Facing the bloggers

I will be doing a free presentation to the blogsphere in Auckland on December 2, followed by a Wellington presentation on December 10.

You guys have been good to me, challenging my preconceptions and helping me to develop my ideas understand (ideas was a stupid term – I never come up with anything original, I just aim to try to understand the world around me given the knowledge that already exists 😉 ).

I want to give something back by giving you guys a rundown on what has been going on in the economy, and some of the issues we should be keeping an eye on over the next three years.  Given that it is after the election I’m calling it a “post-election economic update for bloggers”.

I will pop up more details closer to the time – I just wanted to give you guys a heads up that this is happening, and that you are all more than welcome.

For those that cannot make it, I will pop up the slides on the site after the Wellington presentation.

NZAE conference

Well, the NZ Association of Economists conference is done for 2011. It’s a chance for all economists to get together and talk nerdy without fear of social reprisals, although the food is another popular topic of conversation — it was pretty good this year, if you’re wondering. There were plenty of great presentations and star turns from both Tim Harford and Ricardo Reis. The latter hung around for most of the conference and even attended the dinner, which left me completely starstruck!

Of course, it is also a chance for bloggers who normally interact only through the interwebs to talk in person and this conference was no exception: as the sole representative of TVHE I was accosted and lambasted by both Eric and Seamus from Offsetting Behaviour for our lack of recent activity. As Matt has previously mentioned, things have been a bit busy for us at work lately but blogging is Matt’s second highest priority so he’ll be back just as soon as he has a free hour or two.

In lieu of a post about Serious Issues I thought I’d let you know what the bloggers at NZAE got up to. Read more

Sustainable economics conference

Just come back from the sustainable economics conference – it is still going for a few hours, but it is just on politics now and I’m not a politician 😉

It was Green party hosted, so I have the impression that many of the ideas (especially when mentioned by their own MPs) were their ideas.

Now, there are a number of final value judgments I disagreed with, I felt the idea of crisis was overplayed, and the early characterisation of “neo-classical economics” was in many ways wrong and attacked economists too much – also they were too willing to blame the GFC (Great Financial Crisis) on any pet theory that existed.  BUT, these are all minor quibbles, and overall I was impressed with the discussion.

My main quibble is that sustainability was treated as the primary goal – this is still a “throughput” towards the main goal which is the welfare of the appropriate group on earth.  Assuming sustainability is the sole goal is equivalent to an extreme assumption about the makeup of the environment and/or the welfare function.  However, I will let this slide as I got to note it here 😉 .

The Green MPs spoke well, and showed a willingness to discuss and think about trade-offs, I was impressed with them.  There still seemed to be a feeling of “command and control” among some elements of the discussion, and there were specific issues I disagreed with, but overall I felt that the MPs were actually some of the best speakers – David and Russel spoke very well, and at least in terms of the framework they used I largely agreed with them.

The afternoon economic discussion was civil and sensible – and the policy conclusions that the speakers came too made sense.  So much so that if the Green party actually discussed their framework with Labour, National, and ACT (namely thinking about natural capital and accounting for externalities) they would find a large amount of agreement.

Now, this is the thing – the disagreement between parties is about the magnitudes, the quantitative figures, not the qualitative idea of allocation.

Given how much abuse the descriptive economic method took during the morning, I was surprised that the actual discussion on economic policy turned around and used it – surprised in a pleasant way.

Good on the Green party for getting this together – if you focused on discussing these issues and committing to studies that would try to work out the value of any policies objectively, I would vote for you.

If I continue to hear about capital controls and changes to monetary policy (none of which were raised at this conference thank goodness) then I will not vote for you.

That is just me though.

Policy analysis presentations

No Right Turn points to a “does inequality matter” workshop thing.

Very good, I would be keen to go except – it is over a work day.  It takes up an entire Tuesday, from 8.30am to 5pm.  It is set up so that it is on at a time when lots of people have to work.

This brings me to my point – why are these workshops never on weekends, or after work.  I generally can’t manage to take time off – I’m working on weekends enough as it is [Note:  Although I am going to the sustainability conference on Friday November 12, as I wanted to keep abreast of potential policy movements here].

Anyway, that is enough of me whining – just wanted to illustrate my disappointment that I can’t get to so many of these things 🙁

LEANZ Seminar in Wellington: The New Zealand – China Free Trade Agreement

The Law and Economics Association of New Zealand (LEANZ) is hosting an interesting seminar in Wellingotn next Monday on the free trade deal with China. It is being presented by some people in MFAT who were involved the behind the scenes economic and legal analysis of the deal. I (Agnitio) went to this seminar in Auckland and enjoyed it.

Seminar and RSPV details below

Read more

4th Annual Condliffe Memorial Lecture

Eric Crampton from the University of Canterbury pointed out that there will be an interesting presentation on tax policy on the Tuesday the 15th of July. It will be hosted at the University of Canterbury (further details below the flap).

The lecture will be presented by Professor Joel Slemrod and is titled Tax policy in the Real World – a very topical issue!

Anyone interested in attending should RSVP to Virginia McKenzie (virginia.mckenzie@canterbury.ac.nz) by Friday the 11th of July.

Further details about timing, the paper, and the authour are provided below the flap.

Read more