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Australia’s emerging debt crisis

Over the past few years I have repeatedly referred to the effects of rising debt in the Australian economy – most recently here. Australia has been on a huge borrowing binge that follows closely – if not so severely – what has happened in the US and the UK. Our solid, persistent economic growth and […]

Big Kev & the US President

RUDD: Mr President, you said that you had a warm regard for me because from a Texan point of view you found me to be a reasonably straight shooter. I therefore designate you as an honorary Queenslander.

In the great state of Australia (!), I come from the great state of Queensland (!).

It […]

COAG & the new water agreement

Last Thursday I went to a talk by Professor Mike Young on sustainable management plans for the Murray-Darling Basin run by the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society at the Elephant and Wheelbarrow pub in Melbourne. Mike made a presentation based on this paper (well worth reading) and commented on the recent COAG meeting’s water […]

Who are we?

This film clip of a talk given by Jill Taylor at TED is gripping! It describes the personal experience of a female neuroscientist who lost the entire left half of her brain and who could then depict clearly her ‘right brain experience’. It describes the instant when she thought she was in transition between life […]

Lung cancer, who cares? Tobacco company funded research shows it isn’t much of a problem

Last year I cited some studies by Claudia Hensche which suggested that 80% of lung cancer deaths could be avoided through use of CT scans. I suggested in an update that these studies might be overoptimistic because there were far too many false positives and in any event fast-growing tumors are likely to occur between […]

Bitter melon

While I lived in Thailand one of my favourite Thai soups had as its solid ingredient bitter melon often stuffed with a meat such as pork. Bitter melon is now readily available in most Australian fruit markets – particularly those with Asian customers. I have read that it has been suggested as a cure for […]

A case for increasing the minimum age for legal drinking

The proposal to increase the drinking age in Victoria from 18 to 21 is back on the table. It will be considered by the State government if current policy efforts to restrict binge drinking fail.

I strongly support the move to restrict youth access to alcohol with such a policy. Alcohol is a neurotoxin that […]

Maternity economics

In advance of the Productivity Commission report being released Melbourne’s Pravda has come out strongly in support of paid maternity leave for all ‘working’ women with a front-page editorial (it could never be mistaken for a news-story) written by two concerned sensitive femmes and, luckily for them, a supportive article by Pru Goward who is […]

Exporting health services: Bumrungrad

While I lived in Thailand in the 1980s I always appreciated the possibility of cheap local dental and health care. It was easy to find well-qualified, English-speaking dentists and doctors – an incidental bonus was that the nurses who looked after you were often extremely attractive. The cost of these services was a fraction (about […]

Debt crunch hits the UK too

UK consumers are even more indebted than those in the US according to this New York Times report. The story in the UK: In the past there has been plenty of debt available, rising house prices and an obsession with home ownership. Economic prosperity has meant caution has been thrown to the wind – spend […]

White flighting and the case for rethinking the migration & refugee program

Laurie Ferguson, parliamentary secretary for multicultural affairs, says that because Australian families are ‘white flighting’ – withdrawing their kids from public schools and placing them in church or private schools to avoid unsought impacts migrant communities on the schools – that more needs to be done to avoid children from places like Africa, who had […]

Garnaut on emissions trading

The carbon emissions trading scheme released yesterday (in full here, brief version here) by Professor Ross Garnaut is worthy of careful analysis. The Age has a useful brief report.

Garnaut argues the scheme should be developed before a comprehensive global agreement but the intensity of its operation should depend on the response of other countries. […]

Mr Rudd’s symbolism barely a start

I thought today’s editorial in The Australian was illuminating. The Rudd Government is inexperienced with an unskilled ministry (even Gillard has disappointed). Rudd however is an experienced showman – the type of confidence trickster who can play stupid political games with apparent conviction. I say ‘apparent’ because he doesn’t believe what he says and it […]

Oil prices again

I have posted several times on the future of oil prices. One notion is that the US recession might put a dent in them and that longer-term the price of oil will ease. This article in The Times suggests that is not true. A US recession might cause a temporary brief fall but – through […]

Super Hornet purchase to go ahead

I posted previously on the decision of the Howard Government to purchase the Super Hornet jet fighters. A Four Corners show (and some excellent posts by Robert Merkel at LP) convinced me that there were serious questions about these purchases as interim replacements for the F111’s. They seemed an expensive short-term option at $6.6 billion. […]

Petitioning the Chinese on Tibet

I just signed an urgent petition calling on the Chinese government to respect human rights in Tibet and engage in meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama. This is really important, and I hope you will join me by signing the petition here.

After nearly 50 years of Chinese rule, the Tibetans are sending out a […]

Eliot Spitzer had sex which he paid for

I am not surprised by the press’s treatment of Eliot Spitzer. US and to a less extent Australian popular culture is an uneasy mix of puritanism and excessive sexualisation of the ordinary. Bill Clinton was a good US President but came close to being toppled because of he took advantage of a sexual opportunity that […]

Could loss in faith in the US dollar cause a rout?

The Wall Street Journal think it might. The main concern is that unanchored inflationary expectations might cause a collapse in confidence in holding dollars. Quote:

‘The Fed needs to restore its monetary credibility, or today’s panic could become tomorrow’s crash’.

Farmers facing drought & climate change

A lot of my research efforts over the past year or so have been devoted to thinking about the implications of climate change for managing biodiversity. In part this reflects my ‘greenie’ orientation which I think is consistent with my general conservative political philosophy.

Gradually however I have come to see conservation issues as part […]

Real-world economics

The current real-world economics review is now available free online. There are a couple of provocative short papers I liked by Nobel Laureates Ken Arrow and Joe Stiglitz. The Arrow piece argues that controversy over choice of the discount rate does not bring into question the conclusions of the Stern Review – for discount rates […]