Recent price increases in the US?

Let them eat cake!

That’s what frustrates me in trying to even discuss this topic here. Essential items are different from things like handbags or streaming services(called out in that podcast summary). Commodities are priced differently than consumer electronics, etc etc. Some cases are obvious price gouging, but the more complexes are going to be more involved and I’d love to know more about the dynamics at play and what actors can actually inflate prices at will in those schemes. I just don’t understand the constant return to blanket statements on the topic but maybe you all are in P&R for different reasons than I am.

They’ve been milking the system almost the moment they’re out of the womb and I think it’s time they pull their own weight. Want your formula? Well, infants have plasma and I don’t see them lining up to donate. Instead, they’re just sitting at home wailing about their formula or because they bumped into a fucking coffee table or something. We’re raising a generation of entitled babies and it needs to stop.

The ‘return to blanket statements’ is e.g. me expressing this exact same frustration. I’m no expert, but I think there is room in public policy for some regulation of pricing, and that the result would generally be to the public good. But if you try to have that discussion, what you’re going to get is references to failed Marxist scarcity regimes or reverential statements about the benevolent functioning of markets. If you point to anything that looks like excessive management greed, you’ll be told that management is making perfectly rational and appropriate decisions, decisions you aren’t competent to judge, and that the alternative is totalitarian boots stamping on your face, forever.

There are inelastic markets like those where normal market pricing can break down.

But most of the stuff folks are talking about here are not inelastic markets. Like in the example given in the synopsis , handbags aren’t an inelastic market where you need to buy them.

In the case of insulin, I believe there is evidence that in addition to the inelasticity of the market, you have also had illegal price fixing.

As a general rule, I think the kind of people who rise to become titans of industry are, well, greedy people, and that they will make decisions at least somewhat motivated by that greed — indeed, that is what makes the system work! — and that the function of regulation is to act as a brake on the worst excesses caused by that greed.

nicely done

This is exactly my outlook and you’re right that blanket statements are very common from ardent unrestricted capitalism supporters. The greed is what makes capitalism so powerful, but left to its own devices that power will be used to make the greedy get the vast majority of the economic benefit. They are the cream of the crop when it comes to greed after all! In a competitive market the consumers should absolutely be a powerful force acting to help control how far that can go. But lots of markets aren’t competitive for various reasons and absolutely need strong regulation to, as you say, act as a brake on the excesses and protect societal good. There are other cases where maybe market forces would fix the problem but for other reasons that’s not good enough. For essential goods those forces may take too long to bring prices down or in other cases where safety is a factor. Sure, increasing profit margin also creates space in that margin for price competition to spawn, but if it’s not already a competitive industry then you’re waiting likely years for new players to show up and provide that competition and downward price pressure. Or in safety, if it takes 100 dead people before consumers quit buying a product, maybe it’s really worth it to society to have government help keep those 100 people alive by enforcing safety standards.

I did think this was an interesting(if not super friendly on the eyes) rundown of US governments attempts to affect prices in the dairy industry. Importantly, these are attempts to generally keep dairy prices up enough to keep dairy farmers in business. But it also discusses the unintended consequences of doing so.

That’s an interesting article, thanks! And it highlights that there are lots of markets that aren’t really free, beyond obvious things like health care.