Sunday , June 16 2019
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Offsetting Behaviour

This New Zealand based economics blog was created by two economists, Eric Crampton and Seamus Hogan. They explore a range of fascinating topics from sports economics to housing and much more. Sharp and easy to follow analysis.

Afternoon roundup

The afternoon's worthies on the closing of a week's worth of browser tabs:Hamish Rutherford explains why, despite Keith Ng's insistence that any mildly clever move in a Google Search that gets you something that somebody didn't want you to see is indeed a hack, the inappropriate use of the term kinda matters. Keith now recommends we use the term cyberbadtouch instead of hack - I like it.  Environmental monitoring and reporting at a few of our Councils could stand improvement. Is there any...

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What else could he say?

Well, turns out I was at Makhlouf's farewell party, in a way. I'd been initially invited to the thing via a Treasury 'Save the Date', then uninvited for obvious reasons after I pointed out, again, the depth of deterioration at Treasury under Makhlouf's watch. The quality of policy advice has dropped substantially, as reported in Treasury's annual reports; the stakeholder surveys show declining confidence, and I think it's due to Secretary Makhlouf's administration having focused on...

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What counts as ‘Moderate’ reliability for Cochrane?

Glenn Boyle prompted me to hit the Cochrane Review's findings around SSB price interventions a bit more closely. If this counts as moderately reliable evidence, well, draw your own conclusions about the weight to put on the stuff they count as low or very low reliability.Here are the three studies they evaluated.Cornelsen 2017. They looked at a 10 pence price hike on SSBs across a chain of UK restaurants. 9% reduction in SSB items sold per customer. While there was a 22% increase in...

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Sweet restrictions

The Science Media Centre asked me for comment on the latest Cochrane Review on interventions around sugar.Reading through the thing, I was struck by the weakness of evidence around a lot of the kinds of things folks here like to demand that the government do.Cochrane rates the certainty of evidence on a scale that runs: very low, low, moderate, high.The interventions with the strongest evidence base around environmental interventions aimed at reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages...

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Barbershop thoughts

I'd be surprised if something like this didn't already exist, but if it doesn't, it'd be a great feature for Spotify (or another of the streaming services).I was sitting in the barber's chair yesterday when something that sounded a lot like Spotify's 80s New Wave collection came on. It was rather good. It was almost what Spotify's Daily Mixes might recommend for me some days. I was mildly proud of myself for finally remembering, two songs later, that the one that had been bugging me was by...

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Due diligence and the Irish Central Bank

Barriers to exit are barriers to entry. If you're going to hire someone to a permanent position, you have to do a lot of due diligence. When I was on faculty at Canterbury, recruitment processes were very thorough as we appointed faculty to permanent positions - the norm in America is appointment to a limited-term position after which a faculty member may progress to tenure. So we tried to be careful. Mistakes could last for a very long time.This morning, Radio New Zealand reported that the...

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Hide the Decline

Back in April, Madison Reidy interviewed Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf about the 2017 Treasury Stakeholder survey. That interview didn't air until this morning; it's here.  I'll do my best to transcribe the relevant bit here. Makhlouf: Sometimes we haven't done a good enough job at engaging with stakeholders so they understand what we're doing and why we're doing it. I'd like to think that if we did that survey today, we'd get a better set of results.Reidy: Shouldn't you be doing...

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The long term rot

Over at The Spinoff, I go through the problems at Treasury I've been chronicling here for some time. Most of this will be familiar to loyal readers, but I do put a couple of new bits in. The Spinoff truncated a couple of bits for length ... I did go on for a while. The shorter form version is here; we have the full one over at our site.   If the Canterbury earthquakes taught us anything, it’s that the immediate response to a disaster is a very different thing from the rebuilding that has...

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Protecting the Privileged

Over at Newsroom ($), I wonder why we extend employment protections designed with vulnerable workers in mind to Chief Executives - and just what the heck does somebody have to do to be fired as a public sector Chief Executive. It used to be the case that the question of firing of public sector chiefs never even came up. Senior civil servants would themselves tender their resignations for catastrophic failures, and Ministers could accept or reject those resignations as appropriate.But when...

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Around the budget traps

Budget lock-up on Thursday was fun. I didn't get to ask Minister Robertson whether he still had confidence in his Treasury Secretary, but it probably would have been rude to ask.  A few bits from me on it over at the Spinoff, our Insights Newsletter, and over in the Stuff newspapers - I think it ran in both the Dom and the Press on Friday. They reversed the headline, but s'all good.The end of my Dom piece: Treasury often undertakes this kind of programme evaluation work, or at least...

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