data electronics

Making all-you-can-eat data tastier

In Damon Knight’s classic science-fiction short story, helpful aliens provide Earth with unlimited energy and plenty of food. The aliens even have a manual titled, “How to Serve Man.” It all seems too good to be true – until a translator works out the book’s first paragraph and sees it is not your traditional alien butler’s training guide. Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
The National Business Review
23 June, 2017
economy newspaper1

Policy-based elections

Last week brought some hope that this year’s election would have a stronger policy focus. The OECD released its report on the state of the New Zealand, and the moves necessary to improve outcomes in education, productivity and economic growth. Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
Insights Newsletter
23 June, 2017
Beach

News about Niue

We may not often hear about Niue, that small Pacific island state. But within the past week, we heard about it twice. First as a paradise in need of culturally sensitive help, and then as a potential libertarian sanctuary.Bill English included a stop in the capital of Alofi on his island-hopping tour of the South Pacific. There the Prime Minister opened a new hotel development made possible by New Zealand aid money.Despite such generosity, English was criticised by his Niuean... Read more

Dr Oliver Hartwich
Insights Newsletter
23 June, 2017
NZcoins

Monetary policy needs public scrutiny

Unless you are closely following New Zealand monetary policy, you might have missed a BusinessDesk story last week. The newspaper revealed an astonishing correspondence between Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler and BNZ’s chief executive Anthony Healy.The exchange had been triggered by a preview of the Reserve Bank’s Monetary Policy Statement, prepared by the BNZ’s chief economist Stephen Toplis. In this briefing, Mr Toplis expressed his views about RBNZ policy which Mr Wheeler read as a personal criticism.This prompted a letter... Read more

Dr Oliver Hartwich
Insights Newsletter
16 June, 2017
algebra1

One of the problems with 21st century skills

Over the past week, TVNZ aired a series of interactive programmes exploring the future of society and work. It is an appealing idea: that in the future, life and work will look dramatically different.In fact, so enchanting is this idea that it has been used around the world to justify changing the school curriculum: away from teaching subject knowledge and in favour of ‘21st century skills’.The argument goes that since many of our children will one day work in jobs... Read more

Briar Lipson
Insights Newsletter
16 June, 2017
Law

Police protection

Tenacity is normally a virtue. But when that tenacity is in pursuit of the kind of thing that has gotten you in trouble before, it is just a bit less virtuous. The tenacious toddler’s pursuit of a forbidden cookie is cute at first, but it gets annoying pretty quickly.Wellington’s police are nothing if not tenacious on the alcohol front. But it seems they just cannot cop a break.Back in March, the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority effectively told the police... Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
Insights Newsletter
16 June, 2017
Housing1

Government needs to take steps to encourage councils to get new housing built

The accommodation supplement is supposed to make housing more affordable for low income tenants. But whether it can really do that job depends a lot on market conditions. And, right now, it does not seem that likely that the government’s increase in the accommodation supplement will really do much to help tenants.   Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
Interest.co.nz
12 June, 2017
credit card

Let prices do the job

You do not need prices in a land of plenty. Prices are a wonderful way of coordinating competing demands on scarce resources. They emerge, along with property rights, when scarcity starts to matter. And scarcity is starting to matter for a lot of the things that tourists like in New Zealand. Prior to European colonisation, Canadian beaver and other furred animals were so abundant relative to local demand that there was no need to use property rights to maintain trapping grounds. Read more

Dr Eric Crampton
Insights Newsletter
9 June, 2017
camera on fishing boat

A world-leading solution?

The 2017 Budget brought a boost to fisheries management intended to enhance New Zealand’s much-touted world-leading Quota Management System. The Minister for Primary Industries announced $30.5 million towards a world-leading Integrated Electronic Monitoring and Reporting System (IEMRS). According to the Minister, IEMRS will provide us with “the most transparent and accountable commercial fishery anywhere in the world … every fishing vessel can be monitored at all times … and any illegal activity dealt with.” The Minister and the Ministry for... Read more

Dr Randall Bess
Insights Newsletter
9 June, 2017
cake1

First, do no harm

You won’t normally find this column defending nanny-state initiatives around healthy eating.   Personal responsibility matters, and the simple fact that somebody chooses food you would not choose for yourself hardly means they are irrational, or that force-feeding them things they do not like would make them better off.   But in the grand scheme of things, Christchurch’s Healthy Eating strategy is not nearly as bad as it could have been. And that is something to celebrate in a crazy world. Read more

Martine Udahemuka
Insights Newsletter
9 June, 2017

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