New Zealand’s sexiest economist 2015: Nominations open

It is hard to believe it has already been nearly a year since we have celebrated the work of New Zealand economists with a sexiest economist competition – and nearly two years since the competition kicked off.  However, it has been a year, so we’re doing this all over again.

Last year we introduced a nominations round.  Many people complained that their favourite economist wasn’t in the competition – which I’m guessing is a sign of regret that they didn’t get around to nominating them.

I want everyone to feel that they have had the chance to say “I think this economist does the sexiest economics, and is therefore my sexiest economist“.  As a result, this year I want all of you to take nominations very seriously.  On that note, here are the rules:

  1. The nomination must be for a public facing economist that is involved with New Zealand.  This is defined in more detail here.
  2. You can nominate more than one economist – but I’m still not allowing you to rank economists in the nomination round.
  3. You get an extra 1/4 of a nomination point for the person if you send me an economicsy looking picture of the economist.
  4. You get a FULL extra nomination point for writing a paragraph describing why your economist produces sexy economics.  I am very excited to see what people write.

Nominations will close at 5pm on Thursday the 12th of February (New Zealand time).  Voting will commence at 8am Friday the 13th of February (again, NZT).  This way you will be able to discuss who you are going to vote for with your partner during your Valentines Day dinner on Saturday.

You can nominate people in a number of ways:

Note:  I’m going to reiterate here to keep it classy – the purpose of the competition is to celebrate economists work, not to attack economists.  Let’s objectify the economics not the economists.  I will come down hard on any lewd or insulting comments, with the fire of a thousand economists who are being told that economics isn’t a science – you have been warned.

Why doesn’t NZ need a fiscal rule?

I’ve been pointed to a very useful review of NZ’s fiscal policy that explains how the country manages so well with neither a fiscal rule nor a fiscal council. The NZ government is required by law to maintain ‘prudent levels’ of public debt but, beyond that, it is left to individual governments to decide what that means. Accountability and scrutiny is achieved largely through transparency and “broad social consensus on fiscal responsibility” and, so far, that has largely worked. The weakness identified by the review is that the government pursues time-inconsistent policy and saves too little in booms to offset the expenditure in recessions. The UK, despite a series of fiscal rules, suffers from similar problems.

The review considers whether a numerical fiscal rule might help and makes the point that

..it might weaken the Government’s ‘ownership’ of the debt target, and its preparedness to save revenue windfalls…  It might create incentives for governments to comply with the rule through policies that would weaken other parts of the balance sheet.

In other words, once there is a rule then the game is compliance with the letter, not the spirit, and that can actually weaken fiscal governance. Read more

Piketty Panel

Hello New Zealand readers.  Just giving you a heads up that tomorrow (Thursday, 23 October) there is a panel discussion on the Piketty book (Capital in the Twenty-First Century) and its relevance to New Zealand.

As I contributed to the related book of book reviews, and as this particular event is in Wellington (where I live), I’m on the panel.  Here are the details which I stole from an email:

The event is at the Royal Society (11 Turnbull Street, Thordon) and begins at 5.30pm.
 
Bernard Hickey is chairing the panel, with the other panellists being Geoff Bertram, Brian Easton, Prue Hyman, Max Rashbrooke and Cathy Wylie. 
 
The aim of the event is simply to have some broad and engaging discussion on the relevance of Piketty for New Zealand, with reference to the book being launched on the night. 

And if it swings your boat, you can even join the Facebook event.

If you want to prepare beforehand, here is my long-form review (filled with typos – like honestly filled, it is a first draft that never went any further), here are some common misconceptions, and here is a list of other reviews.

Blue Green party: background reading

Stoked to see Gareth Morgan’s post yesterday calling for a Blue-Green party. He sums it up well in this passage

A Bluegreen party would emphatically express New Zealanders’ preference for clever and clean as the way we want our dollars earned, while leaving National and Labour to fight over how social justice is best promoted – via National’s preference for capacity building through education and training, delivering more flexible employment and wage-setting practices; or via Labour’s penchant for widening and lifting of social assistance, greater progressivity of income tax, widening the tax base on income from capital, and greater protection of labour in the workplace.

Matt and I have been talking about this since 2008 when all the TVHE authors took a political compass test as a gimmick to provide content for the blog. Due to a combination of laziness, a lack of money and no desire to get involved in politics, we haven’t done anything about our great idea. That was 6 years ago and a lot has changed since, but we still think there is room for a centrist Green party and so are stoked to see Gareth using his profile to have a serious conversation about it.

Matt did a good post on this about a year ago (There is some pretty robust discussion in the comments section).  When discussing the failed Progressive Greens party at the 1996 (which David Farrar mentions in his post on Gareth’s post) he noted: Read more

Food: Getting lost in social constructivism

After reading both the Stuff article and the initial article on Gareth Morgan’s blog and the follow up, I am convinced both Gareth and Geoff Simmons (GG) have inadvertently become extreme social constructivists – but may not realise it yet.

Now I hate it when people just whip out rhetoric like “social constructivist” and don’t explain it – so what do I mean, how have they gone this way, and what do we know about this type of framework so we can analyse it?

Read more