As the old adage has it before it gets better it will get worse. I have previously written about the deepening sense of crisis in economics and psychology (e.g. in The Conversation and in Core Economics Today – here and here and here) Three interesting recent exhibits The last couple of weeks we have seen…(Read More)

Ignore facts. Facts are pesky and quaint. They constrain your narrative and might constrain oh my your priors. And they might even make it necessary that you provide links. Which might actually be checked. So don’t go there. If someone brings them (pesky and quaint facts) up either ignore them and their facts or…(Read More)

Attention has recently been drawn yet again to the spectre of falling skills standards in Australia. This time several commentators from inside and outside academia have picked up on a newly-released report by the Australian Industry group claiming that employers are loudly complaining about their workers’ literacy and numeracy skills. The AIG report contains…(Read More)

Warning: This is mostly a personal travelogue with some generalizations and conjectures thrown in for good measure. A colleague of mine was so kind to comment on a draft and nonchalantly suggested that the title of the piece ought to be “Clueless Westerner hops off a plane and makes many random observations”. So there I…(Read More)

Apple Pay is near ubiquitous in the US despite the relative lack of terminals to support them. But in Australia those terminals are all over the place yet the only card accepted on Apple Pay is American Express; a card not issued by the major banks. Why? For those who don’t know Apple Pay…(Read More)

I have been back in Australia this past week for the first time in over three years. Here are some brief impressions: The airports are great. Even better than before Security is no issue (I passed through in 30 seconds) and Canberra airport is now fantastic — world class as they say. Why airline lounges…(Read More)


An issue that has perplexed me over the last few weeks is why do the top universities in Australia continue teaching Australian undergraduates when the fees they get from these undergraduates are far lower than foreign fees. Further there is no doubt in my mind that given the intense competition for hugely expensive research prestige…(Read More)


For those of us outside the US the Trump entry into the US Presidential race so many months out from the actual election has been entertainment heaven. Sure he is destroying the fabric of a great nation by bring horrific stereotypes and misinformation to the fore but sometimes that is the price to pay for…(Read More)

The deal yesterday morning between the Greek PM and the Eurozone Finance ministers is an agreement to reform before talks. By tomorrow evening the Greek parliament has to accept 4 pieces of legislation on a large range of issues (pensions labour markets taxation) after which the other 19 Eurozone countries will start negotiations on another…(Read More)

The Greek referendum and the hype leading up to it have gone exactly according to my script of 8 days ago where I predicted a resounding ‘no’ vote and a Grexit to stop the bank-run with the other European politicians too offended and belittled by Tsipras and Varoufakis to organise another bailout. The Grexit…(Read More)

Greece owes the IMF 1.6 billion euro that it doesn’t have but is supposed to pay tomorrow. Unless the ECB lends it to the Greeks effectively converting the IMF debt into an ECB debt Greece is bankrupt tomorrow. In months to come much bigger debt repayments are scheduled to the ECB-IMF in…(Read More)

Mutual funds

The traditional textbook model of competition in an oligopoly goes likes this. Firms choose prices and other variables (like product quality advertising and R&D) to maximise their own profits and disregard the impact of their actions on (a) competing firms and (b) consumers; although with the latter since they want them to buy…(Read More)

Over the last 15-20 years academic school meetings have gone from rambling and unstructured brawls to dull “executive infomercials”. The former led to marathon meetings. The current model has led to a middle-management culture that often does not take advantage of the very valuable specialists skills of talented highly trained (and experienced) scholars…(Read More)

Education Minister Christopher Pyne is concerned that some universities are educating students who do not repay their HECS debt: Universities churning out graduates who do not repay their student debts would face financial penalties under a proposal by Education Minister Christopher Pyne aimed at securing Senate support for fee deregulation. This kind of punishment mechanism…(Read More)

Those following the exploding story about Paul Frijters’ research on racism and UQ’s subsequent reaction to it might wonder as I did: what exactly is in the “public interest disclosure” referred to in media reports (e.g.…(Read More)

Criminal researchers?


Joshua Gans asked yesterday whether UQ suppressed the Mujcic/Frijters working paper on racism. In the comments to that piece the possibility has been raised implicitly that the paper might have been suppressed because its authors employed unethical or illegal tactics in conducting their research. Two main concerns are raised. Let’s take them in…(Read More)

I am glad this has been finally made public: Academic who revealed Australian bus driver racism ‘victimised’ It has been a source of great concern for me because I care about the University of Queensland. It has been a source of great personal embarrassment because that was the place where I did both my undergraduate…(Read More)

Possibly and so I am putting the question out there in the hopes a journalist might investigate. But first some context. In 2013 Redzo Mujcic and Paul Frijters (a frequent blogger here) published a study demonstrating unconscious discrimination on the part of bus drivers in Brisbane. Today Ian Ayres took to the New York Times…(Read More)

[this was first posted on Clubtroppo 9 days ago. Since everything went to script after that the text below is unchanged] After two weeks of a new government in Greece a Greek exit from the Euro (termed a ‘Grexit’) looks more and more likely. The betting markets give it about 30% to happen this year…(Read More)

It’s pretty obvious what’s going to happen this coming Tuesday. Or maybe already in a couple of hours. That is if there is some rational decision making going on and the key people have thought through the whole game tree endgames included. Abbott has done himself in irreversibly starting with his ill-advised…(Read More)

The spate of `Islamist’ violence recently perpetrated by individual people is a puzzle for mainstream economics. In the world of rational agents intent on maximizing their wealth the destruction of human or material resources is only sensible when that destruction provides a direct competitive advantage. Why then would Homo Economicus walk into an office market…(Read More)

A couple of days before Christmas 2014 Environment Minister Greg Hunt – he who rather consults Wikipedia than rely on the considerable in-house expertise at his fingertips – published data that seemed to show that  during the second year of its existence the carbon price (often falsely called a “tax”) was more successful than the first…(Read More)

It’s the time of the mid-year Economic Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) and we’re told that we’re about 11 billion deeper in the red this financial year than we thought with the treasurer blaming the dropping iron price and the reduced wage growth. I have gone over the MYEFO documents (which are an…(Read More)