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Foolish Labor policy on natural gas

The Labor Party propose restricting natural gas exports from Australia to ensure greater availability (and lower prices) for domestic gas supplies. This is a poorly thought through policy proposal.

The basic economics of international trade suggest we will export goods we can produce more cheaply than those produced in our export markets. Therefore, when we […]

Chinese tariffs on coal there & gone

An interesting feature of the proposed Australia China free trade agreement is that so little is at stake. Most of Australia’s exports to China and most of China’s exports to Australia are tariff free. The catch is the restriction on Chinese purchases of Australian housing and land and Chinese foreign investments generally which are subject […]

Books to remain expensive

My guess that the Government would buckle under local interest group pressure to reject the parallel import of books has proven correct. Mark at LP is pleased to learn that the moves to allow free trade in books suggested by the Productivity Commission have been stopped by the Rudd Government. In fact he asks why […]

Creeping socialism in America?

I don’t agree with the gist of the message here – the US need a more inclusive healthcare system, probably need more public spending on education and the globe certainly needs US GGE controls to bring about an effective international agreement. But I enjoyed this cartoon that sums up the conservative view of Obamaism.  The right’s paranoia […]

Barack Obama’s speech to Congress

I heard the economist Professor Ed Leamer’s rapturous appreciation of the Obama speech (& here, here, here, here) (on the 7-30 Report) before I saw the speech myself.  But this is an inspiring speech on a par with anything by J.F. Kennedy.  Obama sees the need for a stimulus and the need for offsetting the debt implications of […]

Sri Lanka & the defeat of the LTT?

My colleague Prof Sisira Jayasuriya made some sensible and balanced remarks on the current disasterous situation facing the Tamils in Sri Lanka in this YouTube. The LTT currently face a significant defeat but, according to Sisira, will stage a recovery – the civil war will not end. In the meantime hundreds of civilians have died […]

Barack Obama’s presidential acceptance speech

Gracious and serious this is a speech worth listening to. There is much sense amid the rhetoric and Obama is – as everyone now knows – a talented man of enormous charisma. But as I stressed a few days ago the difficulties facing the US and hence Obama are immense*. The positive changes will […]

Optimism & the Obama Presidency

Barack Obama will become the 44th President of the United States tomorrow.  Despite the exceedingly tough economic times Americans overwhelmingly see Obama as something positive for America.

‘a New York Times poll found 79% think Barack Obama will improve the nation – a level of support that is higher than for any incoming president in […]


The middle class radicals who have forced the end to democratically-elected governments* in Thailand have not done Thailand any long-term favours.  Recent events in fact constitute a middle-class coup that has driven a popularly elected government from office.  That is true even if the government was not entirely saintly.

When I lived in Thailand 20 years ago […]

Barack Obama the great black hope

I said that Barack Obama would be the US President when it was unpopular to say so.  This video interview with CBS confirms my belief that Obama may well be a great US President. Apart from letting his necktie dangle a bit this interview suggests that real inspiration lies in this man.  It is a big ask […]

China impressions

I have had a fascinating and enjoyable visit to China. I spent a month here in 1988 but, Beijing at least, is an entirely new city now. I am sometimes not a great supporter of Chinese policies but, to their credit, the achievement of the Chinese authorities in constructing the new Beijing is in many […]

Obama supports conscription

Gregory Mankiw points out that Barack Obama supports the conscription of youth into community service. I wonder how many aged lefties will now dump on Obama on the basis of past Vietnam Moratorium ideals. Well of course its not this aged lot who now face the prospect of being conscripted so that a certain amount of […]

Obama to be president

I forecast that Barack Obama would be the next US President when it was unpopular to do so.  Of course given the polls I am happy to retain this forecast as evidence of my luck or prowess now. I think Obama is something of a populist visionary/demagogue, has loose ideas on tax and tariffs and defeatist attitudes […]

More on the economic crisis

I have been heavily involved in other things and too busy to make a comprehensive update on the crisis. My last long post on it took a lot of time to write – I presented some of the material at a La Trobe University seminar organised by the SRC and the radical group Socialist Alternative.


George Soros on free market fundamentalism

This is an amazing interview with Soros.  A fan of markets he nevertheless sees deregulated financial markets as delivering a biased reflection of reality that generates booms, busts and bubbles.  The reason – too much credit, too much leveraging.  Free market fundamentalism is just as misguided an ideology as socialism.

Soros sees the current […]

Obama supporter by default

I find it hard to support war hero John McCain and his dud Vice Presidential candidate Palin.  But Obama is no shining angel either. 100 prominent US economists get stuck into Obama’s policies on tax and trade (a longer list is here):

‘Barack Obama argues that his proposals to raise tax rates and halt international trade […]

Nationalising banks or boosting their liquidity & restoring trust

John Quiggin seems enthusiastic about the prospects for more ‘utopian’ society with government-controlled major banks.  As much as I am deeply concerned with the very recent claims of imminent global financial peril I do not share his enthusiasm for this at all. Governments might well wish shore up the capital base of large banks in Europe or […]

Economists opposed to the Paulson plan

Some big names in finance and economics here. Hat tip to Gregory Mankiw whose posts I am grabbing a lot lately. The last signatory on the list of eminents is Luigi Zingales who has a fascinating article in The Economist’s Voice, Why Paulson is Wrong, which suggests how the crisis should be handled. I excerpt […]

China as leader in the global financial crisis

Peter Drysdale over at East Asia Forum exposits claims by historian Harold James that only action by China can rescue the global economy from US financial ineptitude.  Indeed, to James, China is the US of the 1920s and 1930s.  China should become the anchor of the modern international financial system.

 James’ argument:

‘China is today’s America…When the 1920s […]

Thoughts on the US economy

The US Government debt will rise to $11.3 trillion with the proposed $700 billion bailout of troubled mortgages now before Congress. That amounts to $37,098 of public debt per citizen.  To say the US financial system is stressed is to understate the issue.  The question is whether foreigners will come to demand higher interest rates on […]