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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

Monday Message Board

3 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.

I’m now using Substack as a blogging platform, and for my monthly email newsletter. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack. You can also follow me on Mastodon here.

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Some good news from Oz (crosspost from Crooked Timber)

7 days ago

Over the last few years, the Australian and UK Labor/Labour[1] parties, have followed strikingly parallel paths.

A better-than expected result with a relatively progressive platform (Oz 2016, UK 2017)

A demoralizing defeat in 2019, followed by the election of a new more conservative leader (Albanese, Starmer)

Wholesale abandonment of the program

Failure of the rightwing government to handle Covid and other problmes
Because we have elections every three years, Australia is now ahead of the UK and we now have a Labor government led by Anthony Albanese. In its election campaign and its first eighteen months in office, Labor ran on a platform of implementing rightwing policies with better processes and minor tweaks to the most repressive aspects. This is, AFAICT, what can be

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For corporations, greed is good – so how can Australia really tackle price gouging?

10 days ago

My latest piece in The Guardian.

The long-running debate over “price gouging” should have been settled yesterday by the release of a report by Allan Fels, the former chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). The report, commissioned by the ACTU, found that a wide range of Australian industries are characterised by limited competition, giving powerful firms ample scope to extract large profit margins.

Consistent with international evidence, most of the inflation observed in the wake of the pandemic was captured in the form of increased profit margins. Contrary to the dominant economic model – in which inflation begins in the labor market, with higher wages being passed on to prices – the recent inflation has seen wages lag far behind prices. In some

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Sandpit

10 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

10 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.

I’m now using Substack as a blogging platform, and for my monthly email newsletter. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack. You can also follow me on Mastodon here.

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Labor’s fuel-efficiency standards may settle the ute dispute – but there are still hazards on the road

11 days ago

My latest piece in The Conversation, looking at Australia’s belated move to adopt fuel efficiency standards for light vehicles

Australia looks set to adopt fuel-efficiency standards after the Albanese government on Sunday revealed options for the long-awaited policy. The government says the reform would lead to more cars that are cheaper to run, eventually saving Australians about A$1,000 per vehicle each year.

The announcement comes a decade after the Climate Change Authority first proposed such a standard for Australia. The United States has had such a policy since the 1970s and the European Union implemented mandatory standards in 2009.

The Coalition has already sought to stoke fears among tradies and regional voters by claiming Labor’s policy threatens to take utes off

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Irresistible Force meets Immovable Object

16 days ago

I’ll be presenting a talk at the Australasian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society conference. Title Irresistible Force* meets Immovable Object**

* Massive expansion in production of low-cost solar PV

** Entrenched resistance to deployment.

Shorter JQ: Irresistible force will win in the end

Presentation is here
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The end of maritime power

20 days ago

Noah Smith has posted an interesting interview with Sarah Paine who looks at the distinction between maritime powers (in modern history, Britain and the US) and continental powers (everyone else). Paine sees maritime powers as beneficent creators and upholders of a peaceful and rules-based international order

It’s a distinction I’ve discussed in the past, but with very different views. Here’s a full-length response

The maritime/continental distinction is crucial, but not in the way suggested here. The era of maritime dominance is over.

That’s partly because the UK is now negligible as a power, and the US isn’t as dominant as it was.

But it’s mainly because ships are an old technology that hasn’t advanced much over the past century or so, either in commercial or in

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Monday Message Board

January 22, 2024

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.

I’m now using Substack as a blogging platform, and for my monthly email newsletter. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack. You can also follow me on Mastodon here.

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Won’t somebody think of the old people?

January 18, 2024

Continuing my discussion of the recent upsurge in pro-natalism, I want to talk about the idea that, unless birth rates rise, society will face a big problem caring for old people. In this post, I’m going to focus on aged care in the narrow sense, rather than issues like retirement income, which depend crucially on social policy.

Looking at Australian data on location of death, I found that https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/research/classifying-place-death-australian-mortality-statistics”>around 30 per cent of people die in aged care, and that the mean time spent in aged care is around three years, implying an average of one year per person.

Staffing requirements in Australia amount to aroundone full-time staff member per residents. So the “average” Australian requires

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Monday Message Board

January 14, 2024

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.

I’m now using Substack as a blogging platform, and for my monthly email newsletter. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack. You can also follow me on Mastodon here.

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Mute inglorious Miltons

January 12, 2024

This Crooked Timber post on declining population has prompted me to get started on what I plan, in the end, to be a lengthy critique of the pro-natalist position that dominates public debate at the moment. My initial motivation to do this reflected long-standing concerns about human impacts on the environment but I don’t have any particular expertise on that topic, or anything new to say. Instead, I want to address the economic and social issues, making the case that a move to a below-replacement fertility rate is both inevitable and desirable.

I’m going to start with a claim that came up in discussion here and is raised pretty often. The claim is that the more children are born, the greater the chance that some of them will be Mozarts, Einsteins, or Mandelas who will contribute

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Australia’s cost-of-living crisis isn’t about the price of groceries. It’s about wealth distribution

January 11, 2024

In my latest Guardian piece, I argue that, unless we pay attention to the purchasing power of wages, talk about the “cost of living” is like the sound of one hand clapping

The policy debate about the cost of living is among the most confused and confusing in recent memory. All sorts of measures to reduce the cost of living are proposed, then criticised as being potentially inflationary. The argument implies, absurdly, that reducing the cost of living will increase the cost of living.

