Monthly Archives: March 2006

The half-century

I presented a seminar this morning at the University of Queensland, looking at how many taxpayers bunch below the sharp HECS repayment threshold (answer: very few). John Quiggin, Australia’s most famous econ-blogger, was kind enough to come along, and casually revealed over coffee … Continue reading

Posted in Universities | 1 Comment

Zoe Hall

Crikey has been reporting on the Bulletin‘s bizarre decision to publish a 12-page profile of Martin Bryant, the Tasmanian serial killer (more from the Hobart Mercury). Herald Sun editor Peter Blunden has been one of the strongest critics of the … Continue reading

Posted in Media | 3 Comments

The Safe Way?

When new drugs are approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, they are only allowed to be sold in chemists. But while the chemists close early, my local Safeway is open until midnight. And it’s decided that if it can’t stock … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Economics and Public Policy – RBC and New Keynesian Readings

For those who are interested in the debate between the New Keynesians and the Real Business Cycle folks, the following links may be of interest. Discussion on the Marginal Revolution blog after Kydland and Prescott won the 2004 Nobel. Sergio … Continue reading

Posted in Economics & Public Policy Course | 1 Comment

Is flu the past-tense of fly?

Turns out I’m not invincible after all. After mentioning on the blog last week that I was going to Germany for the weekend, I feel obliged to report that I’ve come down with an atrocious head cold, rendering me basically … Continue reading

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Do you always get the "right" answer when you use maths?

Ariel Rubinstein (NYU & Tel Aviv Uni) has a neat piece in the latest issue of the Economic Journal, in which students are asked to solve a firm optimisation problem, deciding how many workers a firm should fire. The profit … Continue reading

Posted in From the Frontiers | 3 Comments

Born 1985, Received PhD 2006

According to the Melbourne University News, the university just graduated their youngest-ever PhD student. Dr Yao Ban Chan, 21 years of age, received his PhD in the mathematics of DNA entanglement. The newspaper quotes him saying “I love doing maths because it … Continue reading

Posted in Universities | 6 Comments

More bull than bullseye

An article in today’s Oz has Newspoll boasting that their polls for the South Australian election “hit the bullseye”. Bold stuff for a company who had Labor winning with 52% of the two-party vote a month out from the 2004 federal election, and … Continue reading

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Coming soon….

This blog will be kicking off sometime during the next week. Meanwhile, check out my existing blog, or my academic website.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Sitting in Metal Tubes, Thinking About How Far the Apple Falls From the Tree

I’m going to be offline for a few days, heading over to a conference in Mannheim, Germany, to present a paper on levels and changes in intergenerational inequality in Australia. The paper involves estimating father-son earnings correlations, using occupations as … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Advertising mulesings

The latest Australian tourism campaign, "So where the bloody hell are you?" has fallen foul of the British because of the word "bloody", and now the Canadians because of the word "hell". Surely it can’t be long before the New … Continue reading

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Free Ideas

I’m speaking at the Brisbane Festival of Ideas next week. In case anyone north of the border is interested in popping along, the full program is here. Thanks to generous sponsorship from the state government, most sessions are free.

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A Grand Night at the G

Amazing session at the athletics last night. I had gone along thinking that the highlight would be seeing Asafa Powell, the current world record holder, run the men’s 100m. He was powerfully impressive, but well off his world record pace … Continue reading

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Sullivan Beats New York Times Downunder

According to Crikey, Domain registrar Melbourne IT are responsible for ditching Richard Neville’s hoax mockup of the PM’s website (Google snapshot here). I’m no great fan of the old conspiracy theorist, but it would be nice if Australia took a … Continue reading

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EPP – Articles of Interest

James Surowiecki’s discussion of Bolivia in the New Yorker a few weeks ago makes some useful points on hyperinflation, the Washington Consensus and modest reformers. Wondering what impact the Commonwealth Games will have on Melbourne’s economy? If this review of … Continue reading

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Is Inequality All Norm's Fault?

My friend Andrew Norton politely takes me to task for suggesting that social norms about inequality can themselves affect inequality. He argues that the shifts in attitudes have been minimal, and then goes on to argue that: The larger reason … Continue reading

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State of Iraq

With talk of civil war now more common, the latest Mike O’Hanlon and friends State of Iraq oped in the NYT is the most depressing yet. On the economy: The country’s economy continues to disappoint. Although it had a fairly … Continue reading

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Oh Behave!

The latest issue of the Harvard magazine has an article on behavioural economics. Unsurprisingly, it overemphasises the role of Harvard academics in the research, but it’s still a good introduction to the field. My favourite quote is this one from … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

See No Evil

John Garnaut has a piece in today’s SMH on tax evasion. I’m quoted on one of my pet peeves – that Australia has never conducted a randomised audit of all taxpayers. We’ve done random audits of particular industries – such … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Opt-Out Debunked

Claudia Goldin, in an academic paper and now a NYT oped, neatly demolishes the anecdotal suggestions that highly educated American women are today "opting out" of the labour force.

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EPP Readings – Monetary Policy

The Reserve Bank has written a neat seven-page summary of how its open market operations work. For an example of the factors the Reserve Bank takes into account in making its decisions, see its most recent March statement. Some have … Continue reading

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Mr 18 Percent – Why Does He Bother?

…read the Bulletin’s front page in 1989. Their target then was John Howard. After also scoring an 18% approval rating in the polls yesterday, I suspect Kim Beazley will be subject to similar treatment.

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The Simple Life

Peter Martin (the holiday Gittins) has an article in today’s SMH arguing for simplifying our tax filing system. And I’m not just saying that because I get a footnote.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Cottage industries

My attention was just drawn to a new OECD report, looking at educational spending and performance. Fave quote: Education in Europe [and Australia – AL] continues as a cottage industry, with practitioners working in isolation and building their practice on … Continue reading

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For Richer, For Richer

Tony Atkinson and I have a paper out today on trends in Australian inequality from 1921-2002. The abstract: Using taxation statistics, we estimate the income share held by top income groups in Australia over the period 1921-2002. We find that … Continue reading

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A Saville Decision

I’m delighted to hear that Jane Saville has been selected to carry the Commonwealth Games flag tomorrow. Having trained with Jane for a couple of years, while we were both teenage racewalkers (she beat me by a very large margin), … Continue reading

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I Never Read Anything My Friends Haven't Written

Fresh from mistaking an electorate-wide swing towards John Howard for young people disproportionately swinging towards the Coalition (my critique, Larvartus Prodeo’s, Peter Brent’s), Caroline Overington has begun reviewing books she hasn’t read: Now it’s happening again, with people such as … Continue reading

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Home team advantage

According to, it’s 11C in Melbourne this morning. Cycling to work past the Commonwealth Games athletes’ village, I passed two South African athletes jogging with beanies on.

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Optional taxes?

"In today’s world, paying more than the company tax rate of 30 per cent is optional. After you’ve gone beyond that threshold, you merely incorporate and be done with it." Does this statement sound reasonable to you? If so, I … Continue reading

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Economics & Public Policy – New Readings

The Week 5 quiz is now on the course website. Some more trade readings: Paul Krugman’s essay Ricardo’s Difficult Idea is one of the nicest expositions as to why plenty of smart people don’t understand the theory behind free trade. … Continue reading

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