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Archive: The Dismal Science November 2012

Sugar tax: The Gibson Critique

Eric Crampton Dec 09, 2016

Waikato’s Professor John Gibson last week delivered at Motu what has to be the most devastating critique of the empirical estimates on sugar tax effects that I’ve yet seen. Gibson’s slides are here. Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman has been holding off on sugar taxes, saying that he needed to hold on the results of a couple of … Read More

Key’s legacy – an economist’s view

Michael Reddell Dec 06, 2016

Perhaps nothing became John Key more than the manner of his departure.  Tired –  “nothing left in the tank” –  and admirably unwilling to go into an election year and lie about his willingness to serve another full term, or to just struggle on, he chose to walk away instead. It is rare for political leaders to leave voluntarily when they are well, … Read More

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Prime Minister English?

Eric Crampton Dec 06, 2016

If outgoing Prime Minister John Key has any influence over the choices, and if Bill English wants the job, I expect English will succeed Key as Prime Minister and Steven Joyce will move to the Finance portfolio. More than anybody else in government, as best I’ve been able to tell, Bill English thinks in terms of incentives and institutions. He … Read More

Compensating organ donors

Eric Crampton Dec 01, 2016

It is illegal to pay organ donors for their gift. Economists can easily explain the consequences: at a price of zero, you have a big shortage. This is particularly the case for live donors, where donors face real personal costs, both in the transplant process and in recuperation. Chris Bishop’s bill, which passed Third Reading in the House yesterday, … Read More

Productivity Commission: Good ideas – but now what?

Donal Curtin Nov 29, 2016

Yesterday’s report from the Productivity Commission, ‘Achieving New Zealand’s Productivity Potential’ (press release here, overview here, whole thing here), is full of good ideas. In the housing market, for example, their proposals would have the happy outcome of pressing both the equity and efficiency buttons at once. In addition to dealing to people sleeping in … Read More

Thoughts prompted by Cuba

Michael Reddell Nov 28, 2016

Fidel Castro is dead.  Sadly, the same can’t be said for the brutal regime that has controlled Cuba for 57 years now –  the regime that suppresses speech, religion, and the exercise of democratic freedoms that we take for granted; the regime that executed thousands of its political opponents and which, to this day, imprisons many of those brave … Read More

Quake-prone heritage buildings: spring cleaning

Eric Crampton Nov 25, 2016

Wellington’s quake-prone heritage-listed buildings remain scary. My column in this week’s NBR ($) suggests prioritising the risky heritage buildings, pulling the heritage listings from the scariest ones, and putting public money into the ones where the heritage amenity is really worth it.  Or, Council could just buy the buildings from their owners, fix them itself, and sell them afterwards – … Read More

Uber ignorant

Eric Crampton Nov 25, 2016

Parliament’s transport select committee is considering how to modernise transport regulations… A lot of people who should have failed intermediate microeconomics like to make the following argument. The theory of perfect competition has perfect information as an underlying assumption Nobody has perfect information Therefore, government must regulate to protect people from bad choices because market failure. It’s wrong on a … Read More

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NZ Visas for Nobel winners?

Eric Crampton Nov 24, 2016

Sir Clive Granger won the Nobel Prize in Economics while a visitor at the University of Canterbury’s Economics Department. He loved visiting us. And we loved having him visit us. One of my favourite Sir Clive stories, which predated my joining the Department, was of a departmental seminar where he, as usual, sat quietly at the back of the room. Read More

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