Memo to economists defending price gouging in a disaster: It’s still wrong, morally and economically Hiltzik, Michael. Los Angeles Times (Online), Los Angeles: Tribune Interactive, LLC. Aug 28, 2017. Abstract Translate [unavailable for this document] When the market breaks down utterly, as in Houston, where huge swaths of the region will have little or no access for days at least to fresh water, auto fuel and electricity, almost nothing the free market can do will get supplies of these commodities to places that can’t be physically reached. Another factor commonly overlooked by defenders of price gouging is that natural disasters tend to be (1) short-term and (2) not amenable to rapid response by market forces. […]when the task involves opening access to a market isolated from the outside world by natural disaster, the free market is powerless to help; its only ability is to direct scarce, life-giving resources exclusively to those who can pay.