• Posts
  • RSS
  • ◂◂RSS
  • Contact

  • Hoarding and Shortages

    February 25th, 2020
    covid-19, preparedness  [html]
    One of the main responses to yesterday's post on preparing for a potential quarantine was something like:
    Hoarding causes shortages. Leave masks for people that need them.
    Another commenter made a similar argument with food.

    I think the biggest question here is whether you think there's time and capacity for producers to react to increased demand. For example, some mask factories are not running right now because they're in affected areas, but many others are still running. More people trying to buy masks raises the market price, which makes it worth it for these factories to run at higher output. For example, maybe a factory normally runs a 16hr day with two shifts but doesn't run at night because it's too expensive to hire people for night work. If masks are selling for 5x the normal price, the situation is different and they'll probably start running 24hr. [1]

    This is a really big reason to prepare ahead of time, instead of when a disaster seems likely. I bought masks months ago after deciding they were something I would like to have on hand for dealing with a range of issues, which meant producers had plenty of time to react and make more. I know this doesn't help with the current situation, but if there are non-perishable things where a supply disruption would be really bad (ex: masks for taking care of an immunocompromised family member) set a reminder for six months from now to stock up on them.

    I also don't think spreading the idea that one shouldn't buy masks is worth it: enough people are still going to be buying them that we're still going to have a mixture of outages at regular retailers and high prices at demand-responsive online ones. Even if you think that there's no ability for producers to react to high prices by creating more masks and so there's effectively a fixed pool of masks to divide up, refraining from buying ones for yourself helps others only minimally.

    (Separately, there's a question of what situations masks are useful for. I know much less about this, though if someone in your household gets sick it seems like it would be very useful to have them on hand.)


    [1] Raising prices in response to emergency-induced demand is often called "price gouging" and it is sometimes illegal, though in long-running emergencies like this I wouldn't expect to see the laws apply because documenting increased costs should be practical.

    Comment via: facebook, lesswrong

    Recent posts on blogs I like:

    High Costs are not About Scarcity

    I sometimes see a claim in comments here or on social media that the reason American costs are so high is that scarcity makes it hard to be efficient. This can be a statement about government practice: the US government supposedly doesn’t support transit …

    via Pedestrian Observations January 25, 2021

    Valentines

    Today I made valentines. I made fruit valentines. There were orange fruit valentines, and grape fruit valentines, watermelon fruit valentines, and pineapple too. I made them for my classmates and teacher. They had a little jokes or puns on the back. The j…

    via Lily Wise's Blog Posts January 23, 2021

    Fireside Friday, January 22, 2021

    It’s the first week of classes, so fireside this week. Next week, we’ll dive into a short series looking at the question of the ‘universal warrior,’ the idea – too often repeated – that there is either a single consistent experience or personality true to…

    via A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry January 22, 2021

    more     (via openring)


  • Posts
  • RSS
  • ◂◂RSS
  • Contact