quote: Price gouging is a frequently pejorative reference to a seller's asking a price that is much higher than what is seen as 'fair' under the circumstances. In precise, legal usage, it is the name of a felony that applies in some of the United States only during civil emergencies. In less precise usage, it can refer either to prices obtained by practices inconsistent with a competitive free market, or to windfall profits. In colloquial usage, it means simply that the speaker thinks the price is too high. Non-pejorative uses are generally in reaction to what the writer believes is an unjustified restraint on the market.The economic theory of the free market suggests that, even in unusual circumstances, price controls do more harm than good by preventing incentives for the supply of needed goods. For example, in a disaster situation, a very high price for equipment (e.g. tents) will prompt hugely increased supply of the relevant goods. Libertarians are among those who robustly defend the right of firms to charge what they want regardless of the circumstances. The contrary argument is that emergency situations increase inequality markedly and allowing vendors to exploit emergency situations to gain extra profits is unequitable.As a criminal offense, Florida's law is reasonably typical. Price gouging may be charged when a supplier of essential goods or services sharply raises the prices asked in anticipation of or during a civil emergency, or when it cancels or dishonors contracts in order to take advantage of an increase in prices related to such an emergency. The model case is a retailer who increases the price of existing stocks of milk and bread when a hurricane is imminent. It is a defense to show that the price increase mostly reflects increased costs, such as running an emergency generator, or hazard pay for workers.