Brexit

How freedom was lost in Brexit

When the UK voted to leave the European Union in last year’s referendum, it was widely interpreted as a victory of the political right.That was not incorrect. The right wing of the Conservative Party and the populist UK Independence Party were the forces behind the Leave campaign.How ironic, therefore, that 10 months later the entire spectrum of British politics has shifted to the left.Having spent the past week in London, meeting politicians and think tankers, it was impossible not to miss... Read more

Dr Oliver Hartwich
The National Business Review
26 May, 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
Rocket website thumbnail

Look up!

While Budget days bring focus to the Government’s spending priorities, there is no budget day for regulation. Regulation never gets the same attention as spending, but it is at least as important. The Public Finance Act constrains government against doing particularly silly things in the budget, but it remains too easy to get regulation horribly wrong. Yesterday’s Budget coincided with the culmination of one notable bit of regulatory success, to which we will return. Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
Insights Newsletter
26 May, 2017
NZcoins

A Budget Day Conspiracy

I thought the point of the Budget lock-up was to give everyone adequate time to process and digest complex information, and ensure no media organisation had an exclusive.Now I’m not so sure. In fact, I have a theory. Everyone in the room (excluding a few choice journalists*) paid off some chump to write op-eds that would be used as templates for every news organisation. Approximately one hour is used “personalising” their Budget hot-takes. Read more

Jenesa Jeram
Insights Newsletter
26 May, 2017
blue piggy on the grass 1

Data can tell us when 'social investment' is worthwhile

Cold hard data will not put breakfast on the table. It will not be a source of comfort and advice when there is no one else to talk to. And it will not put a roof over anyone's head. Yet the Government's social investment approach - and in particular the greater use of data - could revolutionise the way social services are funded and delivered. Read more

Jenesa Jeram
NZ Herald
23 May, 2017
Building house

Horses for courses

When economist Paul Samuelson was challenged to come up with an economic principle that was both true and non-obvious, he cited comparative advantage.That two people, or countries, can be made better off by trading, even if one of them is better at producing everything that they might trade, is hardly intuitive.President Donald Trump gets it wrong on a near daily basis when he frames trade as being about winners and losers.But there is another important true and non-obvious lesson of... Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
The National Business Review
19 May, 2017
EarthquakeBuilding1

Asset sales and fiscal trevails

Infrastructure financing can be tough for fast-growing councils hitting up against their debt limits. When interest payments, as a fraction of expenditures, are up against the cap, new borrowing for infrastructure has to quickly provide a return that offsets the interest costs. Auckland’s inability to lay out infrastructure to meet the needs of a growing city largely come down to problems with financing and those interest limits. Council asset sales, and central government assistance, are both worth considering. Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
Insights newsletter
19 May, 2017
apple on book1

Show me the evidence

The football season has begun. Not the FIFA cup, but the political football that is education. And when it comes to the fate of partnership schools, the Labour team’s position has been ambiguous, at best. The survival of these schools, if Labour gets into Government, has been changing from one day to the next, and from one member to the next. Two Sundays ago, Labour list candidate Willie Jackson, who helped set up a partnership school, suggested that Labour would... Read more

Martine Udahemuka
Insights newsletter
19 May, 2017
Parliament

Beating a dead gift horse

You should never look a gift horse in the mouth. Nor should you publicly bag the gift horse and accuse it of causing misery across the country. Surely everyone would agree to that. If someone is giving you money, you don’t insult them, you get on your knees and lick their boots. It is therefore baffling that there has been such a hubbub when Associate Housing Minister Alfred Ngaro said something to that effect. Read more

Dr Rachel Hodder
Insights newsletter
19 May, 2017
Skyscraper

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
Parliament

Time for a New Zealand first

The September election is still a few months away but politicians, pollsters and pundits are already speculating on the outcome.Of course, forecasts are difficult, particularly about the future. However, one thing seems certain: It will be a close race.A continuation of the current National-led government with its smallish support partners is possible but perhaps not too likely. It is also improbable for Labour and Greens to command a parliamentary majority of their own.Few people are yet prepared to even consider... Read more

Dr Oliver Hartwich
Insights Newsletter
12 May, 2017
Shoes

Social investment is about changing lives

“Too often, past governments have judged success only by what they spent, rather than what difference that spending made to people’s lives. Yet changing lives is the whole point.”Prime Minister Bill English did not shy away from acknowledging past government failures in his pre-Budget speech last week. With a focus on social investment, English was sending the message he had already made many times as Finance Minister: it is not the spending that matters, but its effectiveness.If you ever get... Read more

Jenesa Jeram
Insights Newsletter
12 May, 2017

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