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PROFITEERING, a term for making unconscionable or socially destructive profits, especially in times of economic stress and widespread shortages. For example, during the American Revolution speculators profited from fluctuations in paper currency. During the Mexican-American and Civil Wars, profiteers extracted excessive prices from the government for war matériel. During the panic of 1893, J. P. Morgan provided necessary assistance—and made $7.5 million on the deal. Both world wars saw profiteering in munitions, supplies, and commodities. During the 1973–1975 energy crisis, oil corporations reported annual profits ranging up to 800 percent. Governmental and private efforts to control profiteering have encompassed a wide range of techniques, with limited success.


Brandes, Stuart D. Warhogs: A History of War Profits in America. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1997.

The Industrial Reorganization Act, Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly of the Committee on the Judiciary, 93rd Congress, 1st session.

Profiteering, 65th Congress, 2nd session, Senate Document No.248.

Norman JohnPowell


See alsoFinancial Panics ; Munitions ; Oil Crises ; Revolution, American: Profiteering .

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