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Road pricing yet again, & again & again….

The Harper Competition Review has again raised the case for road pricing. It is frustrating to me that after 20 years of working in this area many economists don’t get the economic basis for road pricing right. The article in The Australian today is a case in point. Roads are not priced for user pays […]

Taxing foreign buyers of Australian housing

This measure – discussed in today’s AFR – is (apart from its cost-recovery role*) is effectively an export tax on housing. As such it will diminish the gains from international trade in Australian property markets. It will however (in accord with the standard theory of export taxes) reduce the price of property to Australian consumers. […]

Near irrelevance of university lectures

Lectures at my university almost by obligation need to be presented in Powerpoint format* and almost all are aurally recorded. In a few cases a video is taken and that distinction seems to be the fairly arbitrary dividing line used by administrators in classifying courses as being presented in “face-to-face” format or “online”. In fact […]

Real estate agents providing financial advice

A snippet that interests me. The Ray White Group (one of Australia’s largest real estate brokers) is to move into the financial planning industry. They earn commissions on real estate transactions and I assume they will earn commissions on the advice they give. They seek ASIC approval and expect to get it. My devious, perverted, […]

An economist views asylum seeker policies

Deriving sound asylum seeker policies is partly a moral issue. It is also a concern that analytical disciplines like economics can throw light on. I have been asked to provide views on asylum seeker policies as an economist. The views below are preliminary and I welcome polite comment. What I want to […]

Retirement finances

I have been reading my favourite work on investment – the most recent edition (2011) of Burton Malkiel’s “A Random Walk Down Wall Street” – for some advice on managing wealth in retirement. I first read Malkiel in the mid-1970s and find him to be a perceptive and balanced advisor on investment strategies. These issues […]

Good monetary policy

There are competing claims about the current stance of Australian monetary policy and attempts by the Reserve Bank to balance the desire for a lower Australian dollar by lowering interest rates against the problems that would be created by creating an asset price bubble. Ross Garnaut suggests lowering interest rates still further and dealing with […]

Where is the economics?

I attended some economics honours student presentations on Friday and what was noticeable in most of the studies was a lack of any economic theory. Yes there was usually a data base and, yes, statistical techniques were applied to that data base (along with (occasionally) some quasi-theoretical reasoning about what might or might not be […]