Rationing and Hoarding


In economicshoarding is the practice of obtaining and holding scarce resources, possibly so that they can be sold to customers for profit.


Under capitalist theory, if this is done so that the resource can be transferred to the customer or improved upon, then it is a standard business practice (e.g. buying up a bunch of wood to turn into a house); however, if the sole intent is to hold an otherwise unavailable resource it is considered hoarding.


Hoarding behavior may be a common response to fear, whether fear of imminent society-wide danger or simple fear of a shortage of some good. Civil unrest or natural disaster may lead people to collect foodstuffs, water, gasoline, and other essentials which they believe, rightly or wrongly, will soon be in short supply.

Economically speaking, hoarding occurs due to individuals obtaining and holding assets thought to be undervalued and build up reserves of it in hopes to profit or save money later. Examples include times when price controls were in effect as in the case of Germany after World War II, communist countries, or after natural disasters when goods are in such short supply that consumers stockpile (this is sometimes compounded by anti-price gouging laws which prevent the supply and demand curves from functioning). In these cases the hoarding disappears after the price controls are removed.


A feature of hoarding is that it leads to an inefficient distribution of scarce resources, making the scarcity even more of a problem. An example occurs in cities where parking is inadequate. In such a case, businesses may post signs indicating that their lot is for their employees and customers only, and all other vehicles will be towed. This prevents businesses from allowing their parking to overflow into neighboring lots when their capacity is exceeded. Thus, when the capacity is reached at one business, there may be no legal place to park, while there would have been, if hoarding had not occurred. If a single business posted those signs, it would, indeed, improve the parking situation at that business, as they could continue to park at adjacent businesses, while the others could not park in their lot.

Definition of ‘Rationing’

Rationing refers to an artificial control on the distribution of scarce resources, food items, industrial production, etc.

Definition: Rationing refers to an artificial control on the distribution of scarce resources, food items, industrial production, etc. In banking, credit rationing is a situation when banks limit the supply of loans to consumers. In economics, rationing refers to an artificial control of the supply and demand of commodities.

Description: Rationing is done to ensure the proper distribution of resources without any unwanted waste. Banks use credit rationing to control lending beyond the monetary base of the bank. Controlling the prices and demand and supply leads to availability of goods and services for every section of the society.

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