Cafe Hayek suggests that controlling prices – eliminating price gouging – “camouflages the underlying reality”. I agree.
I have always wondered what constitutes “price gouging”? I think that in the case of a natural disaster, the prices do indeed rise as a result of the supply and demand situation, and that is not gouging.
On September 11, 2001, gas stations in Tennesee raised their gas prices from $1.40 a gallon to $4.00 a gallon in a matter of four hours. There was no immediate threat to their supply. That is price gouging.
I think the general concern is more one of preventing a few greedy individuals from taking maximum and unreasonable advantage of a difficult situation, rather than merely allowing market forces to act.