Monthly Archives: May 2006

Not Foxy Enough

There’s been a lot of ink spilt lately on Rupert Murdoch’s suggestion that John Howard should get going while the going’s good. But it’s not clear to me that Murdoch’s prognostications about the future should be given too much weight. Here he … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, Economics Generally | 1 Comment

Subbies behaving badly

Crikey today references an AAP article that details numerous indiscretions by Australian “shock jocks”. It’s a fun read… and don’t forget to look at the hyperlink.

Posted in Australian Politics | 4 Comments

Tax competition across the Tasman

Only one problem for this argument: Australia’s top rate just got cut from 47% to 45%. NZ’s is 39%.

Posted in Tax | 2 Comments

Is growth unsustainable?

From the website of the UNSW social work department comes one of the most common critiques of economic growth: Our society’s most fundamental mistake is our commitment to affluent-industrial-consumer lifestyles and to an economy that must have constant and limitless … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally | 23 Comments

Orchestral manoeuvres

An evening at the symphony left me wondering. Do we have all those violins because no-one has so far invented a violin that plays at several times the volume of the current instrument? Or is there something inherent in having … Continue reading

Posted in Eclectic Observations | 5 Comments

This book would not have been possible without the assistance of [your name here]

Griffith University’s Dr AJ Brown is writing a biography of my old boss, Justice Michael Kirby. AJ is hiring a Canberra-based research assistant for 12 months, starting ASAP. More details here.

Posted in Law | Comments Off on This book would not have been possible without the assistance of [your name here]

Economics for Government – readings on poverty & inequality

Following on from our discussion on poverty and inequality in class yesterday, you may wish to read some more on the topic: Xavier Sala-i-Martin from Columbia University, showing that the world distribution has narrowed over the past thirty years (also … Continue reading

Posted in Economics for Government Course | 4 Comments

Slipped disc

So a decorated army officer leaves a CD in a computer, and instead of giving it back, the finder sends it to a dirt-digging shock jock. The shock jock broadcasts details of the report, causing further pain to the Kovco … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | 10 Comments

Imbibing Ideas

I’ll be talking next Tuesday night (May 23) to the “young professionals network” of the Institute of Public Administration Australia at the National Press Club in Canberra. I’m on a double-bill with Lindy Edwards, and my spiel will be why we … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally | Comments Off on Imbibing Ideas

Nous Jobs

My friend Tim Watts tells me that the boutique strategy firm he works for, the Nous Group, is looking to hire half a dozen people in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. Their pitch: The Nous Group is a 40 person consulting … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Nous Jobs

When too much economics is never enough

An updated RSSS economics seminar schedule for May and June is below. All will be held in the Coombs Building at ANU.

Posted in Economics Generally | Comments Off on When too much economics is never enough

Biz Rank

The Financial Times’ ranking of business schools has the Melbourne Business School at 69th, and the Australian Graduate School of Management at 75th. I wouldn’t place too much store on the precise numbers (though I do think they’re marginally more … Continue reading

Posted in Universities | 2 Comments

Elections and the ecological fallacy

Over at Larvartus Prodeo, Mark Bahnisch reports on a new book by George Megalogenis: Megalogenis argues that Labor lost in 96 because it lost the middle and upper income voters who’d given support to Hawke and Keating, and that the … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | 12 Comments

One for the money, two for the show

Putting a new spin on an old idea, Sally Satel argues in the NYT that we should pay kidney donors. She also has the best opening line of any oped I’ve read this year: March was National Kidney Month. I … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally | 1 Comment


Eddie Lazear is a brilliant economist, and one of the best communicators in academia. But apparently even the best find it hard to avoid the spin zone when they get to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Jared Bernstein unpicks his latest WSJ op-ed.

Posted in Economics Generally, US Politics | Comments Off on Unspun

The folks who put the OO in Boots

Online Opinion is calling for contributions to its June issue. Anyone who wants to write a piece should send it to Susan Prior (susan AT I am putting together the June feature for Our topic this month is: … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | Comments Off on The folks who put the OO in Boots

Should the federal government fund a broadband rollout?

