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Regulator Dean

Via Asymmetrical Information comes this story about Howard Dean advocating regulation of many industries:

As governor of Vermont, Dean advocated deregulation, angering some environmentalists. But the events of the past two years have convinced him deregulation is to blame for many of the nation's problems.

"California is proving it does not work," he said. "I think the reason the grid failed is because of utility deregulation."

Then he hasn't been paying attention. (All of those articles are long, but excellent. They're worth your time to read them all thoroughly.)

UPDATE 2003-11-23 02:52:55 UTC: Reisman made these points, but it's important to emphasize:

Lawsuits and even convictions concerning alleged restriction of supply in the California energy crisis do nothing to alter the economic facts involved.

In a shortage there are insufficient units on the market to meet the demand at the given price. A person capable of supplying extra units would be able to sell them without causing the price to fall until they had sold enough units to end the shortage. Only at that point would prices begin to fall.

Given the extreme profitability of extra units of electricity at the height of the crisis, it would have been incredibly stupid for electric producers to withhold units during an actual shortage. Therefore, they did not, whatever the courts concluded notwithstanding.

(It also should go without saying that expensive contracts signed near the end of the crisis had no bearing whatsoever on its cause, unless you believe in time travel.)

The two primary reasons for the energy crisis were (1) retail electricity rates were not allowed to rise, by government fiat and (2) environmentalists prevented construction of sufficient power plants, again through government fiat.

Tiny Island