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John Quiggin

John Quiggin

He is an Australian economist, a Professor and an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow at the University of Queensland, and a former member of the Board of the Climate Change Authority of the Australian Government.

Articles by John Quiggin

Finkel’s road to zero

4 days ago

That’s the title of my latest piece in Inside Story (republished with a slightly different title in The Canberra Times). It draws on a shorter summary I published here. Read it at Inside Story, and comment here.
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Monday Message Board

7 days ago

Back again with another Monday Message Board.

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link

http://eepurl.com/dAv6sX You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page
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Public debt: don’t target the quantity, target the price

9 days ago

As I’ve mentioned previously, when I started work on Economic Consequences of the Pandemic, I assumed I’d be writing a polemic against austerity, as I did in Zombie Economics. Based on the last crisis, it seemed likely that any stimulus measures would be wound back rapidly, leading to a sluggish and limited recovery. That’s pretty much what is happening in Australia, where I live, but not in the US, where the book will be published. On the contrary, Biden’s policies are pretty much what I would have advocated (certainly if you take into account the razor-thin majorities he is working with). And, with luck, the main elements will be in place by mid-year, long before my book can appear.

So I’m refocusing on the issue of debt and how it can be managed. This was the central issue

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Last Word on the Golden Age (for now)

10 days ago

Thanks to everyone who has made useful comments on my recent posts. I need to move on to present concerns, so I’m finishing my writing on the post-War Golden Age (or whatever you would like to call this period). Here are some thoughts I still need to organize

Over the period since 1900 as a whole, there hasn’t been any clear trend in the rate of technological progress for the US. However, from 1950 to the early 1970s, the US economy was closer to the ‘frontier’ determined by technological progress and available resources before or since, and the output of the economy was shared more equally than before or since.

We can’t replicate these things exactly, but we can use a revamped version of the mid-C20 institutions as a starting point for a Green New Deal.

The breakdown of

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Monday Message Board

14 days ago

Back again with another Monday Message Board.

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link

http://eepurl.com/dAv6sX You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page
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There really was a Golden Age*

16 days ago

The claim that the mid-20th century represented an economic Golden Age of near-full employment and economic equality, compared to both earlier and later periods, commonly meets two kinds of critical responses. Over the fold, I respond.

The first objection, which is addressed in the draft chapter I posted, is that the benefits of this period were largely confined to white men. Certainly, at the beginning of the Golden Age, the US and many other developed countries were characterised by legally institutionalised racism and sexism. Blacks in much of the US were denied the right to vote, and subject to many other kinds of legal and social discrimination. The same was true of indigenous people in many countries including Australia, and of the treatment of colonial subjects of

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The Golden Age

17 days ago

In most societies, there is a myth of a ‘golden age’, a time when men and women lived simply and happily, free from the cares and troubles that afflict them today. This myth usually includes an account of how, through foolishness or malice, the golden age was lost. In Western versions, the blame has been placed upon women – Pandora opening the box and Eve taking the apple.

In the economic history of the developed world, there is one historical episode which might reasonably be regarded as a golden age. Between 1945 and 1973, developed countries in Western Europe, North America and Oceania experienced strong economic growth, combined with minimal levels of unemployment and a sharp decline in inequality. In policy terms. the dominant features of this period were the use of

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The Economic Consequences of Mr Biden

19 days ago

When I agreed to write The Economic Consequences of the Pandemic for Yale UP, with a target date of May 2021 the idea was that it would be a polemic against austerity along the lines of Keynes’ The Economic Consequences of Mr Churchill, and the The Economic Consequences of the Peace [1] . In view of the rapid resurgence of austerity politics after the Global Financial Crisis, about which Henry and I wrote here, it seemed like a safe bet that this would be a hot topic in 2021. Even when Joe Biden won the election, and then the voters of Georgia gave the Dems a wafer-thin Senate majority, it still seemed likely, that we would see, at best, a half-baked “compromise” along the lines of the Republican counter-proposal to the American Recovery Program.

But here we are, a couple of

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Bye Golly, Noddy!

20 days ago

One of the striking features of the Dr Seuss fuss is that most commentators seem to be treating this as something new. No one I’ve read in US commentary on the topic seems to be aware that “Dr Seuss, cancelled” is a shot-for-shot remake of a British drama.

It reminded me immediately of the arguments about golliwogs in Enid Blyton’s Noddy books, which started just about the time (a long, long time ago) I grew out of those books, and moved on to reading such gems as the Famous Five . After a long series of adjustments, turning golliwogs into goblins and so on, the issue was resolved by the reissue, in 2009, of a new canonical series, with no golliwogs. (There’s still controversy about golliwogs in general, but not wrt Noddy).

As is always the case, once you know what to look

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Finkel on getting to zero

21 days ago

Former Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, with whom I worked on the Climate Change Authority a few years back, has a new Quarterly Essay, on Getting to Zero (emissions). Some quick observations

It’s far too generous to the current government. However, it makes sense for Finkel to be diplomatic and diplomacy abhors franknessA comprehensive and readable wrapup of the main issues in managing an orderly transition with the current systemMost notable, Finkel is very cool on nuclear energy and carbon capture, both of which he has discussed sympathetically in the pastIt’s paywalled, but I’ve posted a couple of relevant passages over the fold

Non-starters

When faced with a huge challenge, we should stock our armamentarium with all the tools at our disposal and go into battle

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Monday Message Board

21 days ago

Back again with another Monday Message Board.

