The Dismal Science

Food, culture, regulation

Michael Reddell Apr 29, 2016

The Herald reports that new Auckland university research shows –  shock, horror – that: “Sixty-nine per cent of urban schools have a convenience store within 800m and sixty-two per cent have a fast-food or takeaway shop in that distance” I was surprised the number was that low, but then in Wellington one finds small schools in all sorts of odd … Read More

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Housing: what can be done

Michael Reddell Apr 19, 2016

In the seemingly-endless housing supply debate, there is often a divide between those favouring greater intensification, and those favouring a larger physical footprint for growing cities.  My own policy view is squarely in the “it should be a matter of individual choice, provided the infrastructure etc costs of development are appropriately internalized, and the rights of existing property owners … Read More

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Painting features as bugs: NZ’s carbon emissions trading scheme

Eric Crampton Apr 18, 2016

I hadn’t quite understood New Zealand’s carbon emissions trading scheme before I moved to Wellington. The thing seemed a little dodgy with a fair bit of reliance on dubious foreign credits. But then the genius of the thing was explained to me. I’ve not looked at it properly myself, but the story is interesting, and seems plausible. It goes something … Read More

Things Adam Smith got wrong

Paul Walker Apr 09, 2016

In short, not many and the things he got right far outweigh the things he got wrong, but as  James R. Otteson argues in his book “Adam Smith” there were some wrong steps. In his book Otteson has a chapter on “What Smith Got Wrong”. He suggests four things: Labor Theory of Value, Happiness and Tranquility, Committing the … Read More

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A question for Steven Joyce

Michael Reddell Apr 09, 2016

A reader pointed me to an article on the NBR website in which Science and Innovation Minister [isn’t there something wrong when we even have a government “innovation minister?]  was quoted as telling a business audience yesterday that: more migration is the only way to bridge the current skills gap for ICT companies in New Zealand. and “That’s one … Read More

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New go-to place for business-related data

Aaron Schiff Apr 08, 2016

Over the past few months I’ve had a lot of fun working with Figure.NZ on some really exciting projects. There’s a brilliant new feature called Business Figures. By answering a couple of questions, you can instantly see relevant data for all kinds of businesses in New Zealand. The team put a lot of hard work into this and … Read More

Bottling water and cutting out the middle-cow

Eric Crampton Apr 08, 2016

Over at the Christchurch Press, I went through the current controversies about an Ashburton water bottling plant. New Zealand allocates water drawing rights through a consenting system. Government allocates drawing rights for water, but those rights aren’t really tradeable other than by selling the land that goes with the consent. All over the Canterbury plains, farmers have drawing rights … Read More

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Kiwibank: a retrograde step

Michael Reddell Apr 07, 2016

I wrote about Kiwibank last week, noting that there had never been a good economic reason for the Crown to have established it, and that there was not a good economic reason for the Crown to continue to own it.   Doing so undermines (modestly) the efficiency of the financial system, and poses unnecessary risks for taxpayers. I take it … Read More

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Productivity: where do we stand?

Michael Reddell Apr 06, 2016

Comparisons of material living standards across time and across countries are fraught with measurement problems.  No one seriously questions that 100 years ago we had some of the very highest material living standards, and equally no one really questions that we are a long way off that mark now. Some want to focus instead on wellbeing indicators. That is … Read More

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