The Dismal Science

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

Red Zone: Property rights are human rights

Eric Crampton Nov 07, 2016

New Zealand’s Human Rights Commission says that property rights need to be protected in the Bill of Rights. I couldn’t agree more enthusiastically. The report is about what the government did to people in Christchurch’s Red Zone. The land around the Avon River was a mess after the quakes. The government decided that the simplest thing … Read More

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Alcohol restrictions: Availability theory and inventories

Eric Crampton Nov 06, 2016

It never made sense to me that restricting bottle shop hours would have any particular effect on alcohol consumption. It’s an empirical question obviously, but surely people hold inventories against periods of lack of supply. The only time I was caught out was when I didn’t know that Virginia ended bottle sales at 10pm when I was a grad … Read More

Disaster recovery is local

Eric Crampton Nov 04, 2016

There are a lot of lessons from Hurricane Matthew that New Zealand might have found useful in the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes.  Vero de Rugy has a great summary of Virgil Storr’s work for the Mercatus Centre on hurricane recovery in New Orleans. Take a recent investigation by PBS’ “Frontline” and NPR into flood insurance and aid … Read More

Experts: harness them, don’t let them set the course

Michael Reddell Oct 25, 2016

There was interesting long article in The Guardian the other day by Sebastian Mallaby, the author of a new biography of Alan Greenspan, on “The cult of the expert – and how it collapsed”.  His focus is central banking, but his concerns range much wider. For Mallaby, the (alleged) “collapse” of this “cult” is something to lament. Of course, … Read More

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