When gasoline was scarce in 1979, American truckers rioted in Pennsylvania
Matt Reimann

What’s missing from this article, of course, is the role that the US Gov’t played in perpetuating the shortage.

What caused the shortage? PRICE CONTROLS. We know this because when oil hit the astronomical price of $145/bbl in 2008, there were no lines at gas stations. People were able to buy all the fuel they wanted (albeit at anger-inducing high prices). But the point is this — there was no shortage, just a high price.

Why? A high price indicates that demand is outstripping supply. And it’s a huge incentive to a supplier to meet that demand. Adjusted for inflation, the 1979 peak oil price was only $84/barrel. So how did we have a shortage of gasoline at a price barely 2/3rds of the 2008 price when there was no shortage?

ANSWER: Government policy. The shortage in the US should have driven up prices here. And then it would have been a huge incentive for a non-OPEC producer to supply the US and buy from OPEC via arbitrage. Why didn’t that happen? US GOV’T POLICY.

The Nixon-era price controls that Carter continued until April of 1979 were largely to blame, stifling American production and causing a needless shortage.

Like almost every major economic problem the USA has faced since WW2, the problem was caused by bad government policy.

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