Friday , April 10 2020
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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.

IRD and the OIA

This one has been dragging on for a while, but it's coming to a rather nice resolution.Recall that, rather some time ago, I'd made an OIA request of Inland Revenue for the data that they had collected on tax attitudes. IRD was under fire for what was considered to be partisan polling. I'd never considered it to have been partisan; tax attitudes and how they align with political party affiliation is interesting for both the tax department and more generally.So I figured that IRD's best move...

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Quarantine leave

I'm more of a sceptic about generalised bailouts during the coming downturn. But there is a good case for support for quarantined workers.In short, staying home when you're at risk of infecting others is a public good. If you're on unpaid leave because sick leave doesn't cover when you're not actually sick and you're out of annual leave, you'll have incentive to show up at work regardless of a stay-home notice. If your employer bears costs if you're out for a couple of weeks when you're...

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Kiwisaver divestments

I really wish there were some way to leave Kiwisaver. The government's proposed changes to it introduce political risk I find to be entirely too great.And, it's for something basically futile: trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by divestment.I go through it in last week's print NBR; an ungated version should be on our website tomorrow is here.Some snippets: The government has crossed a bright-line rule in its proposed changes to Kiwisaver.Its proposal to require default funds to...

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The coming Covid-crisis

Oliver Hartwich, at Newsroom ($), on the consequences of Covid-19 for the Eurozone. This stuff really is Oliver's beat.  To start with a disclaimer, I am not a medical expert. I have no degree in epidemiology, nor can I claim any expertise in public health management.In these difficult times, it is perhaps useful to lay one’s qualifications on the table. There is too much misinformation about the medical aspects of the virus out there. Worse than that, when even the experts contradict each...

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An Air Travel Lemons Problem

I wonder whether allowing airports and gate agents to deny entry and travel to those ticket-holders who are coughing and sneezing all over the place could prevent a pretty nasty lemons problem.Specify that risk aversion about contagious disease correlates with riskiness: the risk averse are more likely to take actions that prevent their being infectious. They'll wash their hands more regularly. They'll be careful about coughs and the like. And they'll be a bit quicker than others to avoid...

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RNZ and the damage done

Last spring, Radio New Zealand engaged in a lot of scaremongering about vaping.  Whether it was deliberate, or whether it was due to hurried journalists relying on bad reporting by the CDC, who knows. Probably the latter, but that they refused to consider contrary evidence may suggest the former.But RNZ's reporting would have left Kiwis with the distinct impression that regular nicotine vaping in the United States was causing fatalities. Those fatalities were really due to use of...

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Rights to Housing

The United Nations' special rapporteur told us that there exists a right to housing, and that New Zealand is violating it.  She went on to recommend the kinds of things that are utterly useless in increasing housing supply: more rules on landlords, capital gains taxes and the like.The whole concept is ludicrous. A right to housing, taken as a positive right, implies an obligation on someone to provide it. And why would you even start there when government so regularly violates basic...

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The flu normal?

Over at Newsroom (drafted before the first case here was confirmed), I worry about what happens if Covid-19 isn't a one-off but a new normal with a regular season, like the flu season, that comes each year. Policy designed around a one-off might be different than policy designed around something that will recur annually and that will require annual preventative measures.In both cases, measures to reduce the peak load will save a lot of lives: New Zealand's health system is too easily...

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Testing scarcity

There could be a good explanation for this; it would be nice if the government would explain precisely what that explanation is.  People with coronavirus-type symptoms are reportedly being turned away from testing at Wellington Hospital because they don't fit strict criteria.As the Government awaits the results of two more people "highly suspicious" of having the virus, a senior Wellington Hospital doctor has told Stuff, under the condition of anonymity, that tests for Covid-19 were being...

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The budget fiasco

From the Inquiry's findings into the Treasury budget leak: 33. The Inquiry considers the senior leadership did not actively consider or promote a view of the Treasury’s appropriate obligations in relation to the production of Budget information. The organisation has faced ever increasing demands for greater volume and more complex Budget products. This resulted in: a. Managers and teams feeling they had no option but to deliver whatever was requested of them, irrespective of the impact on...

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