Assessing Price-Fixing and Price-Gouging Claims during the Pandemic
Concerns about anticompetitive market manipulation, such as price fixing and price gouging, during periods of economic downturn are common. Firms facing extreme shifts in demand or higher costs may face greater incentives to collude with competitors to raise, maintain, or stabilize prices, particularly in times of financial distress.
Attorneys general (AGs) from twelve states have asked the US Department of Justice to investigate the state of competition in the meatpacking industry. While concerns about this industry existed before the pandemic, the AGs note the “greater toll” such market manipulation and coordinated behavior could have on American consumers during the COVID-19 crisis.