Sunday , October 13 2019
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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

We thought Australian cars were using less fuel. New research shows we were wrong

3 days ago

That’s the self-explanatory headline for my latest piece in The Conversation , written with Robin Smit of Transport Energy/Emission Research (TER), who did the research. It’s another point showing the falsity the Morrison governments claim that Australia can “do its bit” to reduce emissions even as his government does nothing.
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Ban gambling advertising

3 days ago

Lately whenever I watch advertising-funded TV (including SBS), something like a third of the ads are for gambling, and all of these promote gambling in an irresponsible fashion.

In particular, the ads are now primarily for racing and sports betting rather than, as in the past, for lotteries. Decades ago, I did a lot of research into gambling and reached the conclusion that lottery gambling is mostly harmless fun, but that all the other forms (pokies, casinos and sports betting) are pernicious.

The majority of the revenue for these forms of betting comes from a small proportio of heavy gamblers (about 5 per cent of all gamblers, IIRC). These gamblers have lots of problems caused by gambling, ranging from marriage breakdowns to bankruptcy. Not all heavy gamblers appear as

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Talking about sustainable economy tonight: Kenmore

4 days ago

Live in the Kenmore area? Think we could use a more sustainable economy and want to take action locally?   Join us this Thursday Oct 10th, 6:30 for 7pm, at the Kenmore Library when Transition Town Kenmore hosts UQ’s John Quiggin. He’ll give us his big picture take on where things are heading with a  talk on “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren: Why Keynes was wrong in 1930, but might be right today.” Free and open to all.
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The third lesson?

5 days ago

Another review of Economics in Two Lessons has come out. It’s by David Henderson and appears in Regulation, published by the Cato Institute (link to PDF). There’s a blog post with extracts here.

Unsurprisingly, given the source, it’s mainly critical of the analysis, but still has some kind words about the book. This para gives the flavour

Quiggin is a good writer who lays out much of the economics well. His analysis of rent control and price controls in general is a thing of beauty. Along the way, though, he makes small and big mistakes. He also shows by omission that the book, to be complete, badly needs a third lesson, on why government works so badly even when it intervenes in cases where markets work badly.

Tyler Cowen made the same point about a “third lesson” on

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Sandpit

7 days ago

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

7 days ago

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 big yellow grader, yet again

9 days ago

I swore off big yellow grader posts a while back, but I can’t resist. Adani’s head of communications, Kate Campbell, has a piece in the Mackay Mercury (paywalled, but I found it on PressReader) getting stuck into the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).

The article is full of attacks on IEEFAs ties to the Rockefeller Family Foundation and similar lefty groups. But what struck me was the photo, which was supposed to show that Adani had indeed started work.

Readers with long memories will recall that this same picture was posted back in January.

Rather than bagging out IEEFA, perhaps Ms Campbell could organize some new publicity shots, showing how Adani Australia is spending the $2 billion it has supposedly received from its parent company.

In

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Why partisans look at the same planet and see wildly different curvature

10 days ago

At Five Thirty Eight, Maggie Koerth-Baker has yet another article bemoaning the way partisanship biases our views. Apparently, one side, based on eyeballing, thinks the earth is flat, while the other, relying on the views of so-called scientists, or the experience of international air travel, regards it as spherical, or nearly so.

In the past, before the rise of partisanship, we would have agreed on a sensible compromise, such as flat on Sundays, spherical on weekdays, and undetermined on Saturdays. Moreover, there was a mix of views, with plenty of Democratic flat-earthers, and Republican sphericalists.

Of course, there is no way to resolve questions of this kind, but apparently, ““warm contact” between political leaders” will enable us to agree to differ, which would be

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Sandpit

14 days ago

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

14 days ago

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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Subrogation

16 days ago

I always like finding new and useful words. Subrogation is what happens when someone who has suffered harm assigns to their insurer the right to sue the person who caused the harm (or their insurer) for damages.

As suggested in this Law360 article (free 1-week registration required, this will soon be happening in relation to climate change. I mentioned the possibility in this article a few weeks ago (citing Adani and AIG as possible examples), but wasn’t up on the technical details.

In particular, Law360 points to the Liluya vs RWE case, in which a Peruvian farmer is suing Germany’s biggest power company in the German courts, and winning the opening rounds.

