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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

Spooled thread on Biden and bipartisanship

7 days ago

Amateur political analysis ahead. What are the chances for bipartisanship under Biden. Roughly speaking, that means whose votes would he need to get to 60 in the Senate, requiring 10 Republicans

Repubs who have voted with Trump less than 75 per cent of the timeCollinsPaulMurkowskiLeeRomneyOf these, Paul and Lee have dissented mostly from the right

Next 5MoranYoungDainsScottSasseScott voted to overturn the election

Next 5Toomey, Graham, Johnson, Hawley (!), LankfordNeed I say more

Source

Note: I excluded far-right Senator Lummins, who took her seat two weeks ago, and has cast hardly any votes
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Sandpit

8 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

8 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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Luck and fate in politics

9 days ago

There’s a lot of luck[1] in politics. If a handful of events had gone differently in 2016, we’d probably be discussing President Clinton’s second term right now. If the Brexit referendum had been held a few weeks earlier, Remain would probably have won, and David Cameron might still be PM. A few lucky breaks and Labor would have won the 2019 Australian election. And if things had gone slightly differently in Georgia (with the Repubs falling just short in the first round, then losing both runoffs), the prospects for a Biden Administration would be greatly worse than they are.

The first three of these events were unexpected wins for the Trumpist right. And while nobody much pays attention to Australia, the first two were interpreted by Trumpists as much more than lucky breaks. They

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The four horsemen of the pandemic

12 days ago

That’s the headline[1] for my latest piece in the Canberra Times. It doesn’t appear to be paywalled, but I’m including the text over the fold.

The 1918–19 pandemic has more to teach us about the biggest challenge we face, says JOHN QUIGGIN

We are all familiar with images of mud and death in the trenches of the First World War. But it’s only over the past year that many of us have seen photos of the influenza pandemic that raged during the last year of the war and on into 1919. Foreshadowing our own time, they show wards full of sick and dying patients, masked nurses, police and ordinary citizens, and even anti-mask protestors.

The Great War (as it was then called) directly caused the deaths of between fifteen and twenty-two million people, about half of whom

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74 million Americans …

13 days ago

… voted for someone who immediately attempted to overturn the election and promote an insurrection. Either they made a terrible mistake or they are complicit in his actions. Impeachment will force them to decide between these two. That could turn out badly.

The alternative is to let them keep the illusion that they are good people who made a reasonable choice last November. I can’t see how that could possibly turn out other than badly.
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Monday Message Board

15 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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A pretty dodgy article …

15 days ago

… from Peter Collignon on Sydney outbreak Among the problems:

The text doesn’t mention mask mandates at all, and captioned photo implies that government initiated this measure rather than being pushed into it, after failure to require them led to Berala cluster (at least according to AMA)Collignon claims that “many prominent individuals” demanded a total lockdown. One link is to Norman Swan, who did suggest it. The other is to Raina McIntyre who said a short lockdown might be necessary if case numbers rose. Opposes border closures while claiming Victorian response as a successThere’s no discussion of SCG test, which may still turn out badly, despite original superspreader plans being wound back under pressurePremature triumphalism given that cases and venues of concern keep on

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Planning for pandemics (repeat repost from 2005)

20 days ago

Vaccinations against Covid-19 have started in many countries. In lots of places, it’s been a chaotic mess but Israel has already vaccinated 10 per cent of its population. Meanwhile, in Australia we not only have to wait for an approval process, but for a lengthy planning period to manage such an exercise. I’m not a public health expert, but I could see the need for such a capability 15 years ago (see post below). How can we have missed the boat so badly on this?

(Repost)
The news of deaths from bird flu in Indonesia is pretty scary. Although, as I’ve mentioned recently Indonesia has made a lot of progress in many respects, the handling of this threat so far seems to show the worst of both worlds: all the ill ffects of authoritian habits combined with the timidity of weak

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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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After the pandemic, let’s not keep families separated by borders

22 days ago

That’s the headline for a piece that ran in the Canberra Times on New Years’ Eve, looking at the way borders separate families for serious reasons (like controlling the pandemic) and for frivolous ones (for example, because of spurious claims about the effect of migration on wages, or because people are uncomfortable about a changing population).