One of the Big IdeasTM in Kim Beazley’s budget reply speech last week was that the federal government should fund a broadband rollout. This would make some sense if there were large positive externalities inherent in broadband use. But this seems … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally, Economics of Education | 13 Comments

Scholarship, blogging and trade-offs

Eugene Volokh has just put out a paper on academic blogging. The conclusion is unsatisfying, but the article is enjoyable. I especially like his definition of “blegging”, denoting the practice of academics asking their readers for help (blogging+begging).

Posted in Blogging | 1 Comment

Wran PM?

Troy Bramston’s book on former NSW Premier Neville Wran was launched in Sydney last week, attended by the NSW Right’s two favourite men, Keating and Wran. It reminded me of Bob Ellis’s suggestion that had it not been for a … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | 7 Comments


In the SMH today, I have a review of The Australian Miracle, a terrific science policy book by Thomas Barlow. The published version isn’t online, which isn’t all bad, as it was somewhat bowdlerised (after reading my review, tell me if you … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, Universities, What I'm Reading | 9 Comments

Why National Competitiveness is Meaningless

Twelve years ago, Paul Krugman wrote a beautiful article in Foreign Affairs magazine (bootleg version here), in which he argued that: competitiveness is a meaningless word when applied to national economies. And the obsession with competitiveness is both wrong and … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally | 13 Comments


Apologies for not posting for a couple of days. As Kim W so eloquently put it the other day: life trumps blogging. My brother had a nasty motorbike accident on Tuesday night, so we were up in Sydney with him. … Continue reading

Posted in Blogging | Comments Off on Override

The new populists?

Those following the “Where should the Democrats go now?” debate in the NYT may be interested in a new paper by labour economist Stephen Rose, put out by the Progressive Policy Institute. The paper argues against Thomas Frank’s argument that … Continue reading

Posted in US Politics | 14 Comments

$510 for an average worker, $6200 for Malcolm Turnbull

There’ll be plenty of post-budget spin around in the next few days, so just a few minor observations: In a neat exercise in bait-and-switch, the increases in family tax benefits that were “leaked” on Monday turn out to be pretty … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, Economics Generally, Tax | 19 Comments

Critic critiqued

Guy Rundle says silly things about blogs. Mark Bahnisch responds. John Quiggin and Tim Dunlop pile on. OK folks, nothing more to see here, move along, please….

Posted in Blogging | Comments Off on Critic critiqued

Wrongful births and judicial debuts

One of the strange traditions on the High Court is the debut judgment, in which every new Justice gets a case on which they will write. Then instead of joining the judgment, their bretheren write a one liner: “I concur … Continue reading

Posted in Law | 7 Comments

The budget that brings home the triangles

I’m doing post-budget commentary on Sky News this evening, and thought I might spend a bit of time talking about the fact that if the government taxes you $100, and gives you benefits of $100, it’s not a wash. Taxes have a … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, Tax | 9 Comments

Miner thoughts

Listening to the early-morning radio reports of Brant Webb and Todd Russell being released from their two-star hotel this morning made me unexpectedly proud to be an Australian. I’m still struggling to work out precisely why.

Posted in Eclectic Observations | Comments Off on Miner thoughts

Some hot air can be useful

In the latest issue of CEDA’s Australian Chief Executive magazine, Warwick McKibbin has a very accessible outline of the McKibbin-Wilcoxen model, his alternative to the Kyoto Protocol. At he summarises it: My colleague Peter Wilcoxen and I have a system … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally | 13 Comments

Flighty thoughts

I’ve been doing quite a bit of travelling recently, which has prompted a few thoughts. In no particular order. 1. In Melbourne airport, one of the things you notice when moving from the Qantas terminal to the Virgin Blue terminal … Continue reading

Posted in Eclectic Observations, What I'm Reading | 8 Comments