Like storing gasoline to create an artificial demand and sell it a higher price later.


'Hoarding' is the word that comes to my mind. That at least covers the storage of scarce resources, but I'm not sure if it is really the right word to include selling it at a higher price.

How about 'Price-fixing'? That would be a collection of 'competitors', artificailly increasing the price by some means (possibly by limiting supply).

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    +1 for "hoarding" but not for "price-fixing". Price-fixing is a criminal activity, while hoarding can actually serve a useful purpose by keeping people from wasting a resource which will become scarce in the near future. – mmyers Sep 17 '10 at 18:45
  • @mmyers Yeah, I agree, neither of these words perfectly fit the description in the question. Wouldn't the activity described in the question, if it was done by a group of 'competitors' in the marketplace be considered 'price-fixing', and be illegal? Anti-trust law is certainly not my area of expertise, but that is congruent with my understanding. – pkaeding Sep 17 '10 at 19:43
  • If it's done by competitors in collaboration with each other, then yes. If they're not intentionally collaborating, then one of them is likely to break ranks and start selling early; then if the forecast scarcity is not realized, the ones who held out have lost their opportunity. – mmyers Sep 17 '10 at 20:07
  • (By the way, there's only one e in my username. I've already taken the liberty of correcting it in several comments by various people.) – mmyers Sep 17 '10 at 20:08
  • @mmyers Sorry about the typo in your name. Yes, the intent and the 'teamwork' is important in order for it to be considered 'price-fixing'. I think the intent was implied by the question, though I introduced the idea of multiple 'competitors' acting together. (Also, I keep putting 'competitor' in quotes, because they would not be acting competitively in this case.) – pkaeding Sep 17 '10 at 20:51

Profiteering can be used here.

From Cambridge Dictionary:

profiteer (noun): a person who takes advantage of a situation in which other people are suffering to make a profit, often by selling at a high price goods which are difficult to get.

profiteering (noun):
The pharmaceutical company has been charged with profiteering from the AIDS crisis.

From Oxford Dictionaries:

profiteer (verb): make or seek to make an excessive or unfair profit, especially illegally: seven food merchants were charged with profiteering.

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    Profiteering is slightly different from the scenario described in the question, as 'profiteering' implies taking advantage of a situation, rather than creating the situation in the first place. I'm not sure if there is a word that perfectly fits the scenario described in the question. – pkaeding Sep 17 '10 at 20:52
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    @pkaeding: hoarding for the purpose of profiteering is not uncommon, these activities often go hand-in-hand. But you're right that they are not equivalent. – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Sep 20 '10 at 16:25
  • @Mr. Shiny Yeah, you're right. The combination of hoarding, and then profiteering, would be what is described in the question. – pkaeding Sep 20 '10 at 17:27

This is the very definition of "cornering the market."

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    No, "cornering the market" merely means having complete control of it, not necessarily by hoarding a commodity. You could merely have a monopoly or be first to market. You would not be far wrong to say that PayPal has practically cornered the market for on-line payments., or eBay for on-line Auctions. No hoarding involved. Wikipedia is NOT always correct. – mickeyf Sep 18 '10 at 1:38
  • @mickeyf: How about Merriam-Webster? "[n.] control or ownership of enough of the available supply of a commodity or security especially to permit manipulation of the price " followed by "[v.] to get a corner on <corner the market>" What's your source? – moioci Sep 18 '10 at 3:42

Cornering the Market is the best term if you're actually buying so much of the item that prices go up. It rarely happens.

Stockpiling implies that you're stocking up on something, without necessarily implying that you plan to profit from that.

Profiteering is simply a value-laden term for increasing prices when demand goes up.

Hoarding implies keeping a disproportionate share of something for oneselve, not necessarily for profit.


As I stated in a comment earlier to moioci, "cornering the market" merely means having complete control of it, not necessarily by hoarding a commodity.

A few examples, quickly found:

And even:


My "source" is obvious: widespread, common usage. The definition given in Wikipedia is a narrow one applying to a specific domain. The term has much much broader use. Please, people! Wikipedia is not the holy scriptures! At least look a little bit further!

The proper answer would be a combination of all the terms Joel mentioned:

"Hoarding and Stockpiling with an intention to Profiteer and Corner the Market". I know of no single word in English for this, but "Cornering the market" is not it. Perhaps you could assemble one in German?

  • Why, sure: Vorratsanlegungsmarktmanipulationsversuch. Or Preisniveauerhöhungswarenaufkauf. The possibilities are endless! On a more serious note, even Germans would split those beasts into two parts and throw in a preposition for good measure. – RegDwigнt Sep 20 '10 at 5:25
  • In reading this question, I recalled Howard Pyle's version of the Robin Hood stories, in which Robin encounters (and robs, naturally) a "Corn engrosser" - "Warehouser of grain", I'd translate it - who was loathed by the peasantry for this very practice. – mickeyf Sep 20 '10 at 14:27

Arbitrage is a related term for taking advantage of difference in prices, and may include storing something for later sale. For instance, if the arbitrageur can secure storage for less than the difference in price between buying today and a contract for sale in the future. This might occur when the market is expecting the price of the commodity to increase dramatically, and therefore prices for future contracts are still high.

However, it does not relate to trying to increase demand by lowering supply.

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