Small town dynamics

By international standards, New Zealand is a small town economy. True, Auckland now has more than 1.5 million people, but by global metrics this is not very large. In 2010 there were 449 cities with more than 1 million residents, and Auckland was ranked 307 in terms of population. Small beans indeed – even if Auckland is four times as large as the next two biggest cities in New Zealand.

So how does this small size influence outcomes for New Zealanders?

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Land taxes and the Zero-Carbon Act

The Zero-Carbon Act means New Zealand is to accelerate the transition to an economy that uses fewer carbon-fossil based energy sources. Given what we know about the problems of global warming, a future in which most energy is renewable is to be welcomed. (As a life-long bicycle commuter, I also hope this future involves fewer cars, to raise the probability I shall live long enough to see it.) 

However, such a transition may require public investment and redistribution to help certain groups who suffer disproportionately from the changes – implying that feasible externality taxes may not be enough. If so there may be a case for land taxes to help fill this gap.

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Retirement savings and tax: Why are we disincentivising green alternatives?

In an earlier post I noted that a partial solution to the climate crisis is large scale investments in capital-intensive green energy projects, particularly in developing countries. This provides an opportunity for middle-aged savers in high income countries, so long as their savings are productively invested.

This is where New Zealand has an issue. 

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Tiwai Point and the government’s role in “transition”

Once again, Rio Tinto is threatening to shut down Tiwai Point in order to gain concessions. Ultimately, government isn’t supporting the smelter because we care about Rio Tinto – but because we care about the workers and their opportunities in life.

This reminds me of a post from 2013 which I would like to repeat here – it was originally posted on interest.co.nz here.

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Cook, Elcano, and Circumnavigation

New Zealand is in the process of commemorating, commiserating and/or celebrating James Cook’s first voyage to New Zealand in 1769. New Zealand was merely one stop on his trip, albeit a lengthy one, which proceeded onwards to Australia, Java (where nearly a third of the crew died from dysentery), Cape Town and back to England.  It was the 25th circumnavigation of the world.

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Firms dynamics, labour force growth, and productivity: The curious case of NZ

In this post I am going to discuss how a change in labour force growth can explain firms’ entry/ exit rates. Recent findings by Hopenhayn et al (2018) for the US motivated me to think about this relationship in a NZ context.

Furthermore, the authors linked these entry and exit rates to “dynamism” and therefore productivity growth – a link I wanted to think about a bit more carefully.

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