Of particular importance is the Carbon Majors Study, which calculates the shares of RWE, and other major

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MMT and the impossible trinity

16 days ago

There’s generally not a lot of common ground between fans of Robert Mundell (the intellectually respectable face of supply side economics) and those of Modern Monetary Theory. Yet in one very important respect, their ideas are two sides of the same coin.

Mundell got his Nobel Memorial Prize, in large measure, for what’s been called the ‘impossible trinity’, namely that a country can’t have all three of a fixed exchange rate, an independent monetary policy and free capital movement.

Turn that round and it says that, if you are willing to give up one of the three, you can have the other two. If we ignore the idea of controlling capital movements completely (limited controls don’t do the job) the trinity becomes a simple two-way choice: fixed exchange rate or independent

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Old men behaving badly (2nd repost)

18 days ago

I first posted this in 2011, and reposted it in 2014. Sadly, nothing changes, except that the old men keep getting stupider and behaving worse.
John Howard’s endorsement of Ian Plimer’s children’s version of his absurd anti-science tract Heaven and Earth has at least one good feature. I can now cut the number of prominent Australian conservatives for whom I have any intellectual respect down from two to one.[1] Howard’s acceptance of anti-science nonsense shows that, for all his ability as a politician, he is, in the end, just another tribalist incapable of thinking for himself. [2]
Although not all the tribal leaders are old men, an old, high-status man like Howard is certainly emblematic of Australian delusionism . Like a lot of old, high status men, he stopped thinking decades

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Cum/ex

20 days ago

Looking for a different story in the business pages of The Guardian, I happened across a headline stating The men who plundered Europe’: bankers on trial for defrauding €447m. That attracted my attention, but the standfirst, in smaller print, was even more startling

Martin Shields and Nick Diable are accused of tax fraud in ‘cum-ex’ scandal worth €60bn that exposes City’s pursuit of profit

For those without a calculator handy, that’s about $A100 billion.

I think of myself as someone who pays attention to the news, but I had missed this entirely. Google reveals essentially no coverage in the main English language media. There’s a short but helpful Wikipedia article and that’s about it. The scandal has been described as the ‘crime of the century’, but it’s just one of many

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Monday Message Board

21 days ago

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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Labor and class, again

21 days ago

Paul Norton has alerted me to a new book by Andrew Thompson, published by rightwng outlet Labor’s Forgotten People: The Triumph of Identity Politics  It appears to be a rehash of Thompson’s Labor Without Class which I reviewed back in 2000 (reprinted over the fold).

The blurb states that “this title is sure to cause a stir within the Labor Party membership”, and I’ll confine my remarks to the title. The idea that the left had an excessive focus on identity politics was popular, and not entirely baseless back around 2000. But it’s been obvious for years that it’s the right that is dominated by identity politics.

More precisely, it’s what might be called “default identity politics”, the idea that “real Australians/Americans/Englishment” are white (more specifically

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Monday Message Board

28 days ago

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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Gujarat breaking with coal

September 13, 2019

The announcement that the Indian state of Gujarat will allow no new thermal coal plants seems like a really big deal.

First up, it’s striking that a state with electricity demand growing at 8-10 per cent a year has concluded that it can meet this demand entirely with renewables. That’s totally contrary to the line pushed by the government and coal lobby here in Australia, suggesting that rapid growth in electricity demand can only be met by coal.

Second, Gujarat is the home ground of both Indian PM Modi and his most notable crony, Gautam Adani. And, it appears, the decision has been motivated in large measure by the disaster that is Adani Power’s Mundra plant. As AECOM, Worley Parsons and many others in Australia can confirm, anyone who deals with Adani has a high risk of

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Sandpit

September 9, 2019

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

September 9, 2019

A day late, but here’s the 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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Passports (crosspost from Crooked Timber)

September 9, 2019

I was looking over this post from 2016, on the consequences of a relatively successful Brexit

I’m finding it hard to see that anything will happen to justify the massive effort involved. The Poles and other EU citizens whose presence was the biggest single justification for Brexit won’t go away. On the contrary, it seems pretty clear that all EU citizens will get permanent residence, even those who arrived after the Brexit vote. Even with a hard Brexit, the benefits of consistency with EU regulations will be overwhelming. The terms of any trade deal with non-EU countries won’t be any better than the existing EU deals and probably worse.

