The Dismal Science

Opinion: Eric Crampton on the Psychoactive Substances Amendment Bill

Eric Crampton Mar 23, 2018

Legal markets for marijuana and ecstasy and the safer party pills, where products were subject to the Consumer Guarantees Act and where producers adulterating products would be punished, would stop Fentanyl-laced drugs at concerts and would be far more effective than ramping up punishments for producers of synthetic drugs. National pushing for increased penalties on this one is … Read More

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The deregulated interregnum

Eric Crampton Mar 16, 2018

E-cigarettes in New Zealand are in a really interesting spot right now. Last year, the then National-government signalled that a new legal regime for vaping was on its way. At the time, importation of nicotine-containing vaping liquids for personal consumption was allowed, but retail sale within New Zealand was not. That wasn’t to say it didn’t happen, but you kinda … Read More

Rational addiction and Naloxone

Eric Crampton Mar 12, 2018

Suppose for a moment that addicts are rational and that we’re really in a Becker-Murphy world. What happens in that world if a new technology makes it safer to consume an addictive product? If you’re overdosing on opioids, Naloxone can save your life. The easier is access to Naloxone, the less likely addicts are to die if they have an … Read More

Sweet Relief: Eric Crampton on the Sugar Tax

Eric Crampton Mar 08, 2018

For the past several years, public health lobbyists have pretended that all opposition to sugar taxes is ideologically motivated or dishonest. They have argued that the only thing stopping the government from implementing their beneficent proposals has been the actions of nefarious interest groups. And so it is interesting to read what the Ministry of Health’s officials actually thought about … Read More

On the link between US pay and productivity

Paul Walker Feb 26, 2018

From VoxEU.org comes a column by Anna Stansbury and Lawrence Summers on the relationship between pay and productivity in the US. Since 1973, there has been divergence between labour productivity and the typical worker’s pay in the US as productivity has continued to grow strongly and growth in average compensation has slowed substantially. This … Read More

Earthquake anniversaries

Eric Crampton Feb 22, 2018

Seventh anniversary of the Christchurch earthquakes. GNS figures there’s about a 1/120 annual risk of something of similar size hitting Wellington: 0.833%. Recovery here will be much harder than in Christchurch. There are few local options for firms to relocate to while downtown is torn down and possibly rebuilt. There are few transit routes in and out. The airport could … Read More

Cannabis Cross-price Elasticities

Eric Crampton Feb 19, 2018

It’s been a bit of an open question whether legalised marijuana would lead to more or less alcohol use.  If the two goods are complements, say if people liked drinking while consuming cannabis, then any increase in cannabis use could yield greater alcohol use. If they were substitutes and people smoked instead of drinking, alcohol use could drop. RAND … Read More

Informative advertising

Eric Crampton Feb 09, 2018

New Zealand’s in a fun legal limbo right now on e-cigarettes. Everybody knows that the Ministry of Health is soon to be liberalising, so the de jure restrictions that prevent selling of nicotine-containing e-liquids aren’t being enforced. It’s pretty easy to get vaping liquid. In some ways, whatever regulatory regime comes out of this will be more restrictive than the … Read More

Bad Beer takes

Eric Crampton Feb 08, 2018

The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson likes craft beer. But his take on its rise in the US doesn’t make a lot of sense. And I’m surprised that Noah Smith didn’t catch the errors. Thompson argues that the complicated morass of American state-level regulations around brewing and beer distribution meant that the big brewers couldn’t take the whole field. At … Read More