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Royal Melbourne Show

My son William cajoled me into taking him to the Royal Melbourne Show today. He didn’t have to push hard – it was a beautiful sunny day in Melbourne and I felt like going out somewhere rather than stay indoors working on an overdue consultancy report.

Some good ring events (super trucks that smashed […]

Modern Times

I thought some of the reviews of Modern Times by Bob Dylan were over the top in their praise. But I’ve taken the evening off tonight (with some Cougar Dark Rum – I was a sucker for those busty blonde ads!) and been listening to my recently acquired copy of it. It is the best […]

Returned from Perth

I am back in Melbourne after a pleasant 6 days in Perth. My visit to this city really made a bigger impression on me than the Australian Conference of Economists. The economy of WA is presently growing faster than China with a growth rate in GDP of 11.7%.In today’s Australian Financial Review it is reported […]

Lazy economists?

I was interested in this piece in The Australian’s Higher Education supplement discussing a report by Frank Neri and Joan Rodgers (the full paper here) indicating that in the vast majority of economics departments in Australia – 25 out of 29 – at least half the faculty published nothing in the top 159 economic journals […]

Inadequate assessment of gains from skilled migration

At the Australian Conference of Economists today I was asked to comment on papers by John Salerian of the Productivity Commission that draws on an immigration model constructed by Monash University’s Centre for Policy Studies. The latter was also presented by Graeme Cuxson and James Giesecke from Monash. I didn’t like the model that was […]

Being fat and miserable

Lee Smith pointed out to me that Monash University researchers are investigating the effects of being obese on depression levels. Its not just another ‘nobody loves me’ type of sob story – some obese people struggle with excess weight all their lives and yet are perceived in society as lazy slobs who cannot exert self-control. […]

Perth thoughts

I am in Perth for the Australian Conference of Economists. I’ve been talking to businessmen here who describe the local scene as booming and subject to widely-discussed labour supply shortages. I’ll meet the academic economists tomorrow.I’ve visited Perth many times but it does look particularly prosperous now – construction projects everywhere, new cars on the […]

Globalisation is good and will get better

The Economist celebrates the creation of a new world economic order where newly-emerging developing countries dominate. Currently, measured in purchasing power parity, developing countries account for half of world output, use half the world’s energy and have most of the world’s foreign exchange reserves.Economic power is shifting, in particular towards Asia – the rich countries […]

Arguments for liberalising gambling

Gary Becker and Richard Posner provide a case for liberalising gambling at their joint blog. In particular they advance arguments for accepting online gambling. As one opposed to increasing the extent of gambling I need to be able to counter or address these arguments.Demand for gambling. Posner sees illegal gambling as an under-enforced, ‘victimless’ crime […]

The case for a skilled migration focus.

This is the draft paper on skilled migration I will give at the Australian Conference of Economist Conference in Perth next Monday. Even at this late stage comments are welcome.1. Introduction. The Productivity Commission’s Position Paper Economic Impacts of Migration and Population Growth considers the effects of recent policy trends that place a greater emphasis […]

Thailand coup

I am more than a bit of a fan of the Thais having lived in Bangkok for 8 years and having seemingly permanent Thai connections. So like Salon, I am upset to hear of the coup that has occurred there. The coups in Thailand generally pass without great violence but what is disappointing is that, […]

How to be a genius

New Scientist has an interesting piece on how to be a genius. It is an updated version of the 99% perspiration, 1% inspiration story. You need to have strong intelligence to be a genius but also a ‘fire in the belly’ that gives you a sustained ability to focus. Indeed you need to focus for […]

Rape as punishment for attending school

Pack rape in Pakistan can be a punishment for females who attend school. A recent gang rape by local villagers of a girl and her mother occurred because the girl disobeyed the villagers by going to school. Even the local police refused to intervene until the 12th day of the rapes.This incident brings to mind […]

Addiction and inequality

I am in Adelaide attending an NCETA (National Centre on Training and Addiction) Summer School ‘A Fair Go for All? Policy Responses to Alcohol, Drug and Gambling Issues’. The intent is to look at links between social inequality and various addictions.A lot of the people present have come from the field of population health. Much […]

Mr Stuart’s Track

My pick of the non-fiction historical writing I have read this year is Mr Stuart’s Track by John Bailey . This is a gripping account of the life of perhaps Australia’s greatest explorer, John McDouall Stuart, in his efforts to explore some of the most arid and difficult country in Australia – namely our red […]

Wealth & neurosis

Paul Krugman asks whether Americans have become better off since 1973. His answer is ambiguous which is the answer. The same is so for Australia – more flat screen TVs, more traffic jams and more worries about….

The demand for environmental quality is probably a luxury good. So too is the demand for neurotic beliefs. […]

Mr Beazley the demand for labour slopes downward!

Mr Beazley responded to Ms Vanstone’s comments yesterday by saying that he likes lots of migrants but doesn’t want wages to go down.

But if the demand for labour has some elasticity firms will hire more workers only when they are cheaper. So if labour supplies increase the real wage must either fall or, […]

Labor’s race credentials

John Quiggin has posted a critical assessment of Senator Amanda Vanstone at his blog. I think, to the contrary, she is quite a good Minister for Immigration which is a tough ministerial portfolio. Inevitably the Minister ends up having to play God with people’s lives. In some cases, issues of life and death are involved. […]

Blog news

Andrew Norton has now set out on his own (exiting the Catallaxy blog) with, guess what, Andrew Norton’s blog here. I think there are some technical issues – I could not connect this morning. Andrew will presumably continue to post on happiness research and other topics – but it is in the area of education […]

Youth smoking

I am working on smoking research – hence my obsession with this issue in recent posts – and will post the draft of a longer report on this topic shortly. I have been re-reading W. Kip Viscusi’s, Smoke Filled Rooms and checking whether some of his strong conclusions for the US apply here. Its a […]