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A break from blogging

Apologies to readers for the recent lack of posting. I have been busy lately with preparations for forthcoming teaching and have been travelling. Hopefully things will normalise over the next week or so.

On Friday this week I am presenting a seminar on ‘Policies for Reducing the Costs of Cigarette Smoking in Australia’ (a much […]

Oil subsidies in emerging countries

A standard economic proposition is that poorer people generally have more price elastic demands for many goods.  When a good’s price rises it is those with constrained purchasing power who cut back their consumption most. Why then have oil demands not fallen in oil importing emerging and middle income countries when we know demands have […]

Eddi Reader

In terms of contemporary music I have to agree I am out-of-touch.  This is of course a disadvantage but pleasant surprises often present themselves as a consequence. The other night on ABC TV I saw a talented, female singer performing at The Basement in Sydney – Eddi Reader.  She is Scottish and that’s about all I know about her. The next day, selecting […]

Are excises on fuel too high?

This provocative post by Gary Becker argues that the low taxes on US petrol completely internalise the external costs of petrol consumption in terms of the global warming and foreign oil dependence externalities imposed on the US.  On this basis, Australian excises on petrol – much higher than US excises – would seem to be on […]

Climate change adaptation policies for the City of Melbourne

This interests me – a draft plan for adaptation to climate change in the City of Melbourne. As stewards of their local communities, local governments have a role in assessing and addressing the impacts of climate change.  Note I am interested in the fact that such a plan exists for our local community rather than […]

Mr Ali Allawi on Iraq

Former defense and finance minister in Iraq, Mr Ali Allawi, gave a valuable account of the current political situation in Iraq on last night’s Lateline.  According to Allawi the majority of parliamentarians – and probably most citizens*  – would quietly back Obama’s policy to withdraw troops from Iraq in 18 months.  At the same time the government feels […]

Let’s hear it for the ‘old’ guys

After 3 rounds Greg Norman is leading the field in the British Open at Royal Birkdale. At 53 years of age and without having played a lot of golf in recent years Norman has astonished the golfing world.  Good on him – regardless of what happens in the final round it is an amazing achievement. His marriage […]

Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme

This is my take on a ponderous, overly-long document. They were notes for a university class so if I’ve missed important points I’d appreciate being told.

According to the Green Paper we will have an emissions trading scheme (ETS) – a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) – by 2010 based on cap & trade. […]

A minimum price for booze

This is a cute microeconomics task.  From an group email sent to me by NCETA’s Dr Anne Roche:

‘The National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA) has been contracted by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing to conduct a feasibility study on setting a floor price for alcohol products. This study […]

Investing wisely in love

Love is scarce so invest in it wisely. That’s the message of this piece by Ben Stein in the New York Times.  I’d be interested in comments.   I guess don’t want to just be ‘something you invest in’ but do you organise your affections on the basis of cost-benefit analysis and the payback principle?

According to Stein […]

Fannie, Freddie & you

A joke in Washington these days goes like this: “What’s the difference between Enron and Fannie Mae? Answer: The guys at Enron have been convicted.”

(WSJ as part of a potted history)

The US will intervene to lend to Fannie May and Freddy Mac – by far the biggest home lenders in […]

Fortune magazine

Fortune is one of those magazines I subscribe to with mixed feelings. On the one hand it caters to some the worst aspects of US consumerism and an almost adolescent worship of wealth. But it also provides a gritty and useful view of the world of business from a business rather than economics perspective. It’s […]

Choose economics as your business specialisation

I have never recommended that any other than the least academically able business students* even consider enrolling in undergraduate degrees such as dedicated marketing and human resource management. The vast bulk of students are far better off studying a discipline like economics or finance provided, again, that the latter provides a solid background in basic […]

Financial markets & the world

These types of headlines amaze me:

‘The Australian dollar has open higher as the US dollar weakened on world political tensions after Iran test-fired 9 missiles overnight’.

Its an obvious point – my obvious point for the day – but we do live in one world.

Nelson nibbles away at a 2010 start on carbon trading

Brendan Nelson seeks to gain appeal by abandoning all principle. He has now reverted to the Howard position of not endorsing controls on carbon emissions before other large polluting countries (China, India, Russia) do so. Nelson warns of economic peril in ‘going ahead of the pack’. Nelson’s warning is simply opportunism.

As the Garnaut Review […]

Garnaut Review preliminaries

I have been reading the enormous Garnaut Climate Change Review (hereafter, Review) rather selectively – mainly in relation to forecast events in the Murray-Darling Basin. I’ll report on my investigations later and also comment on what to me are the guts of the Review’s work – it’s findings on designing an emissions trading scheme which […]

Birthday bash

Friend Jack R, is having his 60th birthday party soon – in Forestville, Sydney. I will be there but it seems the acceptances have been slow. This has got to be the YouTube of the decade.

Fuel price surrogates for congestion pricing

New York politics failed to agree to introduce congestion taxes to deal with traffic congestion. But higher fuel prices are delivering desired outcomes anyway. This is true in New York and, of course, in all major cities along the eastern seaboard of Australia. Fuel tax increases to deal with congestion are generally ill-advised because they […]

Sting: A bitter post

I have an unfortunate, rather negative approach to rock musicians like Sting. They have no obvious musical talents or intelligence and travel the world in their personal jets telling us all how to be environmentally friendly. It is accurate to describe them as hypocrites.

And look at Sting’s taste in women. Look at […]

Last words: Environmental tobacco smoke

‘Last twinges of a coffin posting this book where the awning flaps a distant thank-you’. (William S. Burroughs)

The US Surgeon General’s ‘Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoking’ is a massive 19MB document with a reasonably accessible Executive Summary. The evidence is mainly for the US but many arguments apply to Australia. It […]