Post archive – by topic

Entries in economics (32)


Carbon Pricing: It Works, Bitches

In which I create a placard for a rally, appear on Andrew Bolt’s blog, am denigrated by the right, congratulated by the left, and try and explain microeconomics to a lot of people.

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Simple Visual Guide to Internalising Greenhouse Gas Pollution

My contribution to this week’s National Week of Action by the “Say Yes” campaign is the following simplified visual explanation of how a carbon tax/ETS would make the price of products reflect their true (environmental) costs.

Internalising pollution externalities with a carbon price: a simplified visual guide


Robust Response to Climate Change Risk and Uncertainty

The suggestion by sceptics that we should not act on climate change because the science is uncertain is at odds with sensible management of risk and uncertainty.

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Paid Leave Is Just Salary Smoothing

Under current employment law (presumably for most of the western world), it’s possible to have a high nominal salary and little leave but to essentially “buy” more time off by taking unpaid leave. This, however, depends on your employer approving said leave; depending on your employer, this could be difficult.

What if, in your employment contract, you stipulated the right to unpaid leave? One or two weeks per year, say – the idea would be to make it as close to paid leave in treatment as possible, except without actually receiving any money. (Perhaps make it non-accruing between years would make it easier for employers to accept, too.)

The thrust of my idea is to make the concept of unpaid leave more palatable; at the moment I still get the sense that many people (both employers and employees) treat it as something to be avoided, or at least a far worse alternative than paid leave.

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Carbon Pricing 101

Follow me, gentle reader, through some introductory environmental economics as I explain how carbon taxes and ETSs work — and how they differ.

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Give Us Something to Talk About

If you were hoping for some policy debate in federal politics last week, you were wasting your time. Our federal politicians were operating in a content-free zone, with nary the shadow of an intellectual framework in sight.

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Buying Your Way Backstage

Several times when I’ve bought tickets to concerts recently, I’ve noticed that the bands offer “Meet and Greet” packages; these usually cost ~$50 more than just admission to the concert (which is itself ~$50), and get you:

  • Entry to the show via name on doorlist, rather than a ticket
  • Personal Meet and Greet with $_BAND
  • 2 items signed
  • Souvenir tour laminate
  • Official tour poster
  • Priority Entry

From an economist’s perspective, this is a fairly sensible idea: the people who will want these things – colloquially “hardcore” fans – have an increased willingness to pay relative to the rest of the public, and insituting a tiered pricing system is an excellent way for the band to capture more of this willingness to pay in the form of money.

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Donating for Them, Or for Yourself?

Updated on Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 13:56 by Registered CommenterMCJ

Accompanying the Twitter commentary of the Queensland floods (see #QLDfloods) I’ve noticed a number of people writing that they’ll donate $1 every time their message gets “retweeted” (RTed; forwarded, in Twitter, parlance). The first message I saw was from @lilithia. I can’t say for certain whether she started the trend, and once I started looking I found several others – e.g. @AUSteambieberr, @bree_101, @xander85 –, but they all seemed to share two initial characteristics:

  • These were ordinary people
  • The donations were uncapped

The second point, especially, struck me: late last year Daniel Keogh, a science presenter on the ABC, promised to donate $5 to beyondblue(1) for every time he was retweeted (until 10pm), but his offer took off and he ended up with a nominal figure of over $17,000 dollars. That was far above Keogh’s self-imposed limit, but he ended up donating $5000 and the story made it into the papers.

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Second-hand Markets for Used Games

There’s a bit of discussion over at Penny Arcade on the practice of buying used games rather than new ones – views apparently range from “It’s basically piracy” to “It’s legal, why should I care if the developers don’t get my money?”

Here’s my contribution:

Hey Gabe,

I’m an economist as well as a gamer, so a few thoughts from that direction: while a second-hand game purchase doesn’t directly benefit developers, it’s not a 1:1 decrease in sales – I might purchase more new games if I know that I can sell them later (like buying a new car every 10 years when the old one is still drive-able), and/or use the money used from selling old games to buy new games. Cheapskates who wait for used games probably wouldn’t buy new games, anyway – they’re paying with their time (waiting for games to appear on the second-hand market) rather than money. Second-hand games also increase exposure in younger/poorer audiences that later, when they have the money, can go out and buy new original games.

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Dick Smith's Population Puzzle; a Q&A

Whadaya reckon about this whole Dick Smith $1m prize thing? He seems to be after a practical strategy for decoupling economic and physical growth. It’s not like people haven’t been thinking about that already. What are your thoughts?


I see three questions:

 1) Do I agree with Smith’s premise?

 2) Do I agree with his goal?

 3) Do I agree with his methodology of achieving that goal?

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