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The events sweeping through the Middle East are unexpected. The Egyptian economy is not all bad – it has been growing at 5-7% over recent years and per capita incomes are around $6200 which is not too bad for a country of 80 million that exists on a pathetically narrow stretch of fertile land along […]

Loathsome research bureaucracy

In the 30 years I have worked in the universities I have never taken any research direction advice from a university bureaucrat. I am an absolute contrarian in terms of modern university ‘research management’. I don’t criticise the people involved in administering such endeavors – they are for the most part responding to government decrees […]

Email externalities

It costs nothing to send an email beyond the cost of composing it – the latter is low when a message is simply a copy of something received or simply something forwarded to everyone on a group email list. However receiving hundreds of emails each day on topics that have no relevance to those receiving […]

Natural disasters & moral hazard

The suffering caused by the flooding in Queensland and elsewhere cannot be understated. Those who raise issues of moral hazard in the current setting run the risk of being accused of callousness. I’ll run that risk. The rush of government pledges to help those who had not insured their properties against flood damage seems to […]

Smart dumb investing

For decades I have been arguing against the worthless fee-based advice of the activist investment industry and argued instead that Aussies without a lot of financial market expertise should, in the main, invest in close to no-load mutual funds such as Argo Investments, Australian Foundation Investment Company and Milton Corporation. Management fees are close to […]

Chinese mothers & Aussie women

I have posted before on the relative success that Asian kids have in Western education systems. Amy Chua has written a strident defense of the role of Chinese mothers in using discipline to bring out the best in their children. I am sympathetic. Westerners do undervalue the abilities of their kids and apologize for childish […]

Chinese visitors to Australia

A major source of tourism in Australia is now from mainland China. Last year more Chinese visited Australia than Americans. Moreover they stay longer and spend much more than other groups such as Japanese – in 2009 Chinese visitors contributed $7287 to the economy compared with $3420 from the Japanese. The average Chinese visitor stayed […]

Returning from China

My 4.5 month visit to China is complete and I return to Australia tomorrow. Its been an amazing experience teaching at BEDA (Peking University) and teaching the sort of environmental economics I have always wanted to teach to the best students one could imagine. People here ask me if I am sad to leave and […]

Viruses & a move to MAC

I have had two serious computer virus infections over the past year. Both arose when I allowed a USB that I had used to make a Powerpoint presentation at a university seminar to have unprotected intercourse with my laptop. The viruses were transmitted despite prophylactic protection in the form of anti-virus software. I have […]

Flooded farmers demand more from fellow citizens

Flooded farmers in WA who have received $15,000 from the Federal Government and $150,000 in interest free loans say they are getting “bugger all” – they are outraged because they believe flooded Queenslanders are getting $25,000.

The art of community politicking in Australia? Scream loudly until you get a handout from other citizens. The farmers […]

Gerry Harvey & Solomon Lew digging their graves

The move to force GST on internet purchases of less than $1000 from overseas suppliers has been led by Solomon Lew and Gerry Harvey. It is motivated by their ‘principles’ – that goods purchased overseas by Australian residents on the internet should be subject to the same GST impost as locally-supplied goods. The equity argument […]

Aussi sharemarket in 2011

Its that time of year when so-called stock market experts tip the course of the All Ordinaries Index over the coming year. Its also the time when cynics routinely (but quite fairly) deride the value of such predictions. Self interest motivates me to take a highly conditional attempt to work out what will happen.

If […]

Yao Ming on ‘finning’

I was delighted to see an advertisement on CCTV Beijing where a legendary Chinese basket baller, the 7 foot 6 inch, Yao Min, rejects a plate of shark’s fin soup. In fact, as I later found out, he has been pursuing a campaign against the appalling practice of ‘finning’ (removal of a shark’s fin and […]