Saturday , October 24 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.

The cannabis referendum

I hope that the cannabis referendum passes. It isn't the legislation I'd have written, but it is preferable to prohibition. Last week, The Helen Clark Foundation and the Initiative co-hosted a webinar with The Brookings Institution's John Hudak, author of Marijuana: A Short History, about America's experience with legalisation. You can catch it below.  [embedded content]Public Address's Russell Brown covered the webinar here.There's been a lot of misinformation about what would be allowed...

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Border testing

RNZ's Nine-to-Noon had a decent discussion of rapid antigen testing and its potential in helping to open things up. Paul Simmonds suggests a rapid antigen test at the airport before flying (negative test required for boarding), and another rapid antigen test on landing. Those testing negative both times would be considered cleared.I really like rapid antigen testing. But I'd see it, in first instance, as a complement to managed isolation. We'd learn how effective it is, and whether other...

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Afternoon roundup

The tabs... there are so many of them.A few notes on the closing of the tabs.Tyler Cowen is excellent on herd immunity. Those who urge us not to worry about the virus used to claim that herd immunity would kick in and the virus would burn itself out. Now they tell us not to worry because the death rate has dropped. But herd immunity was supposed to stop case numbers from rising. And even places with lotsa Covid aren't there yet - other than perhaps at San Quenton. Sam Bowman has a neoliberal...

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70%

The 2020 Household Income Statistics are out! Well, I'm not sure when they were released, but they're there in NZ.Stat now. Hit the Incomes tables, then hit "Earnings from Main Wage and Salary Job by Occupation" tab. Median hourly earnings in 2020 are $27.The minimum wage in New Zealand is currently $18.90 per hour.Diving the latter by the former tells me that the minimum wage is now 70% of the median wage. Labour has promised to increase it to $20.We are going into a rather substantial...

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If you’re going to have an ETS, you might as well use it

My column in Newsroom this week wonders what the point of National's policies promoting electric cars might be.The current incarnation of the ETS is much stronger. The cap-and-trade scheme now has an actual cap on total credits and net emissions available in the system: 32 million units are available in the system in 2021, reducing to 30 million in 2025.Previously, the Government capped prices by simply creating new credits at an ETS price of $25 per unit. Now, its cost-containment reserve...

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Even the best case is bad

I'd worried that there's not been nearly enough worst-case thinking around Covid, vaccines, and immunity. Josh Gans points out that even the best case around vaccine development is pretty worrying. Deploying a successful vaccine will take a long time. If you haven't subscribed to his substack newsletter, you're really missing out. This week I will look at vaccines and explain why the awaited for ‘miracle’ won’t be so simple. The reason I want to highlight this is not to get everyone down. If...

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Editing the AI

As far as The Guardian's human editors are concerned, editing work submitted by the GPT-3 engine is easier than editing a lot of what gets submitted by normal human writers.The AI wrote a column telling us not to worry about any plans it might have for world domination. It was fun. Everything after the short sentence "Believe me" was written by the computer. Go have a look. I liked this bit:Some might say that I might desire to become all powerful. Or I might become evil as a result of human...

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MIQ constraints

The MIQ system faces a lot of constraints against scaling up and it's not always easy to tell which constraint is most binding.One of the constraints, as I understand it, is health support around facilities in case of cases that are discovered in isolation. So, suppose you could stand up an isolation facility in a spot that didn't have quite as good access to hospitals and the like. Would you want that facility in the system?I understand that the Ministry of Health has taken a fairly on/off...

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Arizona dreaming

A while back, I'd pointed to the wastewater testing going on at the dorms at the University of Arizona. There, every student heading to the dorms got a Covid test on moving in. The wastewater from each dorm was tested for Covid. When samples from one hall of residence showed up positive, everyone in that building got another Covid test. All the testing is compulsory, because the University aren't idiots. Science Mag had a good but short summary.By testing dorm wastewater for the coronavirus,...

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Civic knowledge

The Initiative commissioned a poll earlier this year, pre-Covid, checking on whether voter knowledge about some basic civics had improved since the last iterations of the New Zealand Election Survey.It hasn't. Our report on it came out this morning; I chatted about it with Duncan Garner, Jenny-May Clarkson, and Mike Hosking.None of the results were particularly surprising for those who pay attention to voter knowledge surveys. The NZ Election Survey regularly finds that roughly half of...

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