Like most Australians, my wife and I have spent much of 2020 unable to visit family and loved ones. International borders closed first, cutting us off from our newly married US-based son and his wife. That was soon followed by the closure of state borders, and even the imposition of borders within states, narrowing our family circle to two.

Reopenings have allowed some travel, of course, but always with the fear that we might be

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Public debt after the pandemic

26 days ago

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

Over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, governments around the world have issued huge amounts of public debt, much of which has been purchased by central banks. In the US, for example, Federal public debt increased by $3 trillion over the course of 2020 (this is about 15 per cent of US national income)

while the monetary base (money created directly by the Federal Reserve) increased by around $1.6 trillion. This money was used to buy government bonds along with corporate securities in open market operations (what is now called Quantitative Easing)

These policies represent a complete repudiation of assumptions which were considered unquestionable by the political class until relatively

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Monday Message Board (a day late)

27 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

29 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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Merry Christmas …

December 25, 2020

…. to all who celebrate it.

And to everyone, peace, love and a better year in 2021
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Scarcity and plenty

December 23, 2020

[Warning: half-formed thoughts ahead]One of the most striking characteristics of the 21st century economy (divided into goods, human contact services and information) is that even very poor people have access to information-based services that were almost unimaginable 30 years ago. Given free wifi and a second-hand phone, someone lining up at a food bank can blog about the experience, and possibly attract readers all around the world[1]. Or they can entertain themselves with an endless supply of free books, news media, music and videos. That’s great, but it doesn’t change the fact that people in both rich and poor countries are going hungry.

Economics has traditionally been about scarcity. But now we have one part of the economy where scarcity remains dominant, and another,

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The 21st century economy

December 21, 2020

Last year, getting started on my book I posted some facts and claims about the 21st economy. The key points (slightly elaborated)

(1) Most economic activity in the 20th century, including ‘primary’ industries like agriculture and mining and services such as wholesale and retail trade, was fairly directly related to the production and distribution of manufactured goods

(2) This is no longer true: around half of all employment is now related to human services, information services and finance, and these are at most indirectly related to goods production.On the basis of (1), the 20th century economy could properly be described as ‘industrial’. The economy of the early 21st century is harder to classify. Information technology and communications play a central role in the economy

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Monday Message Board

December 20, 2020

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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China’s grievances, for anyone to read

December 18, 2020

A few weeks ago, the Chinese embassy leaked a list of grievances against the Australian government to the Nine Newspapers. I’ve seen lots of references to items in the list, but searching for the whole thing produces very little. It turns out that Nine published an image of the list, but did not convert it into text, and no other media organization appears to have bothered to do so. In the interests of producing an accessible document, I spent the five minutes required to do this.

Here’s the list

— foreign investment decisions, with acquisitions blocked on opaque national security grounds in contravention of ChAFTA/since 2018, more than 10 Chinese investment projects have been rejected by Australia citing ambiguous and unfounded “national security concerns” and putting

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Fighting on two fronts, and losing on both

December 17, 2020

My latest piece in Inside Story, and also the Canberra Times, is headlined Punching above our weight looks like getting us knocked out (CT slightly varied). The key point is that having picked a fight with China, the government is alienating potential allies through its climate donothingism. Key para

Australia is a lightweight, and we are fighting out of our class. If we want to succeed on issues like our trade dispute with China, we can’t afford to poke our potential allies in the eye by suggesting, as Scott Morrison has repeatedly, that our climate policy will be determined by our own national interests and not by our obligations to the rest of the world.

