Oil stain theorem

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The oil stain theorem (also known as the oil stain theory ) is an economic thesis about the effect of state intervention in a market . It says that a single first state intervention in the economic process leads to ever expanding follow-up interventions in the economic system and ultimately a spiral of intervention.

Concept emergence

The idea that a single intervention in the price structure spreads across other markets was already described by Ludwig von Mises in 1929 in his criticism of interventionism ; however, the word “ oil stain ” itself is not used there.

Even Walter Eucken describes the phenomenon of widening government intervention; however, even he does not use the word itself.

With changing information about the author, the word is occasionally used in German business journalism .


Maximum prices for the rent ("rent brake")

The predicted from the oil patch theory consequences can be exemplified for price interventions in housing rents are pointed out: If, for example, as a measure of social policy , maximum prices for the rent specified (first operation), the price falls short notice for rented residential space relative to other goods. According to the oil stain theory, this reduces the incentive for potential landlords to rent out housing; the incentive to build new houses or to renovate houses that have already been rented continues to decline. In the medium term, this will reduce living space. The government's goal of creating cheap housing would be missed.

According to the oil spill theory, the state will intervene again and increase the production of living space through subsidies . In addition, the living space may now be so scarce that it has to be distributed; this would happen, for example, through rationing through the state - which promotes corruption . If apartments continue to be brokered privately, the potential tenants would illegally pay more to convince the landlord, since rents no longer function as market prices . The signal function of the price as an indicator of scarcity would be lost. Other factors such as illegal money payments, appearance, favors, friendships, religious beliefs, etc. played a stronger role.

Minimum prices for wheat

Furthermore, the state must foresee possible evasive actions to safeguard its measures. For example, if wheat producers are protected by minimum prices , i.e. if the wheat price is kept artificially high, this will have an impact on the market for rye or oats, since there the demand (for now relatively cheaper grain) will increase. On the other hand, there is an oversupply on the wheat market which cannot be reduced by market forces and therefore leads to further state intervention.

Individual evidence

  1. Ludwig von Mises : Critique of Interventionism . Gustav Fischer, Jena 1976, ISBN 3-534-07653-2 , pp. 10 sq . ( docs.mises.de [PDF; 869 kB ] First edition: 1929, reprograph. Reprinted from: Zeitschrift für Nationalökonomie. 1.1930).
  2. ^ Walter Eucken : Principles of economic policy . Francke, 1990, ISBN 3-8252-1572-5 , pp. 154 (first edition: 1952).
  3. ^ For example in Heinz Christian Hafke: End of the indexing ban? In: Börsen-Zeitung . February 11, 1995, p. 4 . Attributed to Hayek in Karl Eugen Reis: Tax reform for the capital market . In: Börsen-Zeitung . June 27, 2000, p.  28 . Erich Priewasser and Ulf-Theo Fuhrmeister: Banking regulation: quo vadis? In: Journal for the entire credit system . September 1, 2002, p. 849 . Kai Johannsen: Linkers can be expensive . In: Börsen-Zeitung . February 11, 2005, p. 8 .