The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has spurred shortages and price increases for necessities such as medical equipment, cleaning supplies, and paper products. Complaints by both individual consumers and state governors of "price gouging" have proliferated. State attorneys general and local law enforcement agencies, often armed with special legal powers to penalize price gouging, are acting—issuing cease and desist letters, commencing investigations, or even effecting arrests—in response to these complaints.

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