The New York TimesThe New York Times

Europe's gonna party like it's 1979

By Paul Krugman

30 Aug 2022 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

In the New York Times, economist Paul Krugman compares the current energy crisis to the gasoline shortages of 1979. The lesson? Governments seeking to control rising costs will face big dilemmas.

You probably have to be a senior citizen to remember the gasoline shortages of 1979. I am, and I do. I also remember how demoralizing they were. Then as now, outside a few big cities, America was a highly car-dependent nation, and waiting in long lines, not knowing whether you would be able to fill up, was deeply disconcerting.

What caused those shortages? The precipitating event was the Iranian Revolution, which sent world oil prices soaring. But an oil price surge in itself needn’t mean gasoline shortages; it could — as we’ve seen recently — just mean higher prices at the pump.

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