Tweeting the curse of distance

Via Owen Williams on Twitter came this gem:

This is true, shipping is a pretty big deal.  However, Aaron Schiff pointed out another common cost of being in NZ:

This is of course the curse of distance – both from the “production” of goods and from large centres of “consumption” (where the fixed cost of transporting can be spread over more customers).  The OECD has discussed this cost before, and NZ’s Productivity Commission also mentions it when discussing why productivity in New Zealand is relatively low.

Nice to see Amazon giving us some concrete examples we can use to discuss the phenomenon though – well nice until you want to buy anything 😉

13 replies
  1. Owen
    Owen says:

    Interesting because I frequently get free shipping on bike parts from the UK. Normally over a $$ amount is free, but lately they have been offering free shipping as a special without $$ limits.

    • Matt Nolan
      Matt Nolan says:

      Part of the reason I use book depository a lot of the time as well. The curse of distance isn’t a constant – just an interesting thing to keep in mind.

      • Paul Walker
        Paul Walker says:

        My real point is that we are along way from everywhere and there is nothing we can do about that fact. We just have to live with it.

        • Miguel Sanchez
          Miguel Sanchez says:

          Matt already gave a prescription – use Book Depository instead. There is no good reason why Amazon’s shipping charges are so high.

        • Matt Nolan
          Matt Nolan says:

          Indeedy! I don’t like the constant discussion of “catching” things – and at least this sort of description points out why that can be wrongheaded 😉

  2. Jim Rose
    Jim Rose says:

    Nonsense. Australia and NZ suffer equally from the burden of distance: 10 % of GDP.

    Distance does not explain tthe rans-tasman income nor its sudden emergence in the 1970s and early 1980s.

    • Matt Nolan
      Matt Nolan says:

      Hi Jim,

      I have to disagree with your nonsense call, as I think you are arguing against a claim that isn’t in the post. I wasn’t discussing the Aussie to NZ income gap – I was discussing the curse of distance as a concept. Indeed the paper I linked to put the estimated effect of this at the same level for both countries, which if we accepted that implies there are other reasons for this other gap – but again, this post was not about that gap.

      • Jim Rose
        Jim Rose says:

        fair point, but not so many people report it that way,

        Auckland is closer to Los Angeles How Adelaide and Perth would read in the shops just defeats me because they are just so far way.

  3. beautox
    beautox says:

    I wish someone would highlight the appalling service that NZ post offers. It’s very annoying for small exporters like myself (and lots of others). My big gripe is that there is no cheap-ish way of sending an international item with tracking. NO WAY. There used to be but NZ post stopped that about 10 years ago.

    To show what I mean, a small item, say a pack of laying cards sized. Costs $14 to send to the USA with no tracking. The cheapest way to send with tracking is “Economy Courier” which costs $48. But this service is not available to all countries, in which case you need to use ‘Express Courier’ which is $75 or more.

    Compare this to China – I bought some kitchen scales the other day – cost was us$5.50 including delivery with tracking. So clearly it must cost a lot less in China.

    It annoys the hell out of me, all the BS about helping exporters with NZ post playing silly buggers like this. Untracking mail might be OK for sending to friends but not for sending business stuff. And NZ Post are screwing us

      • beautox
        beautox says:

        Maybe courier services, but I am talking regular international mail, just tracked international mail. Most country’s post offices provide such a service, and you can track via NZ post (or any post) tracking service.

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