I’ve been wondering for two weeks now why Sandy hasn’t driven up the price of gas. I like low gas prices. I expect them to fall lower at some point, though I may be wrong and I have no idea how to time these things. But recently I’ve found those prices disturbing because I suspected they meant pain for others.
The impending storm, the storm itself, and now the news of long lines of people—it all should have driven up the price of gas. In the St. Louis area, the price actually went down slightly as the storm was approaching. The price did not rise until after the storm was over. Now it is only fifteen cents higher. That is still very low compared the recent past.
But I see pictures of people with all the containers they can carry, in long lines to the gas pump.
Today I found the answer thanks to NPR’s Morning Edition featuring Planet Money’s Zoe Chace. She didn’t advocate for the explanation, of course, but she acknowledged what “some economists” think. The reason Sandy has barely moved the dial on gas prices is because states have anti-gouging laws. What could be more obvious? Suddenly there is a vast shortage of a product and the price of the product doesn’t change. Carter did that, and the whole nation had gas lines.