Election day

After everything going haywire for a while it has all gone quiet, and generally we are supposed to remain mute on party preference and party politics until 7pm tonight.  That has lead Imperator Fish to go on a journey of arbitrary things (one, two, three, four).

I’m going to stick to election related points that are irrelevant instead:

  1. There was lots of advanced voting this time.  And yet this is the first time I haven’t advanced voted.  I’m pretending this is due to pure chance, rather than it being a statement about how cool my choices are.
  2. This is my first time in “Wellington Central”.  I quite like this electorate to be honest 🙂
  3. Does anyone else get a bit nervous that the ink from the orange pen will stain another part of the voting form, and your vote will be thrown out?
  4. On that note, the orange mark shows up on the back of the paper – I don’t really like that either.
  5. Why can people yell out you outside of advance voting booths, but not outside of voting booths on the day?
  6. Do I have to wear my “Yes I have voted” sticker all day to stop people yelling at me?

So if you haven’t go vote.  Preferably, wear orange:

7 replies
  1. jh
    jh says:

    Matt, what do you think of the role of a “top economist”:

    “What scares me are the policies that we see in the fringes and the
    fringe parties and they scare me a great deal because a few of them,
    quite frankly, are quite mad,”
    “”I don’t want to get into bad-mouthing particular political parties.
    Most of the small parties are not pursuing policies that are good for
    New Zealand – they are pursuing policies that are good for a small


    Are economists sometimes spin doctors?

    On the other hand there’s Gareth Morgan who lays it out straight


    • Matt Nolan
      Matt Nolan says:

      Hi JH,

      Economics is, in some sense, a language. Economists are people who use this language to both do research and communicate the research. In that way, economists can definitely be seen as having a marketing role:


      That is part of the reason why I have very strict seeming standards about what “economics” is in the “for new readers” section. Anything that provides a policy conclusion is not economics alone, and the purpose of economics as a language is really to be “objective” but to be “transparent” about assumptions.

      Both Shamubeel and Gareth are incredibly good at the communication side of economics (and the rest as well – but they have a very specific skill here). This is an area I’m interested in thinking about (http://www.tvhe.co.nz/2013/07/05/tarot-card-reading-and-the-art-of-economic-communication/) but it isn’t an area where economists get “trained”.

      In this specific case, knowing both Shamubeel and Gareth, I’m certain that both of them are politically independent – and they are outlining what they genuinely believe giving their different value judgments.

      • jh
        jh says:

        It isn’t just about being good at communication though. Business NZ (and the liberal left) like the NZIER call for a larger population. It makes TV and the public assume it must be right.
        The paper refers to two research papers and runs a computer model. However I have read Treasury Paper 14-10 where the author seems to be saying that after years of modelling (and new work from here and Australia) they reach a different conclusion.
        I’m seeing the Corleone family get Hyman Roth here?

        • Matt Nolan
          Matt Nolan says:

          Coming up with a “policy conclusion” involves value judgments, and a weighting among the many types of models we can use to ascertain outcomes.

          However, the NZIER makes the assumptions involved transparent – so that is part of the advantage of using the economic method. The concern would be if they used the language of economics to hide the assumptions they made, this is a way economics as a language can be abused.

          • jh
            jh says:

            I don’t see the transparent assumptions, I just see the results?:

            “Our test is a simple one. We form a model using GDP, population and immigration data since World War II
            and then ask “what would happen to per capita income, in real terms adjusted for inflation, if, over a
            period of ten years, we gradually raised the rate of net immigration to almost 40,000 additional migrants each year?”6 We chose 40,000 because it is significantly higher than the average net annual immigration flow of 15,000 New Zealand has experienced over the past dozen years, and near the peak of the most migrants we had in any one year (41,592 in 2003).
            Our model is simple, but isolates the impacts of GDP per capita on net migration and impacts from
            changes in net migration on GDP per capita. The model allows for all the key channels from net migration to GDP including lifting scale and spill-overs from providing firms with new skills. And if providing migrants with additional infrastructure diverts too many resources from other uses we expect GDP per capita to fall.
            When we shock or change net migration, Figure 2 shows that GDP per capita increases and the
            accumulated response over 25 years is not trivial – $10,240 in today’s terms or a little under a quarter of what New Zealanders produce on average each year. That means every New Zealander produces just under $410 dollars of additional output each year.7, 8 Figure 2 also shows confidence intervals for the impact on per capita income after 25 years. The point estimates have considerable uncertainty but do not include zero. So immigration flows lift incomes for not just migrants but the local population too: the benefits migrants bring to New Zealand outweigh any drag on the economy from funding additional infrastructure.”
            and I still don’t get how they can (apparently) contradict this:

            Treasury Paper 14-10
            Changing policy expectations

            While useful, models do not capture all the effects policymakers expect from immigration.
            When New Zealand moved to increase the numbers and skills of immigrants in the 1980s and 1990s, policymakers appear to have considered that these changes had the potential to have major beneficial impacts on the New Zealand economy, reinforcing the gains from the other liberalising and deregulating economic reforms undertaken during that period.
            At that time, it was considered that skills-focused inward migration could: improve growth by bringing in better quality human capital and addressing skills shortages; improve international connections and boost trade; help mitigate the effects of population ageing; and have beneficial effects on fiscal balance. As well as “replacing” departing New Zealanders and providing particular help with staffing public services (for example, medical professionals), it was believed that migration flows could be managed so as to avoid possible detrimental effects (such as congestion or poorer economic prospects) for existing New Zealanders.

            Since then, New Zealand has had substantial gross and net immigration, which has been relatively skill-focused by international standards. However, New Zealand’s economic performance has not been transformed. Growth in GDP per capita has been relatively lacklustre, with no progress in closing income gaps with the rest of the advanced world, and productivity performance has been poor. It may be that initial expectations about the potential positive net benefits of immigration were too high.

            Based on a large body of new research evidence and practical experience, the consensus among policy makers now is that other factors are more important for per capita growth and productivity than migration and population growth. CGE modelling exercises for Australia and New Zealand have been influential in reshaping expectations.”

              • jh
                jh says:

                Isn’t the point that you can alter the assumptions and have completely different results and the context is that this has been done a thousand times before, however the message was not what powerful interests wanted heard?

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