Educational Materials

The FTC, and the Bureau of Economics, writes papers and produces reports that may be useful teaching materials for economics classes, principally in microeconomic theory and industrial organization.

Market Supply, Demand and Pricing

Why Shouldn't We Ban 'Price Gouging'
 “Price gouging” is a term that is often used but difficult to define.  Some states have passed laws against price gouging and there has been discussion of passing federal legislation banning price gouging in gasoline.  Price gouging laws essentially mandate price caps.  This paper discusses the role of prices in a market economy and the effects of price caps on resource allocation.

Gasoline Price Changes: The Dynamic of Supply, Demand, and Competition
This Report provides an analysis of rising gasoline prices and of price spikes.  It discusses the market factors that are the primary drivers of both price increases and price spikes.  Using a case example of retail gasoline prices in Phoenix, Arizona that occurred in 2003, the report discusses how prices are determined as well as how consumer and producer response to price changes affect how high prices rise and how low they fall.  The Report also documents how changes in crude oil prices, an input, affect prices of gasoline, a final good. 

Merger Analysis

Merger Analysis at the Federal Trade Commission: Two Recent Retail Cases
The FTC and the Antitrust Division of the DOJ are responsible for enforcing Section 7 of the Clayton Act that prohibits mergers that may substantially lessen competition.  Reduced competition may occur through coordinated effects or unilateral effects.  This paper discusses these theories in the context of two recent retail merger cases: the 1997 proposed merger of Staples and Office Depot, which the FTC successfully challenged in district court, and the 2005 proposed acquisition of May Department Stores by Federated Department Stores, which the FTC did not challenge.

Economic Analyses of Mergers at the FTC: The Cruise Ships Merger Investigation
This paper provides an overview of how economists at the FTC assess the potential competitive effects of mergers and provides, as a specific example, some of the economic analyses we conducted in conjunction with the FTC’s cruise ship merger investigation.  The paper was originally published in the Review of Industrial Organization. The original publication is available at

Consumer Protection

Economics of consumer protection focuses on the economics of information.  Below are several papers and reports by FTC economists that focus on the economics of information and may be of interest as teaching tools.

Children’s Exposure to TV Advertising in 1977 and 2004: Information for the Obesity Debate
Obesity has become a major health concern in the U.S., with the rise in children’s obesity being of particular concern.  Food marketing is among the postulated contributors to the rise in obesity rates, and food marketing to children has come under particular scrutiny.  This report presents a comprehensive analysis of the exposure of children to television advertising and compares exposure in 2004 with that in the late 1970s.

Improving Consumer Mortgage Disclosure: An Empirical Assessment of Current and Prototype Disclosure Forms
Despite a long history of mortgage cost disclosure requirements and many legislative and regulatory proposals, little empirical evidence exists to document the effect of the current disclosures on consumer understanding of mortgage costs, consumer mortgage shopping, or consumer mortgage choice.  In this study, we use qualitative and quantitative data to examine how consumers search for mortgages, how well consumers understand current mortgage cost disclosures and their terms of their own recently obtained loans, and whether better disclosures could improve consumer understanding of mortgage costs, consumer shopping for mortgage loans, and consumers’ ability to avoid deceptive lending practices.

Last Modified: Thursday, February 23, 2012