2019 NZIER Economics Award

NZIER had their annual NZIER Economics Award earlier in the week – or as we often call it NZ Economist of the Year.  The winner for 2019 was John McDermott, current Executive Director and Motu and former Chief Economist of the RBNZ.

John was an excellent choice for this award. He has contributed significantly to NZ and international literature, while influencing policy making in NZ – especially through the high pressure times of the Global Financial Crisis. Furthermore, while doing all this he has taken time to do some economics teaching in Wellington, helping to inspire future generations of students.

It is rare for an economist to shine in both academic and policy environments, which makes this choice a good one.
Let’s look at a few examples of John’s contributions so far – from my favorite papers we have:

  • Dr. Mc Dermott’s work on business cycles across regions is one of his reports with especially interesting findings. The evidence shows that distance between regions matters for NZ economic activity, whereas, net migration flows don’t seem to influence regional business cycles. http://motu-www.motu.org.nz/wpapers/04_10.pdf
  • Another piece looks at associations between economic activity cycles and house price cycles where no significant evidence were found. http://motu-www.motu.org.nz/wpapers/06_03.pdf
  • John also provided a detailed discussion of how insolvency rates changed after the Global Financial Crisis, given us another perspective on how that particular shock influenced firm dynamics http://motu-www.motu.org.nz/wpapers/19_15.pdf.

Other New Zealand economists I’ve talked to have spoken highly about John’s work both in academia and at the Bank.  One paper that has received special mention was his work with Viv Hall on constructing a long-term GDP series for New Zealand (https://www.rbnz.govt.nz/-/media/ReserveBank/Files/Publications/Discussion%20papers/2009/dp09-12.pdf) – something that has helped policy makers and academics alike put the changes in economic circumstance in New Zealand in greater perspective.

What makes John the best economist of the year? In my view, his rigour approach and well-thought through approach to economics!  More detail of this can be found on the NZIER page.