Monday , November 18 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.

Confusing the Monster-Ometer with the Frog Exaggerator – again

The latest results from the NZ Health Survey are up.And so is Alcohol Healthwatch's take on those stats. They take it all as reason for tightening control on alcohol. Go and have a look at the stats for yourself. For each of a pile of indicators, MoH slices up the data by gender, by age, and by ethnicity. It then says whether the difference between the latest stat and last year's stats, or 2014/15's stats, or the 2011/12 stats for the series that go back that far, are statistically...

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Film subsidies are stupid, a continuing series

So.  The New Zealand government, committed to wellbeing, believing that tax is love, wanting to ensure that every loving tax dollar spent provides the greatest possible increase in wellbeing, and fronting the Christchurch Call to stop harmful speech, has put $243,000 towards a Chinese propaganda film with the tagline "Anyone who offends China, no matter how remote, must be exterminated."Thomas Coughlin has the story over at Stuff: The film was not made directly by the Chinese Government,...

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Semester Abroad Sanctuary

The Chinese University of Hong Kong does not look like a safe place for students.After the Canterbury earthquakes, a lot of universities, both here in NZ and elsewhere, made it really really easy for Canterbury students to do a semester as visiting students.I don't know how many students at the Chinese University of Hong Kong would want a semester abroad in New Zealand. And it could be that the messes there will be over by the time university starts up again in New Zealand.But it could be...

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Campaign finance balloons

I used to spend a bit of time on campaign finance when I taught public choice - the evidence on whether money buys politicians' votes, extent to which campaign expenditure influences outcomes, different models of lobbying activity and the like.  I liked there to note that campaign finance reform is a bit like squeezing on a balloon. Things will always pop back out in other places, and you have to watch for that.Guyon Espiner's found one spot where the balloon has bulged out: A mysterious...

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No pressure

I'd failed to keep up with South Park and have finally caught up with most of the excellent Season 19.  After a Whole Foods opens up, Randy Marsh finds himself charity-shamed for not wanting to add $1 to his purchase to help increasingly dubious causes, then shamed for only adding a dollar.In my reader mailbag, I find the following. It was emailed to parents at one of the Wellington primary schools: November 8, 2019Support Staff Make a Significant Difference For All Our ChildrenI know you...

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Regulatory plumbing and insurance pricing

Insurance pricing winds up a mess when the government leans on insurers to not price insurance fairly.  Minister Robertson last week admonished insurers not to use more granular pricing in ways that would leave some parts of the country uninsured or 'uninsurable'.Currently, people who live in low risk places cross-subsidise people who live in high risk places. This happens explicitly through EQC, which does not risk-base its prices for coverage. But it also happens implicitly when the...

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Illicit markets and Bali Booze

The Herald reprints an Australian story on a couple of tragic deaths in Bali from drinking cocktails that had methanol in them.  The story argues that methanol is likely the result of home distillation. But what the young tourists were experiencing was far from a hangover. They'd consumed a toxic cocktail laced with methanol hidden in their drink.Without taste or smell, the young travellers had no idea what they'd been served at the bar.Methanol, while closely related to ethanol (which is...

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Ice Cream Makes You Happy

An excellent response to a stupid complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority, a ludicrous ruling from the ASA, and a milquetoast response from the manufacturer. First, the stupid complaint about an ad outside a dairy noting "Ice Cream Makes U Happy".  I wonder if E Fowler has ever tasted ice cream. And wouldn't kids who've walked a kilometre from school to the dairy deserve an ice cream?The ASA upheld the complaint. Absolutely absurd, inside-the-asylum stuff: A majority of the...

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Vaccination, compulsion, and paternalism for the lower orders

The National Party has come out in support of encouraging greater vaccination uptake.But it sure isn't the way I'd do it.National's suggested docking the benefits of those on benefit whose kids aren't keeping up with their vaccinations. Some in National have suggested extending that to payments under Working for Families, but that appears more controversial.We can go back to first principles and note that there's a reasonable case for government intervention to encourage vaccination - as I...

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Not an unintended consequence

Remember how Labour was elected on a promise to ban foreign speculators from the NZ housing market, then set legislation that was far far broader than that? Stuff's Susan Edmunds reports on one of the inevitable consequences of that legislation:A UK-born New Zealand permanent resident says he's been cut out of the property market by restrictions on foreign buyers, because his job requires him to spend time overseas.Residential land can now only be sold to people who are citizens or...

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