The issue here is that the “cost of living” is an essentially meaningless concept, rather like the sound of one hand clapping. The problem isn’t the cost of buying goods, but whether our income is sufficient to pay for those goods. For most of us, that means the real (inflation-adjusted) value of

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Monday Message Board

January 8, 2024

A day late, but Monday Message Board is back! Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

I’m now using Substack as a blogging platform, and for my monthly email newsletter. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack. You can also follow me on Mastodon here.

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The gallon loaf

January 6, 2024

I’ve been working a bit on inflation and the highly problematic concept of the ‘cost of living’ (shorter JQ: what matters is the purchasing power of wages, not the cost of some basket of goods). As part of this, I’ve been looking at how particular prices have changed over time, focusing on basics like bread and milk.

One striking thing that I found out is that, until quite late in the 20th century, the standard loaf of bread used to calculate consumer price indexes in Australia weighed 4 pounds (nearly 2kg). That’s about as much as three standard loaves of sliced bread. Asking around, this turns out to be the largest of the standard sizes specified in legislation like the Western Australian Bread Act which was only repealed in 2004, AFAICT.

Going back a century or so further,

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New Year Gifts

January 2, 2024

The New Year has barely started, but the world of academia seems to be back to work, and sending me a variety of gifts, some more welcome than others. Coincidentally or otherwise, it’s also the day I’ve moved to semi-retirement, a half-pay position involving only research and public engagement.

Most welcome surprise: an email telling me I’ve been elected as a Fellow of the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory. In the way academia works, some friendly colleagues must have proposed this, but I had no idea at all

Most culturally clueless: A request for a referee report, due in three weeks. This is January in Australia – only the most vital jobs get done

Most interesting: An invitation to join the editorial board of Econometrics, an MDPI journal in which I have

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Monday Message Board

December 17, 2023

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

I’m now using Substack as a blogging platform, and for my monthly email newsletter. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack. You can also follow me on Mastodon here.

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Half-time for the Albanese government

December 11, 2023

My latest Blogstack

It’s now just over 18 months since the 2022 election, so we are halfway through the the Albanese government’s term. At this point, it looks highly unlikely that the government will be returned with an outright majority, whenever the next election is held. So, it’s worth thinking about the government’s strategy, why it has apparently failed and whether it ever had a chance of success.Even before the 2019 election Albanese was positioning himself to challenge Shorten from the right if Labor did badly in the Longman by-election. That didn’t happen and Labor went into the election with all the opinion polls pointing to anarrow win. When the result turned out to be a narrow loss, the political class took that as an emphatic rejection of Shorten’s ambitious program

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Monday Message Board

December 11, 2023

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

I’m now using Substack as a blogging platform, and for my monthly email newsletter. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack. You can also follow me on Mastodon here.

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Monday Message Board

December 3, 2023

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

I’m now using Substack as a blogging platform, and for my monthly email newsletter. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack. You can also follow me on Mastodon here.

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Presentism and veganism: If I’m wrong, I’m wrong now and forever (crosspost from Substack)

November 27, 2023

Within pretty broad limits[1], I’m an advocate of historical ‘presentism’, that is, assessing past events and actions in the same way as those in the present, and considering history in relation to our present concerns. In particular, that implies viewing enslavers, racists and warmongers in the same light, whether they are active today or died hundreds of years ago.

Protesters pulling down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol, England, during a demonstration organized to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement on June 7, 2020.

William Want/Twitter/AFP

A common objection to this position runs along the lines:

Suppose that at some point in the future, the vast majority of people are vegans. They will judge you in the same way as you judge past

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Monday Message Board

November 26, 2023

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

I’m now using Substack as a blogging platform, and for my monthly email newsletter. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack. You can also follow me on Mastodon here.

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In defence of effective altruism

November 23, 2023

With corrupt crypto king Sam Bankman-Fried as its most prominent representative, the Effective Altruism movement is not particularly popularly these days. And some other people associated with the Effective Altruism movement have bizarre and unappealing ideas. But the worst form of ad hominem argument is “someone bad asserts p, therefore p is bad”[1].

Whether under this name or not, most economic research on both welfare policy and development aid takes the premise of effective altruism for granted. The central premise of effective altruism is simple: if you want to help poor people, give them what they most need. The practical force of this premise arises from a lot of evidence showing that, in general, what poor people need most is money.

(Image generated with DALL-E)

The

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Monday Message Board

November 20, 2023

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

I’m now using Substack as a blogging platform, and for my monthly email newsletter. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack. You can also follow me on Mastodon here.

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Monday Message Board

November 12, 2023

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

I’m now using Substack as a blogging platform, and for my monthly email newsletter. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack. You can also follow me on Mastodon here.

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Armistice Day

November 10, 2023

I’ve been posting on Armistice Day ever since I started this blog back in 2002, arguing against war and lamenting the disaster of the Great War which has cast a shadow over all of our subsequent history, including the terrible wars that afflict the world today. This year, I’m too depressed to say anything more, except to express the hope that peace will come one day.
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