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Elasticity & merchant-of-death ‘scream tests’ for assessing the new anti-smoking measures

Earlier I endorsed a NPHS proposal for a 17.5 cent per stick increase in tobacco taxes. The earlier report by the National Preventative Health Strategy is here. My computation was that between 122,000-245,000 of Australia’s 2.8 million smokers would quit on account of that proposal – this involved a 72% increase in tax from 24.3 […]

Taxing carcinogens

The loathesome cads of the Labor Party have done something good! A move to ‘plain packaging’ of legal carcinogens (cigarettes) is a welcome move as is the apparent intention to add an additional 35% excise on cigarette sales. The dummies who do smoke go for pale-coloured rather than (for example) bright red packaging because they […]

Rudd the twerp

I have long held Kevin Rudd in the lowest esteem possible both as a human being and as a politician. He talks a lot, has few ideas, is inept, has no conviction or values other than those of a power-hungry bureaucrat – he took most of his ideas from the Liberal Party going into the […]

Congratulations Andrew Leigh

I am not really that surprised that intelligent Labor Party members in middle class Canberra dumped on party hacks and went for someone with intelligence and personality. The seat of Fraser is a reasonably safe Labor seat so Andrew should be heading into politics. The only negative I can see is a loss for applied […]

Jim Manzi on Krugman/Weitzman & Pascal’s Wager

Manzi argues that Krugman and Weitzman get it wrong when they argue that the prospect of a fat-tailed probability distributions motivate urgent action to deal with climate change. He argues that the tails are not fat and that spending unbounded amounts to address arbitrarily small prospects of catastrophe is analogous to the fallacy involved in […]

Carl Williams

I was saddened by the death of Carl Williams. He was a murderer who probably killed more people than he was convicted for. When I look at the guy’s face he seems to be someone I might have enjoyed a beer with. I feel sorry for his family and friends. The crime wars in Melbourne […]

Abbott on unemployment

Tony Abbott’s proposal to withdraw unemployment benefits for those aged under 30 – it is only a thought by Abbott not Liberal Party policy – seems to be without much empirical support. The implicit theory seems to be that ‘surfie-bum’-types on Australia’s east coast are not accepting paid work in the Pilbara that they could […]

House prices in Oz

This article in The Economist argues that house prices around the world are over-valued and that Oz wins the prize for the greatest overvaluation – on their model by 56.1%. Hardly surprising since, on their estimates, house prices in Oz have increased by 197% from 1997-2010. I have split loyalties on this one – I […]

Recent papers on climate change

This excellent site collects them. I have a hell-of- a-lotta reading to do! I’ll add comments to the links below as I do.

Recent items:

Energy-Efficiency Program Evaluations: Opportunities for Learning and Inputs to Incentive Mechanisms Optimal Emission Pricing in the Presence of International Spillovers: Decomposing Leakage and Terms-of-Trade Motives Greenhouse Gas Regulation under the […]

Goldman Sachs operates a corrupt casino?

I had just finished reading this fascinating article on Goldman Sachs in Business Week “Don’t Blame Us” when news arrived that GS is, in fact, being prosecuted for securities fraud by the S.E.C. In 2009 GS made a profit of $13.9 billion. It amazed me that 78% of this came from trading – currencies, stocks, […]

Promoting public sector involvement in public economic debates

I am planning an editorial in the journal I edit that encourages more public sector participation in published, public economic discussions. I’d appreciate comments on the draft below.

As the Editor of Economic Papers: A Journal of Applied Economics and Applications I actively seek quality applied economics papers, particularly those with a policy orientation, that […]


From time-to-time I use the Mathematica software mainly for much lower level types of applications than it is designed for. This is quite expensive software – around $1400 – and involves a substantive learning effort to use. It is a grand hassle to install and upgrade as I have grizzled about in the past and […]

An instrument for improving the Chinese environment: transparency

“Transparency in China: Implications for the Environment and Climate Change” by Barbara Finamore of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) China Program outlines the use of transparency as an environmental policy in China. I assume the U.S. has particular interest in these issues given the stumbling block of verifiability at Copenhagen. The following summarizes […]

Pathetic response to the queue jumpers

Labor’s 3 month suspension on the processing of illegal migrants from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan is a belatedly, inept response to those who seek to ‘queue jump’ their way into Australia as humanitarian migrants. Illegal people smuggling has got out of control not because circumstances have worsened in the countries of emigration – push factors […]

Bush tucker books

I am interested in local indigenous foods.

Recently I bought the A.B and J.W. Cribb book Wild Food in Australia (1975) at a second-hand market for $7. This is mainly concerned with edible indigenous (and a few introduced) plants and it deals briefly with some local produce for carnivores. It’s a joy to read. While […]

Krugman on climate change

I am presenting classes to several sets of students on climate change economics over the next few weeks. I’ll certainly refer them to this excellent non-technical survey by Paul Krugman.

Malcolm Turnbull goes

I am disappointed that MT will exit politics but pleased that he is emphasising the issue of principle that is leading to his exit namely the grubby decision of Tony Abbott to reject an emissions trading scheme. Even if one disagrees with MT’s politics one can scarcely deny his restless, powerful intellect – he gave […]

Silly views on migration & population policy

Sinclair Davidson states at Catallaxy that the decision to appoint a “Minister for Population” amounts to a racist return to an exclusionary white Australia policy. What a foolish post – the claim that the need to set constraints on the level of immigration is ‘racist’ represents a new low for Catallaxy. Davidson quotes Ludwig von […]

Ladybug in flower

Thanks to Cool Green Science.