Futility of Price Controls


Armstrong Economics Blog/Economics Re-Posted Dec 7, 2022 by Martin Armstrong

COMMENT FROM HUNGARY: Dear Marty,
You were correct again. Price controls do not work in the long run. The Hungarian government introduced a price cap on gasoline and diesel a few months ago, but a few hours ago this evening they had to let it go(they “tried everything in their power to help but the damn bureaucrats in Brussels who voted for the sanctions”.etc etc.).

The holiday season, panic buying, no gas another nail into the trust in our government’s coffin.
Marty these people really have no clue what the hell they’re doing. We have several food products that also have price controls: Wheat, sugar, eggs, etc. And interestingly supermarkets simply stop selling them or they sell brown sugar (no price control) instead of white sugar (price controlled, the maximum amount you can purchase in one go is 3kg i believe). When will they learn (not admit) or at least stop blaming others for their own brain-dead decisions?

I honestly hope that whatever the hell comes after 2032 will be better than this nonsense.
Thanks for all you do Marty. Keep up the fight, and get some well-needed rest during the holidays. I reckon you’re getting more phone calls than usual…
All the best,
RH

ANSWER: You know the most astonishing fact is that this was not even my personal opinion. All one need do is consult history. NEVER has any attempt to freeze prices to prevent inflation EVER worked even once.

The Roman emperor Diocletian (284-305AD) tried to impose wage and price controls in an effort to prevent inflation that was soaring because of a collapse in confidence in the Roman government. The Edit on Maximum Prices was imposed during 201AD. It was an utter failure.

Even if we go back to the 4th century B.C., the Roman government bought corn (grain) and, in times of shortage, it re-sold it at a low fixed price to try to prevent inflation from shortages – as we have today. In 58BC, the Roman Senate went even further and granted every citizen free wheat. The politicians were trying to bribe the people as they are doing once again today. What happened was that the farmers began moving back to the city of Rome because they could live and eat without working – it was free. By the time Julius Caesar (100-44BC) crossed the Rubicon, one in three Romans was receiving government wheat. He was forced to create a census and found there were more people claiming welfare than there were possible people.

Those in government ALWAYS assume that since they possess a pen, they can write whatever law they desire and they will comply or be thrown in prison until they die. I was named FOREX Person of the Year in 2015 because we forecast the Euro/Swiss peg would break. I even met with the Swiss Central Bank and warned that the peg would break. I was told they would be able to hold it. I replied I think the odds are on my side since NOBODY in history has ever been able to do this. There was the British pound peh into the ERM the broking making Soros all his money. In 1997, there was the Asian Currency Crisis where all the pegs broke. then there was even Bretton Woods which was a fixed exchange rate that broke in 1971 and in 1973 I was called in for the first bank failure due to foreign exchange.

I have done my best trying to warn governments that they CANNOT fix currencies and even when they were forming the G5 with the Plaza Accord in 1985, I was called in and warned that lowering the dollar by 40% would lead to a major currency crisis and a crash by 1987. Never have they ever listened.

Perhaps, the ONLY time anyone in Europe or the United States than anyone in government ever listen was perhaps in 1997. They were starting the jawboning of the Yen for trade purposes once again. I wrote to Robert Rubin and he has Timothy Geithner respond who later became the Secretary of the Treasury. China has listened, but other than in 1997, I cannot say any central bank or government has EVER heeded my warnings that history is on my side – pegs NEVER work.

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