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Chinese equity market drives world equity markets

It will be a nervous day for traders on the Australian stock market today after a 400 point fall on Wall Street after a 9% decline in Chinese stocks. The US fall was the worst since the first day of trading after September 11, 2001. The Chinese decline was due to expected tighter monetary conditions […]

Public vs. private school funding again

Since 1996 state school enrolments in Australia have risen 1.2% while independent and catholic school enrolments have increased 21.5%. As argued in an earlier post these trends could reflect a move to quality or a move by aspirational parents to give their kids a ‘leg up’.

Our ratbag teacher unions (the lot who want […]

Combating domestic terrorism

The Age editorializes that the system of placing air marshals on planes to combat terrorism is an expensive failure. In 4 years the scheme has cost the government $106 million – about $26 million per year. The actual ticket cost of travelling – the marshal’s fly business class – is absorbed by the airlines and […]

Dolphin slaughter in Japan

I am not a vegetarian although I have sympathies with the animal rights movement. Animals have rights that should be protected by humans. This is a plausible ethical position. That almost all humans recognize such rights is implied by the near universal aversion civilized people feel regarding deliberate cruelty to animals. This suggests that animals […]

Wasteful backyard water conservation efforts

Investing in a backyard water tank is one way of escaping the effects of water restrictions. But it is much more expensive than supplying water to households by investing more in the water supply system. This is hardly suprising given the enormous economies of scale economics identifies in the processes of storing and distributing water. […]

Climate change and agriculture

I am developing an interest in the effects of climate change in the Murray-Darling Basin. What types of adaptation policies should be adopted in this important component of Australian agriculture? There is already an ‘action plan’ for addressing climate change issues generally in Australian agriculture. There is quite a bit of other literature. A global […]

Pipe dream?

I have tried in the past few weeks to suggest profit-making opportunities from climate change. I wonder if having a share market punt on pipe manufacturers makes good sense given our dire water supply situation and Mr Howard’s plans to improve irrigation piping efficiencies in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Even if Howard’s plans don’t come off […]

Asteroids, global warming & planning for catastrophic risk

According to stargazers an asteroid (called 99942 Apophis) with a 1 in 45,000 chance of hitting the earth in 2036 should be targeted for ‘deflection’ by a ‘gravity tractor’ space vehicle mission organised by the UN. The cost of a direct hit by the asteroid on earth is estimated at $400 billion. The expected damage […]

Bracks no grinning angel

The Fitzgerald Inquiry into Queensland Police Corruption recommended that the State Government premier and police minister should only meet police union officers when the Chief Police Commissioner was present. The intention was to keep the police union at arm’s length from government – to keep the process honest. These principles apply particularly to the Victorian […]

Facts on smoking – incidence & health issues

This post contained some data errors. I have reposed the whole thing with corrections here.

Financial incentives to induce healthy behavior

An insidious externality in our comprehensive health cover system is that poor health risks, even if induced by negligent individual behavior, are borne as costs by the community rather than those who create them. This is moral hazard. Consumers have inadequate incentives to look after their health since their health costs are partly borne by […]

Denialism will harm the Liberal Party

Nick Minchin is someone in the Liberal Party I respect so I am puzzled about his remarks urging caution over the claimed case for anthropogenic climate change.

Nick is correct that we should maintain a healthy dose of skepticism regarding the likely extent of climate change given underlying climatic uncertainties. We should keep an […]

Advantages of private schools?

Have people lost faith in public schools because of their unsound educational practices? Or is it just that, with rising incomes, aspirational parents seek to give their children a ‘leg up’ by investing more intensively in education by sending children to private schools?

Investing in a private education does provide tertiary educational advantage. The […]

Conservation news – the Night parrot

Australia has a poor record of conserving mammal species but quite a good record for, at least, not allowing bird species to become extinct.

22 Australian mammals have become extinct since white settlement. A few extant species survive only on offshore islands where they are protected from introduced predators such as cats and foxes. […]


Staying in Lorne, Victoria for a couple of days. Lorne is a coastal resort about 140 kms south of Melbourne. Its a work-related visit but hopefully can visit the Otway National Park and have a swim at the Lorne beach. If I do swim it will be my first at a Victorian beach for quite […]

Thinking about alcohol policy

I’ve taken a bit of flak for what are claimed to be my illiberal, paternalistic views on drugs policy. Last October I presented a paper to the Australian Professional Society on Alcohol and Other Drugs Annual Conference in Cairns. This provides what I think is a fairly liberal position that pretty much reflects my views. […]

Developing countries & climate change policies

I have been thinking about climate change issues in developing countries like China. The following notes provide some preliminary thoughts. I’d welcome comments.

Developing countries like China have low per capita energy consumptions, low efficiencies of energy use and, because of their population size, high aggregate greenhouse gas emission levels. They are also experiencing […]

Under-valuing catastrophic risk

Tim Flannery reacted to the recent 4th IPCC report by claiming that its middle-of-the-road forecasts ignored the potential for very steep temperature rises of 6 degrees C (with probability 0.1) and for very rapid melting of the Arctic Ice Cap in 5-15 years. In short he claimed the IPCC understated the possibility of catastrophic risks. […]

A US attack on Iran?

I’ve speculated over the past year about the prospects of the US going to war with Iran. The Economist this week thinks there are good reasons for supposing it might happen despite the US defence secretary’s claim February 2 that ‘We are not planning for a war with Iran’. They advance four reasons.

Iran’s apparent […]

Anna Nicole Smith RIP

They don’t waste time do they?

The culture vultures are picking at her bones already. Over at Deltoid the newspaper space given to this ‘minor American celebrity’ is being compared to the lack of space given to reports of ‘excess deaths’ of 650,000 Iraqis. Clever point Tim! I thought her life and death were […]