Not in the literal, diagnostic sense of course - but in the high-on-analytics/low-on-social-context sense. I don't know (I'm probably too deep into economics to be impartial on calling this), but I think commenter Lord makes important points:
"They obviously don't need price to steer goods anywhere; they are more than willing to direct them to where they are wanted, they operate under monopolistic competition after all. Not nice [this is in response to my post stating that even if gouging serves a social function, it certainly can't be considered a nice thing to do] is important because it demonstrates a social cost, one that isn't represented in the market, or perhaps is and is very high which is why raising prices is an anathema to most everyone. Raising prices is an autistic solution to a problem that doesn't really exist."
Joseph Fetz counters: "Given that there are only a particular amount of goods available at any given time, what incentive do suppliers have to steer a greater amount of goods to one particular region vs that of another region? Further, what spurs greater production of the good in a world of scarce resources?"
Lord responds: "As opposed to shipping gas to stations without electricity or shipping chainsaws to Canada for next years use? What great industries are waiting for disaster to do what they never would otherwise? What industries are so profitless that being deprived of price gouging they cease to exist? Autistic is written all over this."
I certainly agree that (1.) the importance of the signal is easy to overstate, and (2.) WTP and ATP are probably not going to be binding constraints here - who shows up first is. As painful as it is to pay $10 or whatever it would get up to for gas, the number of people that would actually be priced out of that market is small. My suspicion is that what is really sorting people is not the price anyway - it's the access and the patience, and gouging wouldn't change that.
As I said in the last post - if you are actually incurring costs to get the gas in there, obviously no one should begrudge you charging a higher price.
John Law in Venice: Today's Economic History
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