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., http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/feb/27/university-suppressed-study-into-racism-on-buses-and…(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)

Middle-East watchers have been surprised by the events in Syria and Egypt the last 2 years. The betting markets in 2011 and 2012 expected the collapse of the Syrian regime, but it didn’t happen. The West and most Al-Jazeera commentators thought the coup that deposed the Morsi-government was unsustainable and that…(Read More)

In a recent working paper which has received considerable play on social and other media (and is allegedly forthcoming in The Journal of Economic Perspectives next year), a sociologist called Marion Fourcade and two French economists (Algan, Ollion, the former a research fellow at the CNRS of the University of Strasbourg, the latter a prof…(Read More)

Geo-engineering is increasingly looking like the only politically viable way of averting temperature rises above 2 degrees in the coming century. This is for three interlocking reasons: i) Any mayor country can try geo-engineering on its own without permission from anyone else, meaning one does not need a world coalition sustained for centuries…(Read More)

Remembering Whitlam


Gough Whitlam was the first prime minister I was aware of. Actually, I recalled yesterday that I had seen every Australian Prime Minister since (up until the current one) in the flesh. What other country is that possible? I saw Whitlam for the first time, in the flesh as it were, when I was 5…(Read More)

The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2014 has gone to Jean Tirole, the superstar of the game theory revolution in industrial organization and corporate finance, “for his analysis of market power and regulation”. Says the official one- line prize motivation. Tirole, albeit young by historic standards – with age 61…(Read More)

Economics is an intellectually challenging and  socially relevant area of study. According to the Hamilton project studying economics gives you a better shot at striking it rich. Here are some nice figures that illustrate the point: Updated: These are cumulative distributions. Notice that economics first-order stochastically dominates almost all other majors, and second-order…(Read More)

Today the people residing in Scotland can decide whether they want to see an independent Scotland or to have Scotland remain in the UK. The betting markets concur with the opinion polls and favour the status quo: the markets give roughly 20% chance that the ‘yes’ vote will win and that Scotland will become independent…(Read More)

As economists, it’s easy to for us to argue that our models account more than those of any other social science for the fundamental importance of need satisfaction in creating healthy societies. The pursuit of his own need satisfaction is at the heart of our model of the individual economic agent; when the economy…(Read More)

Take note Australia


One of the more shameful acts of recent years was the failure of successive Australian governments to put in place marriage equality. Now it looks like the United States will get there first.To underscore this I command Judge Posner’s decision the other day striking down the Wisconsin and Indiana bans on…(Read More)

Kwanghui Lim posted a link to this post from Cloudfare on what they pay for transit around the world. As you will see from this table, Australia is the most expensive region — by a long, long way.And the reason:Australia is the most expensive region in which we operate, but for an…(Read More)

After slamming the last Government for not doing a cost-benefit analysis on the NBN, Malcolm Turnbull has produced the goods. My view on cost-benefit analysis remains unchanged: if you have already decided what to do, a cost-benefit analysis is of no help except for vindication.Nonetheless, there is another unintended consequence of…(Read More)

Last week I did an interview with Phil Dobbie for CommsDay on the ACCC’s approach to the setting of rates that carriers pay each other to terminate calls. I argued — as I did 15 years ago — that marginal cost rather than Total Service Long-Run Incremental Cost makes more sense and will generate more…(Read More)