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Spike in Inflation Reignites Debate on Price Controls

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In a recent survey of 41 academic economists conducted by the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, 61 percent said that price controls similar to those imposed in the 1970s would fail to “successfully reduce U.S. inflation over the next 12 months.” Others said the policy might bring down inflation in the short-term but would lead to shortages or other problems.“Price controls can of course control prices — but they’re a terrible idea!” David Autor, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote in response to the survey.Have price controls worked in the past?In August 1971, with consumer prices rising at their fastest pace since the Korean War, Mr. Nixon announced that he was imposing a 90-day freeze on most wages, prices and rents. Once the freeze ended, companies were allowed to raise prices, but subject to limits set by a council …

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