Even symbolically, what’s going to happen? Typically, national independence is marked by a ceremony where the flag of the imperial power is

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Why Labor lost

September 7, 2019

It’s always nice to see evidence that supports your prior beliefs, which is why it’s important to avoid confirmation bias (seeking out confirming evidence, while ignoring or discounting the other kind). Since this ANU study of voters’ choices in the leadup to the May election is, AFAICT the only one to be published so far, I can cite it without fear of this bias.

I’m not usually keen on the excuse that “we lost because we didn’t get our message across”, but in relation to the last election, I said this before the election. Commenting at the halfway point, I said

The first half of the 2019 election campaign was the worst I’ve ever seen, especially relative to the possibility for real debate. Both sides ran continuous attack ads focusing on the opposing leader, playing into the

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The Drum

September 3, 2019

I will be on @ABCthedrum tonight about 5:30, talking about the nuclear grand bargain
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Not everyone likes the grand bargain

September 3, 2019

I’ve been very surprised by the extent to which some commentators on the right have been willing to entertain the idea of a carbon price in return for lifting the ban on nuclear power. I mentioned Aaron Patrick in the Fin yesterday. And today, here’s Adam Creighton at the Oz

Reviving the carbon tax debate is probably anathema for many, but if one were set up correctly, with all the money being returned to taxpayers by way of an annual payment, it would make nuclear power stations more viable and provide a political springboard to abandon the massively inefficient clutter of state and federal renewable energy targets.Carbon dividends for all is a much better sell than a carbon tax on everything

On the other hand, one person from whom I confidently expected unqualified

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Underemployment in Australia

September 2, 2019

I’m working on a revision of a chapter on unemployment (its with Stephen Bell, and the book is the 4th edition of a text called Social Policy in Australia. One of the issues we’ve stressed in previous editions is hidden unemployment, particularly including underemployment.

I haven’t paid much attention to this issue in the last few years, focusing mainly on the set of issues usually tagged as “the future of work”. When I came back to it, I was surprised to find that, even though unemployment has been more or less stable for the last decade, underemployment has risen sharply, and is now at an all-time high of 8 per cent.

The increase is concentrated among 15-24 year olds. I have a few ideas about what might be going on here, but I thought I’d see if readers can point to any

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A nuclear grand bargain ?

September 2, 2019

I wasn’t expecting much of a reaction to my submission to two Parliamentary inquiries into nuclear power, in which I advocated imposing a carbon price (set to rise to $50/tonne over time) and, conditional on this, repealing the existing legislative ban on nuclear power.

Over the weekend, though, I heard that Aaron Patrick of the Fin was asking a few people about it. Given my past history with Patrick, I was expecting a gotcha hatchet job, or worse.

When today’s Fin came out, I was surprised to learn (via Twitter and email, as I don’t subscribe), that the Fin had run not one, but two articles about my submission, both by Patrick. The first that came to my attention was the expected gotcha, focusing on the recommendation to repeal the ban, while softpedalling the carbon price

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Sandpit

September 2, 2019

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

September 2, 2019

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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My latest Adani newsletter

August 27, 2019

Here.

Signup for the list is here. I also have a general mailing list, to which you can sign up here

Hi all,It’s now three months since the election, and two months since Adani got
(what were supposed to be) the final approvals for its Carmichael
mine-rail-port project. In fact, it appears that some approvals, such as
the lease lease on Moray Downs land for the workers camp and airport
haven’t been finalised, though this is supposed to happen soon.
More significantly, Adani has yet to negotiate access to the Queensland
rail network, owned by Aurizon (formerly the publicly owned QR).
Aurizon is coming under pressure from the public, and from large
shareholders, to limit assistance to what is legally required.Despite these remaining delays, the rhetoric we heard from

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Forget the generation gap …

August 27, 2019

… the gulf between rich and poor tells the real story of our times

In the Guardian yesterday, I wrote about why the Grattan Institute’s latest report on wealth differences between generations is really about class conflict and the rise of the patrimonial society.

I did an interview about it with Wendy Harmer and Robbie Buck on ABC Radio Breakfast Sydney. Listen at 2:59:00.
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