Michael Reddell

The tech sector… and ongoing economic underperformance - The Dismal Science

Oct 19, 2017

The 13th annual TIN (“Technology Investment Network”) report was released a couple of days ago.  I’ve largely managed to ignore the previous twelve –  breathless hype and all –  but for some reason I got interested yesterday, and started digging around in the material that was accessible to the public (despite lots of taxpayer subsidies the full report is expensive) and then in some of the New Zealand economic data.   Perhaps it was the seeming disconnect between the rhetoric from the sector, and its public sector backers, and the reality of an economy that has had no productivity growth at all for five years, and where exports as a share of GDP have been falling (and are projected by The Treasury to keep on falling). The centrepiece of the report is an analysis of “New Zealand’s … Read More

Remoteness….occasionally a benefit - The Dismal Science

Oct 15, 2017

I’ve been a little unclear what to make of the Rocket Lab story.   Don’t get me wrong, I liked the idea that our regulatory systems can, on occasion, be sufficiently adaptive to cope with new and innovative industries –  even if it is far from generally true.  And I wish all the best to any New Zealander with innovations they succeed in taking to the world market, and if that includes rocket launches that’s fine. But there was the nagging question of why such an activity would be taking place in New Zealand at all.  We aren’t exactly close to anywhere, let alone home to great centres of expertise.  But there were those government subsidies –  up to $25 million of taxpayers’ money to Rocket Lab, as well as the cost of the regulatory regime (15 to 20 … Read More

Immigration policy and emissions targets - The Dismal Science

Oct 01, 2017

I’ve written a few posts in recent months about the connections between our immigration policy – materially boosting our population growth rate – and New Zealand greenhouse gas emissions (for example here and here).  New Zealand is unusual because, as the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) has highlighted: • we have a fairly high rate of trend population growth, • a large chunk of our emissions are from animals, and • much of our power has long been generated from renewable sources. I’ve also written here about Official Information Act requests to MfE (responsible for climate change policy advice) and MBIE (responsible for immigration policy advice). It turned out that neither ministry had given any thought at all, or done any work on, possible connections between immigration policy and the economic challenges of emissions reductions target (the … Read More

Unpicking Steven Joyce’s press release - The Dismal Science

Sep 02, 2017

As I noted yesterday afternoon, Steven Joyce had put out a press release on productivity.  The press release was a mix of policy-based digs at the Labour Party (which weren’t of any particular interest to me) and some statistical claims, some of which seemed more or less reasonable and others not.   The press release made these claims On one of the key measures of productivity, GDP per hours worked, New Zealand’s productivity has lifted nearly 10 per cent since National came into office. That’s a faster rate than the UK, Canada, the US, the EU, the G7 and the average across the whole OECD. “The last time Labour was in office, it was the reverse. Our productivity growth was 5.5 per cent over eight years and much slower than all those other economies. I wasn’t quite … Read More

MBIE on how emissions reductions targets interact with immigration policy - The Dismal Science

Jul 13, 2017

        No, that blank space wasn’t a mistake.  It was the sum total of everything MBIE has written or commissioned (analysis, advice, research, or whatever), in the period since the start of 2014 on how the appropriate or optimal immigration policy for New Zealand might be affected by commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At the start of the period the government was considering what commitments to make under the then-forthcoming Paris climate accord. For the last couple of years, those commitments have been firm policy. As a reminder. this is how the Ministry for the Environment describes New Zealand’s commitments New Zealand has recently formalised its first Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement to reduce its emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The Paris Agreement envisages all countries taking progressively ambitious emissions … Read More

A question for the Minister of Education - The Dismal Science

Jun 30, 2017

I usually don’t pay much attention to the output of the Ministry of Education or its ministers.  I often fear that if I did it would turn out to be about disconcerting as MBIE’s output.   I focus on getting my own kids through the school system with as little enduring damage as possible  (one of the real joys of being a stay-at-home parent is the time to counter the “indoctrination” that comes from, say, fourth form social studies teachers). Every time I walk past the Ministry of Education’s head office in Wellington, their slogan or motto emblazoned across the front of the building gets my goat.  It reads “Lifting aspiration and raising educational achievement for every New Zealander” It must have sounded good to the bureaucrats and their PR people, but frankly it is the sort of slogan that … Read More

Emissions policy and immigration policy - The Dismal Science

Jun 21, 2017

A month or so ago I ran a couple of posts on New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions in international context.  Readers may recall that New Zealand now has the second highest emissions per unit of GDP of any OECD country, having moved up from sixth in 1990.     As part of the Paris climate change accord process, New Zealand has made ambitious promises to reduce its total emissions substantially.   This was the wording from the terms of reference for the new Productivity Commission inquiry into how best the economy might adjust given the climate targets New Zealand has recently formalised its first Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement to reduce its emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The Paris Agreement envisages all countries taking progressively ambitious emissions reduction targets beyond 2030. Countries are … Read More

Changes in New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions - The Dismal Science

May 28, 2017

After my post the other day, I pricked up my ears when I heard on the radio that new data on greenhouse gas emissions had been released, and at the same time heard various industry lobby groups calling for more government support (money or regulation”) for this, that or the other mitigating measure. It is the costs of meeting the New Zealand government’s emissions reduction target that worries me. (As it happens, I was emitting carbon at the time, driving home from the supermarket in a petrol-fuelled car.  But I had already walked up the (rather steep) hill carrying several kilos of groceries home earlier in the morning.) The release consists primarily of a 542 page report from the Ministry for the Environment (MfE).  But they also had a convenient eight page summary document. In my post the … Read More

More people means more emissions. So how about fewer people? - The Dismal Science

May 24, 2017

I’ve never had that much interest in climate change.  Perhaps it comes from living in Wellington.   If average local temperatures were a couple of degrees warmer here most people would be quite happy.    And as successive earthquakes seem to have the South Island pushing under the North Island, raising the land levels around here –  you can see the dry land that just wasn’t there before 1855 –  it is a bit hard to get too bothered about rising local sea levels.  Perhaps it is a deep moral failing, a failure of imagination, or just an aversion to substitute religions.  Whatever the reason, I just haven’t had much interest. But a story I saw yesterday reminded me of a post I’d been meaning to write for a few weeks.  According to Newshub, In documents released under … Read More

New immigration data from Statistics New Zealand - The Dismal Science

May 22, 2017

One can, and does, grizzle about the range and quality of New Zealand’s official statistics.  But last Friday saw a small but welcome step forward. On various occasions I’ve written about the limitations of the permanent and long-term migration data.  Those data are based on the self-reported intentions of travellers at the time they cross the New Zealand border, and people can and do change their minds.  That is as true of New Zealand citizens coming and going as it is non-citizens. Prompted by the Reserve Bank, in late 2014 Statistics New Zealand published a paper containing some experimental work they had done trying to estimate the actual permanent and long-term movements (ie allowing for the ability of travellers to change their minds and their plans).    That work confirmed that, while the broad patterns were similar, on occasions … Read More