Living below the line

Hey all.  Instead of writing about anything you might be interested in, I’m going to use this forum to ask for donations for the living below the line challenge next week – with the funds going to Aoteraroa Development Cooperative.  The justification I’ve been using when asking people is below.

I just received an email reminding me I’m doing the Living Below the Line thing this week, where I just have to spend less than $2.25 per day on food next week – and so I need to fund-raise.

The charity my funds are being donated too is Aotearoa Development Cooperative, which is a small microfinance bank that has been set up in Myanmar. If you want to support them by giving me money here, that would be pretty cool.

If anyone is up to giving a couple of dollars to a good cause that would be choice.

Graph of the day: Uber Improves Life, Economists Agree

Via our friend @robbidigi we were pointed to this article by Justin Wolfers in the NY Times, which has this fantastic graph. More generally, this graph is from the IGM Economic Experts panel, which carries out surveys like this all the time. Worth checking  out if are you interested in what economists think on topical issues, which is probably nobody except other economists:)

UBER

 

Quote of the Day: Garner on the Greens

Duncan Garner is a bit of a stirrer, but he pulled out some interesting numbers in his article yesterday arguing the Greens should move to the centre:

The Greens talk poverty and social justice, but the poor aren’t listening – and they’re certainly not voting for them. Look at these telling statistics from the poorest electorates in the country:

In Manurewa, in the crucial party vote, just 868 people voted for the Greens; in Manukau, East it was just 744; in Mangere, it was just 865.

Now look at the two most wealthy suburbs in NZ:

In Epsom, the Greens got 3415 votes; in Wellington Central, they got 8627 party votes, more than Labour’s 7351; in Auckland Central the Greens got 4584 votes, compared to Labour’s 4758.

I would really want to see some more numbers around this, but if this is a general trend, then it would suggest either:

  1. The Greens’ support is from the relatively well-off who care about the poor, rather than the poor themselves; or
  2. People who care about the environment tend to be relatively well-off.

Now I’m sure the make up of the Green support base isn’t that stark. But in the context of our discussion (e.g here, & here) about a centrist Green party, if the Greens moved to the centre they would likely lose group 1 but keep group 2.

The interesting question therefore is what proportion of their support base falls into both camps (i.e. care about social justice and the environment) and what weighting they place on both issues. This then follows on to the question of what is the untapped support base of people who care about the environment but generally vote National?

Scientists as advocates … and humility around value judgments

I keep seeing tweets like this – like multiple times a day for several weeks now:

So I thought I should provide my thoughts.

I agree.  Scientists are people and should be able to say what they believe in … as long as they:

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New Zealand politicians want everyone elses wages cut

Our Prime minister, John Key, has decided to say the following:

Prime Minister John Key has indicated he thought the New Zealand dollar’s fair falue was around 65 USc and that it would be logical for the Reserve Bank to intervene to push the New Zealand dollar lower, given it was currently well above where it was fundamentally fairly valued.

Key restated his view that currency intervention was not effective in the long term to try to shift the underlying value of the currency, but agreed it was “fairly logical” for the Reserve Bank to intervene when the currency was so far away from its fundamental value.

Lots of people may think this, most of them without any thought or interest about asking “why” the dollar is where it is, but lots of people do think it.  But a sudden drop in the New Zealand dollar is akin to a cut in wages – all those imports suddenly become more expensive.

Given their standing and thereby ability to seemingly signal intervention in markets, the prime minister and finance minister really need to keep quiet about policy where there is an independent body involved – as it both creates volatility and indicates that such things are a more political issue.  I was pissed off when Cullen did this, pissed off when Key has done it in the past, and I’m pissed off hearing it now.  I don’t care if someone asked the frikken question, part of central bank independence is having fiscal authorities show a bit of discipline with their comments.

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