That point has been illustrated again by an article in the New York Times on China’s boycott of Australian coal. The

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Ergodicity economics and rank-dependent utility

December 13, 2020

Slightly behind the pack, it seems, I’ve suddenly started hearing about “ergodicity economics”, presented as an alternative to expected utility (EU) theory. Commenter James asked me about it here, and I also received from a colleague a copy of a paper in Nature, by Ole Peters, who appears to be the main developer of this idea. The essential idea of ergodicity is that the long-run distribution of outcomes for a dynamic process should match the uncertainty of the process at any point in time. You can get something more precise in Wikipedia. Expected utility starts with preferences over uncertainty at a point in time. Peters argues that things are better understood in terms of evolution over time. I haven’t followed all of the details of this argument as yet.

What piqued my

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Trumpism and crony capitalism

December 11, 2020

Some tentative thoughts, for a chapter I’m writing about the decline of neoliberalism, and the crony capitalism I see as replacing it (unless we can achieve a leftwing alternative)

An important difference between Trumpism[1] and neoliberalism (in both hard and soft variants) is that Trumpism is associated with crony capitalism, rather than global corporations and finance. This is obscured to some extent by shared interest in corporate tax cuts and deregulation. But it’s a clear pattern,exemplified by Erdogan, Modi, Orban and Putin (search “X + crony” for illustration). Why is this? The core appeal of US Trumpism is a negative kind of identity politics, reaffirming the rightful dominance of the “unmarked category”, or default identity, that is assumed when a term like “real

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Victoria’s electric vehicle tax and the theory of the second-best

December 10, 2020

That’s the title of my latest piece in The Conversation. Key para

Just as much (or more than) the owners of electric vehicles, the owners of conventional vehicles pay a mere fraction of what they should. Increasing what the owners of electric-powered vehicles pay is a second-best solution that might move us further away from first best.
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Synopsis

December 9, 2020

As was the case with Economics in Two Lessons, I’ve been struggling with the material for my book-in-progress, The Economic Consequences of the Pandemic. But I’ve now managed to put together a synopsis I can work with. I’d very much appreciate comments, including but not limited to: topics I should be covering; issues raised by the brief summaries; and useful references. Thanks for comments so far, and thanks in advance for more.
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Is nuclear power the answer

December 7, 2020

The last (I hope) extract from the climate change chapter of Economic Consequences of the Pandemic. I’m in two minds about whether this is really needed. The group of pro-nuclear environmentalists seems to be shrinking towards a hard core who can’t be convinced (and some of them, like Shellenberger turn out to have been concern trolls all along). But every now and then I run across people who seem open-minded enough, but haven’t caught up with the bad news on nuclear.

Debates about decarbonizing electricity generation inevitably raise the issue of nuclear power. Since nuclear power generates no carbon dioxide emissions (except in the construction phase) it is a potential solution to climate change, with a strong body of advocates.

Some of this advocacy may be dismissed as

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Sandpit

December 6, 2020

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.
Like this:Like Loading…

Read More »

Monday Message Board

December 6, 2020

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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The full-court press

December 6, 2020

Another excerpt from the climate chapter of my book-in-progress, Economic Consequences of the Pandemic. Comments, constructive criticism and compliments all appreciated.

Economists have long been enamoured of simple and universal solutions to the problem of greenhouse gases emissions. The key to these solutions is imposing a price on emissions, through a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme. With a carbon tax, firms are required to pay a fixed price for each ton of carbon they emit. In an emissions trading scheme, firms are required to use a permit for each ton of carbon they emit. The permits are initially auctioned, and can then be bought and sold, so that the price is determined by the cost of reducing emissions.

The appeal of a carbon price is that it does not

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A zombie loan proposal re-emerges

December 5, 2020

2020 has not been a good year for thermal coal. Trends that were already underway have accelerated as a result of the pandemic. As the energy source with the highest marginal cost of operation coal has borne the brunt of reductions in electricity demand. As a result, planned closures have been brought forward, and new closures announced.

Financial institutions have announced ever more stringent divestiture policies, making new coal mines and coal-fired power stations increasingly uninsurable and unbankable. Insurance premiums for new and existing coal projects have risen https://www.eceee.org/all-news/news/news-2020/while-coal-premiums-soar-insurance-groups-still-supports-oil-and-gas/

National governments including tmajor coal consumers like China, South Korea and Japan have

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