Final Bryce Wilkinson

Dr Bryce Wilkinson

Senior Fellow

Bryce is a Senior Fellow at The New Zealand Initiative, and also the Director of the Wellington-based economic consultancy firm Capital Economics. Prior to setting this up in 1997 he was a Director of, and shareholder in, First NZ Capital. Before moving into investment banking in 1985, he worked in the New Zealand Treasury, reaching the position of Director. Bryce holds a PhD in economics from the University of Canterbury and was a Harkness Fellow at Harvard University. He is a Fellow of the Law and Economics Association of New Zealand.

Bryce is available for comment on fiscal issues, our poverty, inequality and welfare research. He also has a strong background in public policy analysis including monetary policy, capital markets research and microeconomic advisory work.

Latest reports:
The Inequality Paradox: Why inequality Matters Even Though it has Barely Changed (2016)
Poorly Understood: The State of Poverty in New Zealand (2016)
Reducing Unnecessary Regulatory Costs (2015)
A Matter of Balance: Regulating Safety (2015)
Investing for success: Social Impact Bonds and the future of public services (2015)

Phone: +64 4 472 5986


Recent Work


Social Investment and wellbeing under Labour

New Zealanders do not have a welfare system we can be proud of.Wellbeing research shows that involuntary unemployment is the pits for wellbeing. Think how sapping it would be to your sense of self worth to search fruitlessly for employment for a year or more. You could easily decide your community thinks you are worthless.  Yet in June this year, over 67,000 New Zealanders had been on the Jobseekers Benefit for at least a year. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Insights Newsletter
17 November, 2017

How not to save lives

In the DC comic story, a flying Superman spies Lois Lane tied across a railroad line. A fast-moving passenger train is but metres away. Superman swoops down. With a single out-stretched arm he stops the iron monster dead in its tracks. He has saved Lois. What else could matter? Well, the comic book did not do a cost-benefit assessment. But the plausible tally is one life saved and hundreds killed or injured in the concertinaed train. Enter WorkSafe NZ. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
The National Business Review
20 October, 2017

A shoddy tale of irresponsible regulation

A NZIER report released this week discredits a WorkSafe NZ safety programme that started in November 2011.  The programme aims to reduce workplace falls from heights of below 3 metres.   We all agree that safety is important. So is cost. Anyone who cares about safety has to care about the cost of achieving it. Otherwise they fail to spend where the safety gains are greatest.   The cost increases are material. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Insights Newsletter
20 October, 2017

Proper process for Labour's Working Group on Tax Policy

In 1936 the much-quoted US journalist HL Mencken wrote“government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods”. So here we are in 2017, preparing to vote in yet another government spending auction of someone else’s money. But whose money is it to be? Probably all the major parties chant in unison at this point: “Not yours, dear voter; of course not.” Then whose? Well, Labour seems to have the most... Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Insights Newsletter
8 September, 2017

Economically Speaking: It's about greater productivity - Stupid

Imagine if no one had to pay for anything. Wouldn’t that be nice?Imagine if everything were free. Free food, housing, health care, education, transport, television, broad band, you name it.Imagine if government gave everyone enough money to live on, and then topped it up a bit so we could have some fun. No strings attached.OK, OK, John Lennon’s haunting and utopian song went over the top. It imagined a world with no possessions, just one big commune of sharing. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
National Business Review
1 September, 2017
economy newspaper1

Embarrassingly-bad economics from The Economist

Are Aesop’s fables, such as “The Ant and the Grasshopper” still taught to school children? When winter arrives the industrious and thrifty ant refuses to share its food with the hungry grasshopper who had frivolously spent the summer singing. When I was of primary school age, there was no doubt that virtue lay with the ant. Survival required diligent work, foresight and prudent saving. The grasshopper’s plight made the point. Later at university, I encountered Paul Samuleson’s introductory textbook on economics. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Insights Newsletter
28 July, 2017
blue piggy on the grass 1

Election year Budgets, illusions and conjuring tricks

On television early yesterday evening I saw a well-known presenter give Budget 2017 an 8 out of 10 for massaging the electorate. A subtitle read “something for everyone”. Really? Can shuffling the same deck of cards improve everyone’s hand? That would be a conjuring trick. Election year Budgets are first and foremost about taking and spending voters’ money. They don’t create more money. They reshuffle it. Billions more dollars are to be spent. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Insights Newsletter
26 May, 2017

Natural disaster horror stories and similar breakfast reading

The past fortnight has seen more local news stories about scary sea-level rise and earthquake building risks.It seems these days the public is being constantly urged by scientists, engineers and others to take costly action to reduce the potential for loss from natural disasters.Perhaps more accurately, scientists, engineers and others are lobbying government to force costly action on the public.One point of concern is many advocates are not disinterested spectators. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
The National Business Review
12 May, 2017

Fiscal virtues

Last week a joint Labour/Green statement proposed a fiscal agency to keep a Labour/Green coalition government honest. Now where would they get a crazy idea like that?Err, three years ago, The New Zealand Initiative recommended the creation of a Fiscal Council in New Zealand. It would report directly to Parliament on the sustainability of the government’s fiscal strategy given the ageing population. We had Australia’s Parliamentary Budget Office in mind.The Labour/Green agency would also be independent of ministers. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Insights Newsletter
31 March, 2017

BIM = Baffling inquisitive mandarins

Official Briefings for Incoming Ministers should be worth reading.  For a start, they should brief the new Minister about current issues and priorities. And they should be brief.So if you want to quickly get yourself up to speed on a policy area, you could do worse than start with the latest published BIM.  Right?Err, not exactly. Don’t forget the power of redaction.Take the case of the Treasury’s December 2016 briefing for Paul Goldsmith, the Minister for Regulatory Reform.  Now regulatory... Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Insights Newsletter
10 March, 2017

Dr Bryce Wilkinson talks tax cuts

The Prime Minister and Finance Minister are keeping tax cuts on the agenda, despite not knowing the cost of last week's earthquakes. Economist Bryce Wilkinson from the New Zealand Initiative says tax cuts must be able to be fund. The Salvation Army researcher Alan Johnson says we need to look at other deficits first. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Radio New Zealand
22 November, 2016

Feel good goals from the United Nations

This week the United Nations named Wonder Woman honorary ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls. Apparently she “will be tasked with raising awareness about Goal 5 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals”. This “seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030”. Good for her. After all, the task is a bit too challenging for the United Nations alone. There is precious little empowerment going on in significant parts of the world. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Insights Newsletter
28 October, 2016

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