Friday, April 29, 2011

You Would Have Thought That The Soviet Era Should Have Learned The Russian Government Something

Russia, the world's biggest oil producer and the second biggest oil exporter (after Saudi Arabia), is facing increasing gasoline shortages. But how could the world's biggest oil producer have a shortage of gasoline? Because the Russian government in an effort to satisfy voters who don't want to pay higher gasoline prices has created price controls that makes it much more profitable to export oil and gasoline than to sell it in Russia.

This is very similar to the widespread shortages of food and other consumer goods caused by artificially low prices during the time when Russia was part of the Soviet Union. Apparently, the Putin regime hasn't learned the correct lessons from this era.

If they wanted to help gasoline buyers, it would have by the way been much smarter to instead use some of the increasing revenue from oil exports to cut or abolish the excise tax on gasoline. If they had done that, there wouldn't have been any shortages even as prices remained low.