The Second Best Theory of Tortilla Prices
I don’t think that Tim Haab at Environmental Economics subscribes to the Econ-Atrocities, but by happy coincidence he’s written a blog post that would fit perfectly in the series. His topic is the Mexican government’s response to serious inflation in the cost of tortillas, which are a primary staple of the Mexican diet, and poor Mexicans (of which there are plenty) are getting hit by these price hikes like a punch to the gut. Should the Mexican government pursue a policy of price caps for tortialls? The “Theory of the Second Best” offers an interesting angle of analysis. I’ll let Tim explain it himself, but as a teaser here’s a bit of his conclusion:
If the price cap is a response to another inefficient policy, then the price cap may actually improve efficiency. The first best solution would be to remove the policies creating the inefficiently high corn prices. The second best solution might be to create a new policy to counteract the effects of bad policy. That’s the Theory of Second Best.
This all makes best sense as part of his full post, so go read it (it’s not long, so it won’t hurt).