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link

http://eepurl.com/dAv6sX You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page
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Sandpit

28 days ago

A new sandpit for long side discussions, conspiracy theories, idees fixes and so on.

To be clear, the sandpit is for regular commenters to pursue points that distract from regular discussion, including conspiracy-theoretic takes on the issues at hand. It’s not meant as a forum for visiting conspiracy theorists, or trolls posing as such.
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Monday Message Board

28 days ago

Back again with another Monday Message Board.

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link

http://eepurl.com/dAv6sX You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page
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Fifty miles of wall

March 9, 2021

That’s the only lasting policy achievement of Trump’s Presidency. But for his brand of grievance politics, losing is winning.
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Monday Message Board

March 8, 2021

Back again with another Monday Message Board.

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link

http://eepurl.com/dAv6sX You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page
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Energy return: ratio or net value (revised)

March 8, 2021

Quite a while back we had a discussion of the idea of Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROEI) as a measure of the viability of solar and wind energy. I did the numbers for solar (including battery backup) and came to the conclusion that EROEI was at least 10 and therefore not a problem.

The issue has come up in an email discussion I’ve been having. Thinking about it, I concluded that using a ratio of energy generated to energy invested is incorrect. As a starting point, I assume that we want to consider energy separately from market goods in general. Producing new energy requires inputs of both energy and market goods (including labour and capital). Think about this example

Technology A uses 1 Mwh of energy input and $180 of market inputs to produce 10 MWh of energy

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Too many choices

March 3, 2021

In the NY Times, Paul Krugman makes the case that too much choice (particularly about retirement investment) can be bad

Ani Guerdjikova and I demonstrate this with lots of algebra
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No point complaining about it, Australia will face carbon levies unless it changes course

February 28, 2021

That’s the headline for a recent article I wrote for The Conversation. I meant to post it earlier, but didn’t get to it. Now that Trump is gone, there’s near-unanimous international support for border adjustments. But our government thinks it can bluster its way past the problem, as it does on domestic issues. And if Labor has any ideas on the issue, I haven’t heard about them.

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Sandpit

February 28, 2021

A new sandpit for long side discussions, conspiracy theories, idees fixes and so on.

To be clear, the sandpit is for regular commenters to pursue points that distract from regular discussion, including conspiracy-theoretic takes on the issues at hand. It’s not meant as a forum for visiting conspiracy theorists, or trolls posing as such.
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Monday Message Board

February 28, 2021

Back again with another Monday Message Board.

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link

http://eepurl.com/dAv6sX You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page
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Gas-fired recovery

February 25, 2021

My submission on the Morrison government’s misconceived energy strategy
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Sandpit

February 22, 2021

A new sandpit for long side discussions, conspiracy theories, idees fixes and so on.

To be clear, the sandpit is for regular commenters to pursue points that distract from regular discussion, including conspiracy-theoretic takes on the issues at hand. It’s not meant as a forum for visiting conspiracy theorists, or trolls posing as such.
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Monday Message Board (on Tuesday)

February 22, 2021

Back again with another Monday Message Board.

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link

http://eepurl.com/dAv6sX You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page
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Why the Texas electricity market failed

February 20, 2021

Update: An expanded version of this post has now been published at Inside Story

By special request from regular commenter James Wimberley (and with some suggestions from him), some thoughts on the failure of the Texas electricity market to deal with unexpected cold weather.

Texas lost power when neighboring states, which also experienced the freeze did not. This is part because it has a mostly separate electricity grid. The Texas Interconnection has been kept separate from the rest of the US grid deliberately, to ensure that it remains under Texas not Federal control. That means that Texas couldn’t draw on electricity from the major power pools, notably the Southwest Power Pool.

The reason Texas was kept separate was so that it could replaced traditional integrated

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Economic lessons of the 20-year armistice

February 18, 2021

Another extract from my book-in-progress, Economic Consequences of the Pandemic

The 20-year armistice from 1919 to 1939 was a period of economic stagnation in Europe, punctuated by crises which had disastrous economic and political effects. And while the US boomed in the 1920s, the Great Depression that began in 1929 caused massive unemployment and suffering which lasted through the 1930s. What lessons can we learn for the present?

The most important is the danger of ‘austerity’ policies based on the perceived need for governments to balance budgets and ‘tighten their belts’. Keynes’ second great polemic, The Economic Consequences of Mr Churchill was a critique of the austerity policies of Winston Churchill, then Chancellor of the Exchequer (equivalent to Treasury

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The 20-year armistice

February 14, 2021

One of the striking discoveries of the Internet age for me is that, no matter how original and idiosyncratic you imagine your thoughts to be, someone else has already thought them[1].

My book-in-progress, The Economic Consequences of the Pandemic is largely about the mistakes made between 1919 and 1939, and what we can learn from them. This period is usually called ‘interwar’, going along with the conventional naming of World War I and World War II, implying two separate conflicts.

I’ve long thought of these conflicts as one long war, with the Cold War that followed as a falling out between the victors. In this context, it struck me that the ‘interwar’ period 1919-39 would better be described as a 20-year armistice.

In formal terms, the Armistice of 1918 was ended by the

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Regular Email News

February 13, 2021

My regular email with news of what I’ve been doing is here.

Signup for this list is here. I also have a mailing list focused on Adani and related issues, to which you can sign up here
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