The Office of Price Administration was a federal agency created in August 1941 under the Office for Emergency Management of the U.S. government. The initial purpose of the OPA was to help control the price of rent and essential goods after the United States became involved in the Second World War.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt used the departments of Consumer Protection and Price Stabilization to create the Office of Price Administration and Civilian Supply, also known as OPACS. OPA’s efforts began in earnest on December 7, 1941, when the Second World War began.
The Office of Price Administration attempted to combat inflation during World War II by decreeing a general maximum price. Due to this rule, maximum prices were fixed for the majority of goods by March 1942. Establishing maximum prices proved successful for automobiles, gasoline, typewriters, and sugar. One source states, “by the end of the war, the rationing program also included coffee, shoes, stoves, meats, processed foods, and bicycles.” Moreover, the OPA fixed maximum prices for rents that people paid on their residences.
Although the program was effective and helpful, it also led to the appearance of black markets and the reduction of food quality. Despite the efforts that were put into these humanitarian aims, prices kept growing rapidly. In turn, the Office of Price Administration made yet more attempts to force businesses and landlords to control prices and rent. One could say that the OPA succeeded in keeping mostly stable prices because nearly 90 percent of all food prices were frozen through the end of the Second World War.