Little River Band – Home On A Monday


Aerogard insect repellant TV commercial – Max Walker

The gales of creative destruction in vinyl, cassettes and CDs



Treasury says there’s sloppy analysis on sin taxes. We agree.

The Sand Pit

Last week The New Zealand Initiative released The Health of the State, our report on public health and lifestyle regulations. You may have caught some of the media coverage on it.

While the report has a bunch of key messages that I think are important, here’s the one I found most valuable during the course of this research: don’t rely on media coverage or press releases alone. Read the report. And even then, read the whole report, not just the abstract and conclusion. It’s amazing, and incredibly rewarding, discovering studies – evenly highly regarded studies – aren’t all that they seem.

Outcomes from the panel discussion

To launch the report, we held a panel discussion where I spoke alongside The Treasury’s Chief Economist and Deputy Secretary Dr Girol Karacaoglu, Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox, and Institute for Economic Affairs Fellow Jamie Whyte. You can watch the full panel discussion here

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Cooper and Kovacic on Behavioral Economics and Regulatory Agencies

Truth on the Market

There is an embarrassing blind spot in the behavioral law and economics literature with respect to implementation of policy whether via legislation or administrative agency.  James Cooper and William Kovacic — both currently at the Federal Trade Commission as Attorney Advisor Commissioner, respectively — aim to fill this gap with a recent working paper entitled “Behavioral Economics: Implications for Regulatory Behavior.”  The basic idea is to combine the insights of public choice economics and behavioral economics to explore the implications for behavioral regulation at administrative agencies and, in particular given their experiences, a competition and consumer protection regulator.

Here is the abstract:

Behavioral economics (BE) examines the implications for decision-making when actors suffer from biases documented in the psychological literature. These scholars replace the assumption of rationality with one of “bounded rationality,” in which consumers’ actions are affected by their initial endowments, their tastes for fairness, their inability…

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University paternalism and the outwardly-focused student movement

Family Inequality

I’m not going to join  the criticism of the students at Yale, because I don’t know all that they’re going through. From a distance the symbolic things (like emails about Halloween costumes) that spark massive reactions often appear out of scale. Straws that break camels’ backs appear weightless.

So just two thoughts to share inspired by recent events.

Universities shouldn’t be in this business

A lot of people were taken aback by the casual way that Black students refer to Nicholas Christakis as the “master” of Silliman College. That archaic paternalism is not just linguistic.

I’ve previous argued that, although they do have legal and ethical obligations to respond to sexual assault on campus, colleges shouldn’t be in the business of investigating and punishing those crimes. They are terrible at it, their intervention downgrades sexual assault from crime to (student) women’s issue, and the campus system separates sexual assault (and its…

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Financial capability: what New Zealanders could do with from their governments

croaking cassandra

I’ve written previously, and skeptically, about the financial capability strategy the government released last year. It is something of a wonder that civilisations have reached their current prosperity and sophistication without the aid of governments and their officials strategizing and pontificating about what we, citizens, “need” to know about money.  “Building the financial capability of New Zealanders is”, we are told, “a priority for the government”.  But what business is it of theirs?   And each time I read that line, I can’t help thinking that it would be better, and much more legitimate, if it were reversed: building financial capability of governments (and its agencies and officials) should be a priority for New Zealanders.

Last week, the bureaucrats were at it again.  The Financial Markets Authority published a so-called White Paper, with a Foreword written by the Chief Executive (so this is no mere background research paper, simply reporting the…

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Jeffrey Miron of Havard University explores three myths about capitalism

The Philippines’ Geographic Challenge

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