Monthly Archives: February 2007

Please welcome…

Well, it took a while, but our first child entered the world at 11.43am this morning. After some consideration of the options, we’ve named him Sebastian Leigh. At 4.4kg, he’s a good sized fella. Mum and bub are doing well. … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of the Family | 32 Comments

Open Thread

I may not be blogging as much as usual this week, so here’s an open thread. Do with it what you will.

Posted in Blogging | 7 Comments

The Economics of Extortion

Patrick Barron and Ben Olken have a great paper out. Entitled The Simple Economics of Extortion: Evidence from Trucking in Aceh, it looks at corruption along trucking routes in Northern Sumatra. There are so many clever and original things that this … Continue reading

Posted in Trade & Development | 4 Comments

Reefer Writing

A particularly persistent urban myth is that the Great Wall of China can be seen by the naked eye from space (Wikipedia has details). I mentioned last year the fact that the Chinese are quite happy to propagate this myth. … Continue reading

Posted in Eclectic Observations | 1 Comment

Obituary for a Beautiful Mind

John Quiggin gave a splendid presentation at the 25 Australasian Economic Theory workshop at ANU yesterday. His title was Can Game Theory Be Saved? (a joint paper with Flavio Menezes). The basic argument is succinctly put on the first page of … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally | 8 Comments

Rennimbi Relief and Bolivar Bestowments

Today’s NYT has an interesting oped on ‘rogue aid’, giving a neat Nigerian example: The Nigerian government operates three railways, which are notoriously corrupt and inefficient. They are also falling apart. The World Bank — where my friend works — … Continue reading

Posted in Trade & Development | Comments Off on Rennimbi Relief and Bolivar Bestowments

Andrew Leigh has a lot to answer for

I just noticed (via A Roll of the Dice) this comment from Mumble*: February 9 Betting markets and the genius of punters Centrebet is paying $1.90 for a Labor win and $1.80 for a Coalition one. These (I think) are … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | 23 Comments

Of pioneers, pilgrims and parsnips

In today’s Australian, Paul Frijters and Tony Beatton take a swipe at my ‘double standards’ in talking about ethnic diversity. Andrew Norton is kind enough to defend me (doing a far better job than I would have done myself). In principle, … Continue reading

Posted in Universities | 43 Comments

Special Delivery

Our baby was due yesterday, and has not yet arrived. My head of department (who is also a mother of four) informed me with a smile that late arrival is positively correlated with bad teenage behaviour. On the other hand, missing … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of the Family | 10 Comments

You can bet on it

If you’ve been following the literature on the predictive power of election betting markets, you may have seen this graph, from  a paper based on data from the first 12 years of the Iowa Electronic Markets. The horizontal axis shows … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, US Politics | 4 Comments

Around the blogs

Bryan Palmer presents evidence that Labor’s vote systematically declines from January onwards in an election year. Perhaps this is an extension of Andrew Norton’s mummy/daddy hypothesis. Voters trust Labor when they’re all happy and relaxed in January, but as Christmas … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Wetter cities, drier (but richer) rural areas

John Quiggin has a terrific CEDA report out today. From the executive summary: Replacing city water restrictions with higher prices in the long term will encourage people to invest in water-saving technologies, find other ways to use less water, and … Continue reading

Posted in Environmental Economics | 8 Comments

Roll Up, Roll Up

I’ve belatedly come across some discussion on Crikey and Simon Jackman’s blog about whether there is a big pool of Australians who are not on the electoral roll. Simon makes a persuasive case that a gap may be emerging, but … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | 2 Comments

Obama's In

Senator Barack Obama officially announced today that he’s running for President. My favourite paras from his speech. It was here, in Springfield, where I saw all that is America converge – farmers and teachers, businessmen and laborers, all of them … Continue reading

Posted in US Politics | 8 Comments

In the Lap of Luxembourg

Bruce Bradbury, economist extraordinaire and regular blog commenter, tells me that UNSW’s SPRC is administering a partial scholarship for an Australian early career researcher to attend a one-week training workshop for the Luxembourg Income Study in Luxembourg from 24-30 June 2007. Applications close … Continue reading

Posted in Inequality | 1 Comment

Econ Talks

The seminar schedule for ANU RSSS economics seminars during February is over the fold. All seminars will be held in the honeycomb-shaped HC Coombs Building.

Posted in Economics Generally | Comments Off on Econ Talks

Watching economists work

Inspired by Joshua Gans, I used Google Maps Australia to pull up the place where I work. I’m in the honeycomb-shaped building on this map. Sure, their positioning isn’t perfect. But I still feel like a little kid every time … Continue reading

Posted in Eclectic Observations, Universities | 5 Comments

Friday teacher talk

Following on from the conference on the economics of teacher quality, Jonah Rockoff (Columbia University) will be talking this Friday about new work he and his coauthors are doing in New York City, looking at the extent to which school … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education | Comments Off on Friday teacher talk

Me, myself and I

Vibewire is currently hosting a debate between Ryan Heath ( and Daniel Donahoo (.com) over individualism versus community. I’d like to see slightly longer contributions from each of them (the conversation is a bit staccato at present), but it’s a … Continue reading

Posted in Social Capital | Comments Off on Me, myself and I

New day, Newspoll

According to today’s Newspoll, if an election were held tomorrow, the ALP would win 56% of the two-party preferred vote, winning by the largest margin since 1966 World War II. Newspoll is effectively telling us that the Coalition’s odds of winning … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics, Media | 17 Comments

Mate for head of state

The latest newsletter from the Australian Republican Movement points out that 95% of Australians agree that “our Head of State should be an Australian”. But when asked “Are you in favour of or against Australia becoming a Republic?”, only 45% are … Continue reading

Posted in Australian Politics | 8 Comments

Conference on 'The Economics of Teacher Quality'

  I ran an ANU conference today on ‘The Economics of Teacher Quality’. If you weren’t able to attend, here are the papers: Eric Hanushek, Stanford University The Market for Teacher Quality (with Steven Rivkin) Ken Rowe, Australian Council for Educational … Continue reading

Posted in Economics of Education | 3 Comments

Mind the Gap

My brother draws my attention to yet another superb Google tool, the Google Gapminder. It’s a compendium of data (I assume from the World Bank’s World Development Indicators) that shows differences across the world in incomes and 16 other social indicators. … Continue reading

Posted in Trade & Development | 1 Comment

Free trading social democrats

The Democratic Leadership Council offers some observations on US trade policy that are surprisingly apt here too. While the president has always been rhetorically pro-trade, he’s presided over a long series of blunders and lost opportunities for trade expansion. He … Continue reading

Posted in Trade & Development | 3 Comments

Photo bleg

I have a couple of thousand old photos that I want to scan in to my computer. Does anyone know of either: (a) a service that charges a reasonable price to scan 4×6’s into jpg’s, or (b) a photo scanner … Continue reading

Posted in Eclectic Observations | 3 Comments

A libertarian thought on water restrictions

Water restrictions have been bugging me a bit lately. Beyond what I wrote a couple of years ago (drop the restrictions, raise the price), I haven’t got anything new to say. But it did occur to me today that restrictions … Continue reading

Posted in Economics Generally | 26 Comments

Bigger Than Texas

Fun facts to drop into the conversation when you’re next chatting to Americans. Q: How many Australian states and territories are bigger than Texas? A: Five (WA, Qld, NT, NSW, SA) (Australian states by landmass here. Texas is 695,000 square km, meaning … Continue reading

Posted in Eclectic Observations | 4 Comments