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Intertemporal Resource Allocation: Distributive Issues Surrounding Gasoline Price Hikes


  • Butz, David A


This paper shows that many people misinterpreted the gasoline price increases that followed Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. Consumers expressed outrage when prices increased immediately even though a production shortfall did not materialize for several weeks. But by withholding output in the invasion's aftermath, arbitragers (including oil companies) reallocated output intertemporally to make more available when it was needed most. The welfare consequences, in general, depend upon demand elasticities and their rate of change, but in this instance consumer surplus would probably have been maximized with a full and immediate price adjustment and oil companies profited from their restraint. Copyright 1991 by Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Butz, David A, 1991. "Intertemporal Resource Allocation: Distributive Issues Surrounding Gasoline Price Hikes," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(3), pages 591-600, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ecinqu:v:29:y:1991:i:3:p:591-600

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