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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

No point complaining about it, Australia will face carbon levies unless it changes course

2 days ago

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

2 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

2 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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Gas-fired recovery

5 days ago

My submission on the Morrison government’s misconceived energy strategy
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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 (on Tuesday)

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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Why the Texas electricity market failed

10 days ago

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

12 days ago

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

17 days ago

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

17 days ago

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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Hands off the rich?

18 days ago

The idea that we should tax the rich to fund public services and transfers to the poor seems obvious from an egalitarian perspective, at least as long as we are in a society with significantly unequal incomes. But it has been challenged recently by some advocates of Modern Monetary Theory.

[note: The meaning of ‘rich’ is rarely spelt out, and isn’t very helpful. Hardly anyone is willing to admit to being rich, so the discussion tends to focus on a handful of cases like Bill Gates, rather than on people in the top 1 per cent or 10 per cent of the income distribution. So, from now on, I’m going to use the term ‘high-income’ and refer to proposals raising taxes on some subset of the top 10 per cent.]

Over the fold, an extract from my book-in-progress, The Economic Consequences

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How can we reduce inequality in Australia

20 days ago

Late last year, along with Emma Dawson, John Hewson and Angela Jackson, I took part in a discussion for the ABC’s Big Ideas program, hosted by Paul Barclay. It went to air recently. Here’s a link to the podcast[1]

Unfortunately, I don’t have the time/ patience to listen to audio. I also don’t like the sound of my voice on radio – this is true for many people I think. It would be great to have a program that took an audio file and generated text output. A very quick search mostly turned up paid transcription services. Does anyone have any experience with this.

fn1. Is a recording of a radio program a podcast? Can anyone clarify this.
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A whirlpool of speculation around GameStop squeeze

20 days ago

That’s the headline the Canberra Times gave to my article on the implications of the recent short squeezes on Gamestop and AMC . It’s uninformative, but maybe more clickworthy than WallStreetBets and financialised capitalism, the title I gave to the early version posted here. With a bit esprit d’escalier and ignoring word constraints, I’d now go for “You wouldn’t let a bookie manage your home finance, so why let a casino plan our national investment”.

Canberra Times is paywalled, so I’m putting the text over the fold. We should soon resume the standard model where articles are published first in Inside Story (free), then reproduced (with a new headline, natch) in the Canberra Times

What does a fortnight of turbulence in the US sharemarkets tell us about the operation

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Monday Message Board

23 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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Climate conspiracy, classical liberalism and Q-Anon

23 days ago

Writing in Reason magazine, Jacob Sullum laments that “Marjorie Taylor Greene Presents Republicans With a Sadly Familiar Choice Between Blind Loyalty to Trump and a Basic Respect for Reality”.

That’s true. But the choice between in-group loyalty and basic respect for reality was a core problem for the right when Trump was still a Democrat, and propertarians/libertarians/classical liberals were among the most prominent enemies of reality. For decades, they advanced a conspiracy theory in which all the governments in the world, backed up by every major scientific institution, were advancing a fraudulent theory of global warming.

Here’s a pretty typical example from Pat Michaels, then the lead climate authority at Cato, being interviewed on Fox

LEVIN: Let me stop you there.

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WallStreetBets and financialised capitalism

27 days ago

It’s been hard to miss the chaos that’s arisen from a bunch of Reddit users (on sub-reddit WallStreetBets) getting together to squeeze shortsellers on stocks including GameStop and AMC Theatres. Most of the attention has been confined to the stockmarket action, but I was struck by this piece in The Bulwark[1], making the point that the process has enabled AMC to issue high-priced shares, repay debt and thereby stave off impending bankruptcy.

I don’t have a view on whether AMC should go bankrupt or not, but this is the kind of decision about capital allocation that is driven, in large measure by stockmarkets. The efficient markets hypothesis says that stockmarkets do the best possible job of estimating the value of assets, and thereby guides the allocation of capital. In the

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All politics is global

29 days ago

Reading about the recent military coup in Myanmar, I’ve seen the view that Biden’s criticism of the coup is undermined by the fact that the pretext for the coup, a supposedly stolen election, was exactly the same as that raised by Trump and the Republican Party in response to Biden’s 2020 election victory.

There’s a problem in this reasoning which is easy to see, but harder to resolve. It makes intuitive sense to say that the United States should not point fingers at other countries when it has the same problems itself. But it seems strange to say that, having just defeated an attempt to overturn a democratic election in his own country, Biden is in some way disqualified from criticising a similar attempt in Myanmar.

The answer to this question is to recognise that Biden does

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Sandpit

January 31, 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

January 31, 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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Coincidence ?

January 31, 2021

I’ll be appearing (virtually) tomorrow, Monday 1 February to give evidence to the  the House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy’s inquiry on Zali Steggall’s Climate Bills 2020, the core of which is a proposal to set a target of zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. As readers would expected, I’ll be supporting the bill.

At almost exactly the same time, Scott Morrison is going to address the National Press Club, and there are rumours he’s planning an announcement on climate policy. Given the natural human desire to see patterns in the universe, and a little bit of past history[1] it immediately occurred to me that Morrison might announce that the government had decided to commit to 2050 net zero.

Such a decision would make great

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Australia (Act) Day

January 26, 2021

As usual, 26 January has been marked by protests, denunciations of those protests, and further iterations. Even apart from the fact that it marks an invasion, the foundation of a colony that later became one of Australia’s states isn’t much of a basis for a national day.

A logical choice would be the day our Federation came into force. Unfortunately for this idea, our Founders chose 1 Jan 1901. The first day of the 20th century[1] must have seemed like an auspicious choice for a new country, but it ruled out the anniversary as a national day.

The ideal thing would be to fix the problems of our current system with a republican constitution including a treaty with the original owners of our land. That would provide a date really worthy of celebration.

In the meantime, I

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Monday Message Board

January 24, 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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A day of hope

January 24, 2021

That was the headline I suggested for my latest article in Independent Australia. The editors went with the more informative “The Biden Presidency will usher in a time for change and Australia should follow“
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Footnote from, The Economic Consequences of the Pandemic,

January 24, 2021

The requirement that the rate of growth exceeds the rate of interest on government debt may be written algebraically as g > r. Readers of Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century will recall that he places a lot of stress on the opposite formula r > g. What is going on here? The answer, in simple terms, is that Piketty is talking about the rate of return to investment, and more particularly the rate of return earned by high-wealth investors. This rate is as much as 6 percentage points higher than the rate of interest on government bonds. The magnitude of the difference, referred to as the ‘equity premium’ is a long-standing puzzle for economists, with profound implications, which will be discussed below.
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Spooled thread on Biden and bipartisanship

January 18, 2021

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

January 17, 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

January 17, 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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Luck and fate in politics

January 16, 2021

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

January 13, 2021

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 …

January 12, 2021

… 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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