting on surplus stock that's ready to ship and don't have to ramp up extra shifts (paying overtime) or delay deliveries to other customers? And why would a supplier do either of those things if there wasn't extra money to be made? In what fantasy world can a retailer suddenly decide to order any quantity they want for immediate delivery and not expect to pay extra? And on top of that, the risk of being stuck with unsalable goods if the storm doesn't materialize remains potentially a big cost.

And if the storm does hit, a similar logic applies to resupply afterwards. If they can charge higher prices, some people will go through hell and high-water (sometimes literally) to bring in needed goods. But if can't, they won't go to the trouble.

In an emergency situation that temporally raises demand aren't empty shelves the desired results.
If you raise prices to assure that you still have unused stocks of the desired product after the emergency, what good does that do anyone?

"In an emergency situation that temporally raises demand aren't empty shelves the desired results."

No. Raising prices has the critical benefit of preventing goods from being distributed according to the 'whichever-panicky-hoarders-rush-the-stores-first' model. When prices are not raised, many of the goods end up in the hands of people who didn't really need them, but picked up plenty of extras just to be safe (Because, hey, why not? They're no more expensive than normal and we'll use them up eventually).

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Slocum, Here is the Behavioral Econ summary on this issue and repetitional effects on fairness. Some earlier work by Thaler:

https://voxeu.org/article/richard-thaler-nobel-laureate

I fully understand that there's currently a norm against 'gouging' and that retailers who violated would risk their reputations. I'm not suggesting they should violate the norm (and possibly the law) and raise prices anyway. I AM arguing that it's a bad, destructive norm (and that anti-gouging laws are bad laws) that should be tossed on the scrap heap.

Does that sound impossible? Maybe. But progress has been made. People have come to accept surge pricing for Lyft and Uber, for example, as opposed to the old 'anti-gouging' model where a taxi ride always cost the same, but you often couldn't get one. They also accept tickets being sold above face value on StubHub. It wasn't long ago that this was known as 'scalping' and was illegal in many places. People also don't lose their minds when hotels raise their prices during busy periods or when bars and restaurants charge extra on New Year's Eve.

And remember -- there was once a time when there was a strong social norm against money-lending and only certain minority groups willing to put up with the opprobrium did the lending. That was a very well-established, very long-standing norm, but it eventually vanished all the same.

One of the empirical questions today is the situation where a domestic manufacturer finds that it Chinese competitor suddenly has a 25% tariff slapped on it. The tariff will likely be temporary. So, does the US firm raise prices by 25% to its large or industrial customers? There is no price gouging law. What is the commercial norm?

What if it is a commodity market, customers purchase on spot market, and no long term relationships? Different result?

Econ man would say both should increase price by 25%. What would you do?

No, an Economist would not say 'both should increase prices by 25%'. You're glossing over countless complexities. First, a 25% tariff doesn't mean a 25% increase in the market price. How many other global suppliers are there? What's their ability to ramp production? What are the lead times and shipping issues? Are there close substitutes or ways to economize on the use of the product? If the tariff is expected to be temporary, the Chinese may grit their teeth and eat the tariff for a short period in order to maintain their market share. Is the relationship governed by a long-term contract or booked orders? Are we talking about a commodity or complex (possibly custom) manufactured item (like auto-parts)? There's no single rule or norm that covers all possible versions of this.

Tell that to Walmart or Target.

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If you want to assume away the problem by claiming its a small component of a larger item and therefore can be passed on, fine. If you want to assume there are other rivals who can increase production, fine.

It's interesting though that you mention all the variations and conditions, which then implies that a supplier would not pass on the full increase, or that a rival would not necessarily raise by 25% on the item in question.

These tariffs are likely viewed by the customer as short term. Ever played the Dictator game. When the game is played the next time where the other party is the Dictator what happens is that there is a time for revenge or reciprocity. In sales and marketing, a manufacturer will often ask for favors--promote this item now, take this extra shipment--and a dealer or distributor will as well, in deciding to participate in a program, etc. The point is: if something is not viewed as fair, what happens is that the next time some item is requested from the other party, it does not occur. Now, sellers claiming their costs increase is one item of communication; but a seller raising a price because of a competitor's tariff may be viewed an opportunistic and not a collaborative act. It all depends.

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By the way, I am not saying that firms who face rivals having permanent tariff increases (steel, aluminum) will not raise their price--they will. But, firms who see Chinese rivals raise their price in response to temporary tariffs will be constrained if there is a customer relationship. Would be an interesting subject of research.

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If you want to do some empirical work on this, you might want to look at the states which have price gouging statutes which kick in after an emergency. What you will find is that Florida and other storm prone states have such statutes, whereas non-weather event states in the western plains do not.

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In a well functioning market, a variety of sellers interact with a variety of buyers. All contracts are freely entered into, and by definition no contract or sale is completed unless it is to the benefit of both parties. Cheating is public knowledge and is penalized in the future by market participants. So in a well functioning market, markets reinforce morality.

Adam Smith and others argued that it was in the absence of a well functioning market that immorality flourishes. A monopolist need not behave in a moral way, whether that is a private individual or a government. The failures that one encounters when looking for market failures are usually some failure to create a well functioning market, as when one buyers know much less than sellers (finance quite often), when buyers lack the time or expertise to compare sellers (healthcare), or when government grants monopolies or defeats the price mechanism through regulation. I would argue that with personal healthcare it is difficult to imagine a truly well-functioning market, but that in most other areas of the economy governments should be trying harder to foster well-functioning markets rather than trying to interfere with them by setting prices or limiting participants through laws and regulations.

Tom, You might want to read some materials by Harvard Prof of Law and Econ Oren-Bar Gill on market failure in consumer contracting: https://hls.harvard.edu/faculty/directory/10042/Bar-Gill/publications This is a big area not only in law but in Industrial Organization Econ.

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Suggest you read "From Plato to NATO" by Gress.

According to Max Weber, Protestantism is a springboard to capitalism.

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Ideological blah-blah-blah....That's the purpose of academy: keep status quo.

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