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:
Submission: Child Poverty Reduction Bill (2018)
Recipe for disaster: Building policy on shaky ground
Welfare, Work and Wellbeing: From Benefits to Better Lives (2017)
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

economy newspaper1

The lack of interest in the public interest

Late last month Housing New Zealand was widely condemned for being overzealous about amphetamine contamination.A report by the chief scientist had concluded that tenants were being evicted and state houses de-contaminated when there was no clear scientific evidence of a threat to human health.Some media articles asked how this could happen.  How could perhaps $100 million be spent, people evicted and houses left vacant by Housing New Zealand alone for no good reason?Having studied the analytical basis for government spending... Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
The National Business Review
29 June, 2018
Taranaki oil2

Sovereign risk and the divine right to rule - at a whim

Last week a long-standing geologist friend chewed my ear about the government’s irresponsible ban on new offshore oil and gas exploration. I call it irresponsible because on the evidence no meaningful consideration was given to the interests of New Zealanders. Industry was not consulted; Cabinet was reduced to a rubber stamp. The ban was not prior Labour Party policy. Respected New Zealand Herald columnist Fran O’Sullivan wrote that it was rushed through by the three coalition party leaders “so it... Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Insights Newsletter
22 June, 2018
Queen Victoria

We are not amused

Have you noticed how often the disembodied “we” word is used to justify policy action in government today? A stray document that reached our inbox this week may explain why. It is an extract from the Ministry of Truth’s guidance on the correct use of words. Apparently, successful careers for aspiring public servants and politicians can result from the successful application of just two rules.RULE 1: Use the “We” word often, but always ambiguously Ambiguity is everything in government. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Insights Newsletter
15 June, 2018

The extraordinary MBIE-Treasury spat over KiwiBuild

The government plans to build 100,000 ‘affordable’ houses in the next 10 years. How much greater is the housing stock likely to be in 10, 15 or 20 years as a result? That is an analytical question. At its heart is the question of how many dwellings would be built anyway. The future housing stock is only larger to the extent of any difference. Macroeconomic forecasters, including the Treasury, the Reserve Bank and the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research,... Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Insights Newsletter
25 May, 2018
New Zealand globe

Small was beautiful in 1908, gross is great today

Government was vastly smaller in 1908 than now. The tax-and spend state was vastly smaller, but so was the regulatory state.In 1907-8 central government taxation was around $780 per capita in today’s dollars, 6.3% of GDP. In the year ended March 2017 it was around $17,800 per capita, 29.6% of GDP.The rise of the intrusive redistributive state largely explains the change. Spending on Statistics New Zealand’s measure of “collective consumption” was only 5.1% of GDP in the year ended March 2017. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Insights Newsletter
11 May, 2018
Budget day

Budgeting for aspirations and wellbeing

The Coalition government’s first budget is just over two weeks away. Its core is always fiscal policy – how much it is planning to spend and how it is planning to fund that spending. But its regulatory intentions will be important too.An intriguing aspect is the move to a wellbeing framework.Fiscally, I expect this budget will stay within Labour’s pre-election commitments for spending, tax, operating surpluses and debt. These commitments include five budget responsibility rules. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
The National Business Review
4 May, 2018
House sale

The taxing matter of outrageously high house prices

Could changes in 1989 to New Zealand’s tax treatment of retirement savings plausibly explain a significant portion of the subsequent sharp rise in New Zealand house prices?Andrew Coleman made the case that it could to a LEANZ audience in Wellington this week. He was careful not to argue that it did.He said other relevant factors were operating. These included higher per capita incomes along with lower inflation and lower real interest rates. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Insights Newsletter
6 April, 2018
Pensioner drinking

Time to raise a glass to our intergenerational wellbeing

When I was a lad, Treasury was a home for bean counters. Many a fine public servant did an accounting degree part-time at evening classes at Vic. Full-time study was unaffordable; they needed a day job for income.   They knew their day job. It was to run a surgical eye over departmental spending proposals. Noes were more satisfying than Ayes. Noes could help a minister of finance keep the budget healthy. Noes saved ‘the country’ money. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Insights Newsletter
23 February, 2018

The farcical case for banning you from selling your home to a foreigner

New Zealand exports about 95 percent of its dairy production. The receipts make it a major overseas earner. Imagine a proposed ban on the export of dairy products.  “This would”, the misguided advocates might earnestly explain, “benefit New Zealand consumers by making dairy products more affordable (cheaper) in New Zealand”. You do not need a degree in economics to spot the flaw in this argument. That benefit would be entirely at the expense of New Zealand producers. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Insights Newsletter
16 February, 2018

Governments still under-prepared for the next big one

Earthquake-prone New Zealand is still under-prepared for the next earthquake or major disaster. That is the central finding of The New Zealand Initiative’s research report, Recipe for disaster: Building policy on shaky ground. While much of what the government did needed to be done, post-earthquake recovery was hindered by avoidable policy mistakes, some of which have still not been adequately addressed. The initial blueprint recovery plan was too broad brush to give the business community the certainty it needed about... Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Insights Newsletter
26 January, 2018
Recipe Disaster cover

Recipe for disaster: Building policy on shaky ground

Kiwis know a lot about earthquake preparedness. We know that we have to store enough water and supplies to last for an extended period. We know that our houses need to be fixed to their foundations, and roofing tiles need to be tied down. And we know that our disaster plans must be up-to-date, so family members can find each other if cell phone networks are down.But the government must attend to its own earthquake preparedness. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
Dr Eric Crampton
Jason Krupp
25 January, 2018
Bryce 1 News

Bryce Wilkinson on 1 News

The coalition Government says about 384,000 families will be better off by $75 a week under its families package.It's estimated 88,000 children's lives will be turned around by the flagship policy which will cost $5.5 billion over the next five years. Bryce Wilkinson talks to 1 News about this announcement. Read more

Dr Bryce Wilkinson
1 News
14 December, 2017

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