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The Return of Price Controls

There’s an entertaining article on Slate today about the return of price controls in Russia and elsewhere. Surely everyone else already read our interview on this subject with economist Craig Pirrong? Slate:

Exhibit B: Russia. When you have the visible hand of a former KGB-nik running the government, who needs Adam Smith’s invisible hand? As the New York Times noted last week, food prices have been on a tear in Russia. With elections approaching, Vladimir Putin decided pricey potatoes and pierogies just wouldn’t do. The solution: Soviet-style price controls. As the Financial Times reported last week: “The country’s biggest food retailers and producers have reached an agreement, expected to be signed with the Russian government on Wednesday, to freeze prices at October 15 levels on selected types of bread, cheese, milk, eggs and vegetable oil until the end of the year.” According to the New York Times, a “statement on the Web site of the Agriculture Ministry said the producers had signed the agreement ‘at their own initiative.’ ” (Where’s Yakov Smirnoff when you need him? In Branson, Mo.—Ed.)

Daniel Gross doesn’t appear to know much about Russia. It’s all about vareniki, not pierogi, and that Yakoff Smirnoff call is a real reach. But that’s Slate for you.