In a forthcoming article (downloadable here) in Research Policy (according to the 2013 ranking of the Australian Business Deans Council an A*journal), Sarah Necker of the University of Freiburg, Germany, reports the results of a study on fraudulent and questionable research practices in economics.  The study is based on survey data, so it automatically…(Read More)

This week the Australian government announced what seems to be an extraordinary piece of legislation. Spies who leak sensitive information will face tough new penalties of up to 10 years’ jail and internet firms could be forced to store customers’ data for up to two years under sweeping national security reforms. Prompted in part by…(Read More)

I have to admit that it saddens me that we are in 2014 and still need to lobby Australian politicians for something so blindingly obvious than a price on carbon but here we are. Coordinated by the World Wildlife Federation, today a letter signed by 59 economists (including myself) has been released. The text is…(Read More)

There are some of you who have subscribed to posts from this blog via email. The service used is a paid one (Feedblitz) but these days there are actually free ones that are the same, if not better. Consequently, I am going to discontinue that service. If you want to keep subscribing, please enter your…(Read More)

Bitcoin is perhaps the greatest innovations in economic design. I’m glad to see that despite the early predictions by many economists the currency is yet to die.  The value of Bitcoin has hovered around $550-$650 (USD) for a while and I remain confident that its value will stay close to the present marginal…(Read More)

Successive Australian governments have rested on their laurels regarding reforming health insurance. However, Stephen King and I have always maintained that there was more to be done to ensure welfare gains at the margin. This is why we re-released our book, Finishing the Job, this year ($1 at Amazon and free on iBooks). Our…(Read More)

I came across an article in PNAS (the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) with the catchy title ‘Female Hurricanes are deadlier than male hurricanes’. It is doing the rounds in the international media, with the explicit conclusion that our society suffers from gender bias because it does not sufficiently urge precautions when a…(Read More)

With Rohan Pitchford. Following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, the Australian government may have quietly bailed out an investment bank or two. It did so by transferring bank risk to itself. For example, in  early 2009 Macquarie Bank was allowed to sell US dollar denominated commercial bonds that are guaranteed by the Australian…(Read More)

A couple of weeks ago (April 26) Seth Roberts died; he collapsed near his home in California. He was a Professor of Psychology at Tsinghua University in Beijing and Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of California at Berkeley. He was also the author of bestselling book The Shangri-La Diet.  His diet seems…(Read More)

The Australian government education minister Christopher Pyne has made his wishes clear for the tertiary education sector: he is following the wishes of the GO8 Vice-Chancellors and wants to remove the caps from the HECS fees asked of domestic students. This seems to fit in a vision of greater competition for the sector, and…(Read More)

I’ve been making a few claims regarding the fact that we really don’t understand what to expect from the proposed changes to HECS. I had a couple of people in my office today, chalk-in-hand, trying to explain some of the distortions that we may expect. Here is a simple example. Consider…(Read More)

With Rohan Pitchford. The proposed change to HECS made in the recent budget doesn’t seem to have been well thought out. It is likely that there will be extensive deliberations, perhaps an enquiry, before major changes to HECS are implemented. In this post we propose that in any future HECS type of deferred payment…(Read More)

The French economists Thomas Piketty recently published a long-prepared book on the growth of inequality in the Western World over the last few centuries. His main contention, as I see it, is that wealth inequality is rising rapidly again and that we are returning to 19th century levels of inherited inequality, complete with ‘upper…(Read More)

The education of young adults is a task of a democratic society.  Here I will propose the notion of a core university, which is an economic institution that I think is resilient and that nurtures a resilient full education. The core university is a university engaged in the narrow business of education in which it…(Read More)

I previously commented on the batch of submissions (all 16 of them) that were available during the weekend following the May 2, 2014 deadline for submissions. In the following week, 132 submissions were added for a total of 148 (one being a duplicate entry it seems: 16, 146). I have read through about two thirds…(Read More)

Can a kind colleague explain to me why the leading Australian universities will not increase fees for local students (HECS debts)  above fees charged for international students? After all, even if market interest rates are charged on HECS debt, HECS remains a cheaper debt than a regular bank debt (you don’t go broke with…(Read More)

Whatever you might think about it, good or bad, there is ample evidence that, in countries all around the world, the rich are getting richer. Best-selling economist, Thomas Piketty, has confirmed it using a wealth of data, alongside an admittedly more controversial opinion that it will continue. But ultimately, whatever the concerns about wealth…(Read More)

My own university, the University of Queensland, has around 6 flagship courses that it puts online for free, in a deal that involves universities from around the world who put up the courses that they excel in. It typifies the current reality of online courses: it is free; it is relatively high-quality; and almost…(Read More)

I have previously, on these pages, commented on developments and issues concerning the regulatory framework for what some people call the third sector and others call the not-for-profit sector (see here and here and here and here). Most recently, and in light of the Abbott Government’s resolve to abort the Australian Charities…(Read More)

I put my name this week to a letter organised by the WWF on airline emissions. Basically, while, in general, I am in favour of markets that allow meaningful offsets of emissions I am concerned that, in this instance, they do not appropriately offset the emissions generated (as evidenced by the very low costs associated…(Read More)

The website of the Economics Student Society of Australia, a grassroots society founded two years ago by students in Melbourne, is worth a look – and not only because I am writing a series of blogs for them this year, of which links to the first two are given below.  The aim of this series…(Read More)

From what I can gather, Australian politicians and the media are gearing up for some good old hysteria with regard to cyberbullying. And as part of the process is a recourse to regulation of social media sites to apparently deal with the problem. For that reason, I thought I’d link to some reminders of…(Read More)

Vanavil is a school for the poorest of the poor in the middle of Tamil Nadu, India. It started in 2005 as an orphanage/school for the children of two historically nomadic communities left stranded by the devastating tsunami of 2004. Many of the children of these two communities (the Narikuravar and Boom Boom Mattukarar…(Read More)

While most of the world think that Flappy Bird is fairly useless and without redeeming value, some think there is opportunity. Folks, thanks to my son, I bring you Flappy Economist. In it you control the money supply but you have to balance between the economy going between disastrous unemployment or rampant inflation. Of course…(Read More)

Ten years ago Stephen King and I wrote a book called Finishing the Job. It was published by Melbourne University Press who timed it to coincide with just missing a Federal election and another book of theirs also dealing with economic policy. Consequently, it did not get the interest we had hoped for. We continued…(Read More)

On Australia Day this year I was privileged to discuss the very idea of Australia Day with Professor Bruce Bradlap of the University of Wongollong Philosophy Department, over a few ice cold king browns, at his home in the RSL caravan park at Legend Beach.  Here is an extract of the conversation. Sam:  Why has…(Read More)