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H.R. 5990, An Act to further the national defense and security by checking . . . inflationary tendencies (Emergency Price Control Act), January 27, 1942

To limit wartime inflation, Congress passed the Emergency Price Control Act in 1942, authorizing the Office of Price Administration (OPA) to regulate prices and control market, production, and renting practices. The OPA issued pricing regulations on consumer and household items including cars, tires, sugar, gasoline, coffee, shoes, meat, and bicycles. To stabilize the post-war economy, some price controls continued through 1947.

Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration

H.R. 5990 H.R. 5990

Controlling Wartime Prices

During both world wars, domestic prices rose rapidly as the government diverted goods to the war effort and federal spending soared. Early in World War II Congress passed legislation authorizing the government to regulate and set prices that were “fair and equitable.” By rationing many consumer goods and employing price controls, Congress helped stabilize the economy by keeping rampant inflation at bay and the cost of living reasonable.

It will prevent excessively high prices, gross profiteering . . . and by stopping the upward curve of prices [it] will be a potent factor in preventing after-war collapse.

Senator Prentiss M. Brown of Michigan, The New York Times, January 28, 1942