August 17, 2010

Human Rights Advocates Hail Breakthrough in Price Fixing

The AP reports:
In what's being hailed as an unprecedented move...a global diamond trading network vowed Monday to expel any member who knowingly trades gems from two Zimbabwe mines where laborers have been killed and children enslaved.
Blah blah blah, the story continues, until:
Mining experts also have cautioned that...(i)n any case, Zimbabwe would not be allowed to flood the world market and bring down global prices...
Of course not. Diamond prices not set by an open market. They are controlled by a cartel. Via this image-enhancing human rights gesture, the cartel is reinforcing its control and profits.

Come to think of it, inefficient government-regulated cartels staffed with union labor may be just the kind of thing that people who write for the AP like. This is not to ignore that some human side-effects of capitalism can be bad, even horrific. It is also not to ignore the fact that big businesses do not like the vulnerability to competition that an open market brings and routinely collude among themselves and with government to impede it.

So I read with mixed feelings that the Zimbabwe government intends to route around the ban.

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