Assistant professor of economics suggests considering price controls as a way to deal with inflation

News & Politics

Isabella Weber, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has written an opinion piece suggesting that price controls should be considered as a possible tactic to deal with inflation.

Americans have been hit hard by the economic consequences of rapidly rising costs, with the consumer price index recently registering the biggest 12-month increase in nearly four decades.

“The all items index rose 6.8 percent for the 12 months ending November, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending June 1982,” according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Weber has a Ph.D. in economics, according to her biography on the University of Massachusetts Amherst website.

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“Today, there is once more a choice between tolerating the ongoing explosion of profits that drives up prices or tailored controls on carefully selected prices. Price controls would buy time to deal with bottlenecks that will continue as long as the pandemic prevails. Strategic price controls could also contribute to the monetary stability needed to mobilize public investments towards economic resilience, climate change mitigation and carbon-neutrality. The cost of waiting for inflation to go away is high,” Weber wrote in her piece.

“We need a systematic consideration of strategic price controls as a tool in the broader policy response to the enormous macroeconomic challenges instead of pretending there is no alternative beyond wait-and-see or austerity,” she said.

The piece currently bears the title, “We have a powerful weapon to fight inflation: price controls. It’s time we consider it.” But according to archives of the web page, the title previously said “We have a powerful weapon to fight inflation: price controls. It’s time we use it.”

Responding to a tweet from the Guardian that included the earlier version of the title, many people pushed back against the idea of using price controls to to tackle inflation.

“I am not a free-market zealot. But this is truly stupid,” Paul Krugman tweeted.

“I left Venezuela so I didn’t have to deal with these people,” Daniel Di Martino tweeted.

“Price controls don’t fight #inflation, they just cover up the symptoms. Putting a bandaid on a skin cancer won’t cure it. Price controls allow inflation to get worse. They result in shortages and black markets. So either consumers go without, or end up paying even higher prices!” Peter Schiff tweeted.

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