The Dismal Science

An economist chooses his favourite books of 2016

Donal Curtin Dec 18, 2016

Surrounded by “isn’t it awful”, “the world is going to the dogs” types? Here are two antidotes: Nobel laureate Angus Deaton’s The Great Escape: Health, Wealth and the Origins of Inequality and Johan Norberg’s Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future. Both document the immense progress made in the past three hundred years by large parts … Read More

1

Brexit, Trump and all that

Michael Reddell Dec 14, 2016

Last week, The Treasury hosted a guest lecture featuring two visiting academics under the heading Brexit, Trump & Economics: Where did we go wrong.  One of the visitors –  Samuel Bowles, now a professor at the Santa Fe Insitute -had been around long enough that in his youth he had served as an economic adviser in Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign,  … Read More

Great walks, water meters and NZ Super – Solvable problems

Eric Crampton Dec 13, 2016

The world has plenty of hard unsolveable problems. It’s irritating when easy to solve problems fail to be solved, although they too may point to a broader difficult problem. Great walks Swing bridge on the Great Walk Lake Waikaremoana, New Zealand. Wikimedia / Michal Klajban. Item the first: New Zealand’s great walks are, well, great, and very popular with … Read More

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

4

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

Site Meter