Skip to main content

Office of Price Stabilization


OFFICE OF PRICE STABILIZATION also known as the Price Stabilization Board, was the federal agency whose task was to control prices during the Korean War.

The onset of hostilities on 25 June 1950 came as a complete surprise to Americans. Fear of a major conflict with the Soviet Union and still-fresh memories of rationing programs during World War II lead to massive hoarding and panic buying by both consumers and manufacturers. Retail sales for July 1950 increased by 8 percent. After the first month of the war, prices for coffee had increased 9 percent; tin, 26 percent; and rubber, 27 percent. Against this backdrop, on 19 July 1950, in a message to Congress detailing the progress of the war, President Harry Truman asked for limited economic powers to pursue mobilization efforts. This led to the Defense Production Act of 1950, which gave the president the option of imposing rationing and wage and price controls.

Initially, Truman tried to avoid imposing wage and price controls to slow inflation, instead pinning his hopes on credit controls and voluntary compliance. These hopes proved futile. By the end of September 1950, government figures showed that prices for a basket of twenty-eight commodities had increased by 25 percent since the beginning of the war. On 9 September 1951, Executive Order 10161 created the Economic Stabilization Agency (ESA) and Wage Stabilization Board (WSB). The order also allowed for a director of price stabilization under the aegis of the ESA. General Order Number 2 of the ESA formally established the Office of Price Stabilization on 24 January 1951, with Michael DiSalle, mayor of Toledo, as its administrator.

OPS's first act was to announce a price freeze on 26 January 1951. This stopgap measure proved unpopular and unwieldy, and, in many cases, OPS was forced to increase prices. It was not until April 1951 that OPS issued a long-range price control strategy. However, that plan also failed to gather popular support. OPS operations were hampered throughout its existence by the continuous debate over the appropriate level of mobilization and governmental economic control required for an undeclared war. Indeed, Allan Valentine, the first director of ESA, was opposed to establishing price controls. OPS also found many of its efforts undercut by salary rulings of the WSB, especially in the steelworkers' salary dispute of March 1952.

On 6 February 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower's Executive Order 10434 called for the end of all price and wage controls. OPS ended all activities on 30 April 1953 with residual operations passing to ESA.


Pierpaoli, Paul G., Jr. Truman and Korea: The Political Culture of the Early Cold War. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1999.

Heller, Francis H., ed. The Korean War: A Twenty-Five-Year Perspective. Lawrence: Regents Press of Kansas, 1977.

William G.Hines

See alsoKorean War .

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Office of Price Stabilization." Dictionary of American History. . 13 Feb. 2019 <>.

"Office of Price Stabilization." Dictionary of American History. . (February 13, 2019).

"Office of Price Stabilization." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved February 13, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.