Friday, August 26, 2005

Price Controls on Gas Prices

China began to move to a free economy about 25 years ago and has had made great economic progress since then. However, China still controls the price of gasoline and a few other basic consumer commodities. In today's environment of high oil prices, China's control over gas prices at the pump has caused shortages and long lines at gas stations. Some refineries in China export gasoline in order to get a higher price for their product.

Indonesia, which produces significant amounts of oil, also has price controls on gasoline. One result is that consumers have little incentive to save fuel. As in China, Indonesia is experiencing gas shortages and long lines. Also, Indonesia is beginning to import more oil than it exports. Indonesia may become ineligible to retain its membership in the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Now Hawaii, the state with the highest gas prices, has decided to control the wholesale price of gasoline. The state's 2 wholesalers will have less incentive to secure gasoline supplies for Hawaii. You do not need a crystal ball to foresee the outcome of Hawaii's experiment with wholesale price controls.

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