2 Why Governments Control Prices The market price moves to the level at which the quantity supplied equals the quantity demanded. BUT this equilibrium price does not necessarily please either buyers or sellers.Therefore, the government intervenes to regulate prices by imposing price controls, which are legal restrictions on how high or low a market price may go.Price ceiling is the maximum price sellers are allowed to charge for a good or service.Price floor is the minimum price buyers are required to pay for a good or service.
3 Price CeilingsPrice ceilings are typically imposed during crises—wars, harvest failures, natural disasters—because these events often lead to sudden price increases that hurt many people but produce big gains for a lucky few.Examples:U.S. Government imposed ceilings on aluminum and steel during World War IIRent control in New York
4 The Market for Apartments in the Absence of Government Controls Monthly rent (per apartment)Quantity of apartmentsS(millions)$1,400Monthly rent (per apartment)Quantity demandedQuantity supplied1,3001,200$1,4001.62.41,3001.72.31,100E1,2001.82.21,0001,1001.92.19001,0002.02.08009002.11.98002.21.8Figure Caption:Figure 5-1: The Market for Apartments in the Absence of Government ControlsWithout government intervention, the market for apartments reaches equilibrium at point E with a market rent of $1,000 per month and 2 million apartments rented.7007002.31.7600D6002.41.61.61.71.81.92.02.188.8.131.52Quantity of apartments (millions)
5 The Effects of a Price Ceiling Monthly rent (per apartment)S$1,4001,200E1,000Price ceilingAB800Figure Caption:Figure 5-2: The Effects of a Price CeilingThe black horizontal line represents the government-imposed price ceiling on rents of $800 per month. This price ceiling reduces the quantity of apartments supplied to 1.8 million, point A, and increases the quantity demanded to 2.2 million, point B. This creates a persistent shortage of 400,000 units: 400,000 people who want apartments at the legal rent of $800 but cannot get themHousing shortage of 400,000 apartments caused by price ceiling600D1.61.82.02.22.4Quantity of apartments (millions)
6 How Price Ceilings Cause Inefficiency Inefficiently Low QuantityDeadweight loss is the loss in total surplus that occurs whenever an action or a policy reduces the quantity transacted below the efficient market equilibrium quantityInefficient Allocation to CustomersWasted ResourcesInefficiently Low QualityBlack Markets
7 How Price Ceilings Cause Inefficiency Price ceilings often lead to inefficiency in the form of inefficient allocation to consumers: people who want the good badly and are willing to pay a high price don’t get it, and those who care relatively little about the good and are only willing to pay a low price do get it.Price ceilings typically lead to inefficiency in the form of wasted resources: people expend money, effort and time to cope with the shortages caused by the price ceiling.Price ceilings often lead to inefficiency in that the goods being offered are of inefficiently low quality: sellers offer low-quality goods at a low price even though buyers would prefer a higher quality at a higher price.
8 How Price Ceilings Cause Inefficiency A black market is a market in which goods or services are bought and sold illegally—either because it is illegal to sell them at all or because the prices charged are legally prohibited by a price ceiling.
9 Price FloorsSometimes governments intervene to push market prices up instead of down.The minimum wage is a legal floor on the wage rate, which is the market price of labor.Just like price ceilings, price floors are intended to help some people but generate predictable and undesirable side effects.
10 The Market for Butter in the Absence of Government Controls Quantity of butter(millions of pounds)Price of butter(per pound)Price of butterQuantity demandedQuantity supplied(per pound)$1.408.014.0S$1.40$1.308.513.0$1.209.012.01.30$1.109.511.01.20$1.0010.010.0$0.9010.59.01.10E$0.8011.08.01.00$0.7011.57.0$0.6012.06.00.90Figure Caption:Figure 5-5: The Market for Butter in the Absence of Government ControlsWithout government intervention, the market for butter reaches equilibrium at a price of $1 per pound with 10 million pounds of butter bought and sold.0.800.700.60D67891011121314Quantity of butter (millions of pounds)
11 The Effects of a Price Floor Price of butter (per pound)S$1.40Butter surplus of 3 million pounds caused by price floor1.20ABPrice floorE1.000.80Figure Caption:Figure 5-6: The Effects of a Price FloorThe dark horizontal line represents the government-imposed price floor of $1.20 per pound of butter. The quantity of butter demanded falls to 9 million pounds, and the quantity supplied rises to 12 million pounds, generating a persistent surplus of 3 million pounds of butter.0.60D689101214Quantity of butter (millions of pounds)
12 How a Price Floor Causes Inefficiency The persistent surplus that results from a price floor creates missed opportunities—inefficiencies—that resemble those created by the shortage that results from a price ceiling. These include:Deadweight loss from inefficiently low quantityInefficient allocation of sales among sellersWasted resourcesInefficiently high qualityTemptation to break the law by selling below the legal price
13 How a Price Floor Causes Inefficiency Price floors lead to inefficient allocation of sales among sellers: those who would be willing to sell the good at the lowest price are not always those who actually manage to sell it.Price floors often lead to inefficiency in that goods of inefficiently high quality are offered: sellers offer high-quality goods at a high price, even though buyers would prefer a lower quality at a lower price.13
14 Controlling Quantities A quantity control, or quota, is an upper limit on the quantity of some good that can be bought or sold. The total amount of the good that can be legally transacted is the quota limit. An example is the taxi medallion system in New York.A license gives its owner the right to supply a good.The demand price of a given quantity is the price at which consumers will demand that quantity.The supply price of a given quantity is the price at which producers will supply that quantity.
15 The Market for Taxi Rides in the Absence of Government Controls Quantity of ridesFare(per ride)(millions per year)FareQuantity demandedQuantity supplied(per ride)S$7.00$7.00614$6.507136.50$6.008126.00$5.509115.50E$5.0010105.00$4.501194.50$4.001284.00$3.501373.50$3.00146Figure Caption:Figure 5-8: The Market for Taxi Rides in the Absence of Government ControlsWithout government intervention, the market reaches equilibrium with 10 million rides taken per year at a fare of $5 per ride.3.00D67891011121314Quantity of rides (millions per year)
16 Effect of a Quota on the Market for Taxi Rides Fare(per ride)Quantity of rides(millions per year)FareQuantity demandedQuantity supplied(per ride)S$7.00Deadweight loss$7.006146.50A$6.507136.00$6.00812The “wedge”5.50E$5.509115.00$5.0010104.50$4.501194.00$4.00128B3.50$3.501373.00D$3.00146Figure Caption:Figure 5-9: Effect of a Quota on the Market for Taxi RidesThe table shows the demand price and the supply price corresponding to each quantity: the price at which that quantity would be demanded and supplied, respectively. The city government imposes a quota of 8 million rides by selling licenses for only 8 million rides, represented by the black vertical line. The price paid by consumers rises to $6 per ride, the demand price of 8 million rides, shown by point A. The supply price of 8 million rides is only $4 per ride, shown by point B. The difference between these two prices is the quota rent per ride, the earnings that accrue to the owner of a license. The quota rent drives a wedge between the demand price and the supply price. And since the quota discourages mutually beneficial transactions, it creates a deadweight loss equal to the shaded triangle.Quota67891011121314Quantity of rides (millions per year)