NZ’s financial position–but will it stay this way

The public balance sheet shines a light on both the assets that are available to a government but especially the risk and liabilities that have been built up.  This Policy Insight from ICAEW and Ross Campbell aims to help public officials understand what is in their Balance Sheets. The value of the information about different sorts of assets and liabilities and how some governments around the world are using it to support more effective policymaking. In particular to help government ask the right questions to make the most of their financial information, for example:

  • What assets do they have and are they getting....

A few facts are sometimes useful

Typically a dollar raised via tax needs to earn $1.21 to break even.

Thanks to Kiwiblog for this breakdown on the possibility of a royalty to be imposed on exports of bottled water:

Labour and NZ First coalition deal includes an agreement to impose a royalty on exports of bottled water.


Protectionism or Free Trade

Sunday’s Victoria drama where Queen V attempted to protect the local silk weavers reminded us of the futility such things and of the unintended consequences.  Posted recently on Home Paddock’s blog , this open letter to the French Parliament, originally published in 1845, also shows why this doesn’t work and the argument for free trade:


From the Manufacturers of Candles, Tapers, Lanterns, sticks, Street Lamps, Snuffers, and Extinguishers, and from Producers of Tallow, Oil, Resin, Alcohol, and Generally of Everything Connected with Lighting.

To the Honourable Members of the Chamber of Deputies.

Open letter to the French P....

Why Do Donuts Disappear at Faculty Meetings?

Think of the tragedy of the commons the next time you are tempted to take the last donut.

Anthony Gill

As a professor, I’ve attended many administrative meetings. The one near-constant thing I, and others, have noticed at these meetings is that the coffee always runs out, but at least a small remnant of a donut remains. Why this occurs tells a great deal about how we use social norms to solve pool resource problems common in economic life. And how those socia....

The Lessons of Fidget Spinners

Toy fads come and go and it seems Christmas doesn’t get a look-in anymore. A toy which was destined as an aid for children with a learning disorder becomes a fad before you know it. The lesson is in how quickly this can happen without regulation and with the help of social media.

YOU can spin it on your nose, chin, finger or tongue. Some include LED lights, others resemble a ship’s wheel, or even a skull and crossbones. The fidget spinner has three paddle-shaped blades attached to a central, weighted disc containing....

In Defence of the Dismal Science

Economists have received a bad rap in recent years, but their devotion to data still offers the most practical, bias-free way to assess our most pressing problems


By Greg Ip

Aug. 25, 2017

Earlier this month, a Greek court convicted an economist for what amounted to doing his job. In 2010, Andreas Georgiou took over Greece’s statistical agency and revised upward the figures for the country’s debt, which had long been suspect, in order to meet European Union standards. Ever s....

The Gender Pay Gap – getting to the real problem, not the bumper sticker

The Economist 23 August 2017

Are women really paid much less than men for the same work, as is often claimed? Figures from 25 rich and middle-income countries gathered by Korn Ferry, a consultancy, show that women make 98 cents for each dollar earned by men employed at the same organisation, level and job function. Overall, women earn on average 79% of what men do, but this gap can be almost entirely explained by the fact that men are more likely to do highly paid jobs—not because they are paid more than women doing the same work. In Britain, France and Germany, for example, around 80-90% of executive jobs, and less than two-thirds of clerical ....

Missing Report–Building Trust for Life Beyond Work

Income after work: comment on the “Missing Report” paper Chamberlain and Littlewood July 2017. This paper raises significant analytical questions about a topic that is too often and dangerously treated as a short term political play thing to grab votes. Here are some comments:

Michael Chamberlain and Michael Littlewood’s report The Missing 2016 Review: building trust for life beyond work provides welcome if demanding scrutiny of what is loosely termed retirement policy in NZ. Welcome because they probe issues which are all too frequently dismissed summarily with a shrug of the political shoulder. Demanding because in this area the ....

Serendipity in science

A chance finding may lead to a treatment for multiple sclerosis

It has to do with sunscreen

EXPERIMENTS that go according to plan can be useful. But the biggest scientific advances often emerge from those that do not. Such is the case with a study just reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. When they began it, Hector DeLuca of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and his colleagues had been intending to examine the effects of ultraviolet (UV) light on mice sufferi....

Blockchain the Transformer

Do yourself a favour and read this to “get it” about blockchain and why it matters… or try to make time stand still.

This from Kevin Cooney – ASB’s National Manager Rural:

It’s vital that New Zealand’s agri industry pays close attention to blockchain development and ensures we are well positioned to capture our share of new value this technology could unlock.

Mention blockchain and agriculture in the same breath, and the image of a heavy duty chain towing one farm vehicle behind another pops into my mind.

Turns out, that’s a handy analogy. Like a physical chain, blockchain connects parties directly with one ....

Males and Females–the differences in the way our brains are wired

This post by Priceonomics shows just how differently males and females think – the differences in their internet searches and popular websites is staggering. Interesting too to see where millennials go for their information and entertainment.

Data source: Quantcast

The number one website with the most female traffic is Zulily, an ecommerce site selling clothing, toys, and home products at deep discounts. Women also made up the majority of traffic at ....

A Key White House Post which remains unfilled

FIRST PET – It may be time for Donald Trump to find a four-legged friend

DONALD TRUMP has broken the mould of the American presidency in almost every major category. He is the country’s oldest commander-in-chief, its richest and the only one in history without any governmental or military experience. He is one of just two presidents since 1888 to win an election without winning the popular vote. And last but not least, he is the first president without a pet in near....

The Business of Tax

ONE of the hottest debates in economic policy at the moment is how to ensure companies are paying the optimal amount of tax. On the right, politicians think that a lower corporate-tax rate will lead to more business investment and thus faster economic growth. Hence the initial stockmarket enthusiasm after President Donald Trump was elected on a platform that included cuts in business taxes. On the left, the belief is that business is not paying its “fair share” of tax and that it can be further squeezed to pay for spending commitments. Hence the promise of the Labour Party in Britain’s recent election campaign to push the corporate-tax rate up to 26% (from 19%).

How do these theorie....

A thought for today

This quote from Deirdre McCloskey makes very good sense:

“That businesspeople buy low and sell high in a particularly alert and advantageous way does not make them bad unless all trading is bad, unless when you yourself shop prudently you are bad, unless any tall poppy needs to be cut down, unless we wish to run our ethical lives on the sin of envy.”
Deirdre N. McCloskey

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Margarine sales: investors can’t believe they’re not better

Demand for natural fats is rising

THE debate over fats is larded with controversy. For years doctors argued that they should be expunged from diets entirely. Saturated fats, they reckoned, were especially harmful. As a result, consumers increasingly turned to margarine and demand for butter melted away. The vegetable-based spread remained dominant for decades. But two trends have since eaten away at its market share.

First, the crusade against fats is waning. Nowadays, doctors are much more sanguine about eating fat in general. Instead they have set their si....