by Brian Easton

Does Trump’s toying with the US rejoining the TPP mean anything?

What Donald Trump meant by announcing that he wanted the US to rejoin the TPP left everyone a bit baffled. His withdrawal from the original deal was one of his first presidential announcements following an election campaign promise. His opponent, Hillary Clinton, was not an enthusiast either and there were doubts that the US Senate would have passed the agreement.

The history of licensing trusts leads to questions about the importance of communities to us. Will they survive?

There was once a story of the drunk who would roll his way to the voting booth to vote for prohibition. He explained that he supported public ownership of liquor outlets. By voting for prohibition, he opened up the possibility that three years later the vote would be reversed and then they could have  ‘trust control’ – local ownership. Nowadays we do not have that option.

The Government’s new arrangements with the Reserve Bank represent an explicit acknowledgement of a major shift in theoretical underpinnings; whether it makes much change to the Bank’s operations is another matter.

One of the residuals of Rogernomics (neoliberalism) that the Clark-Cullen Government left unfinished was monetary policy. The Ardern-Peters Government seems to have taken on the challenge.

Are we too relaxed about those who promote policy failure?

Some years ago, when universities were still relaxed places committed to teaching, a colleague of mine read a news item to his monetary economics class. It said that the eminent monetarist economist Milton Friedman now recognised his advice to the Chilean Government was quite wrong and he had returned all his consultancy fees.

Environmental pressures have been steadily accumulating. Are we aware of them? Are we responding?

It is claimed that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water which is then slowly brought to a boil, it will not see the danger and will be cooked to death. Apparently the research contradicts the proposition for frogs; I am less sure it is as sanguine for humans.

A retired diplomat’s memoirs lead to pondering on whether Gorbachev ever had a chance?

If you have a nephew or niece thinking of going into the foreign service, give them Gerald McGhie’s Balancing Act: Reflections of a New Zealand Diplomat, which is probably as true an account as it gets, excluding the long periods of tedium between the interesting experiences and excitements. They will be struck how much responsibility a young diplomat can sometimes have

The ease with which independents in the policy networks switch their allegiance when governments or ministers change tells us something about how New Zealand’s wider government system in works.

            And this be law, that I'll maintain until my dying day, sir

            That whatsoever king may reign, Still I'll be the Vicar of Bray, sir.

A new report raises questions about the past and future of the support that we give to those in need.

The Child Poverty Action Group has produced a report, Further Fraying of the Welfare State, describing the ongoing undermining of the welfare safety net under the Key-English National Government.

Can we extend our tax system to make it more suitable for a modern (post-neoliberal) nation?

The economists in the macroeconomic division writing Treasury’s 1984 Post Election Briefing got into a robust argument about the purpose of taxation. Their boss, notorious for his common sense, broke the impasse. The Briefing read ‘the purpose of taxation is to raise revenue for the government’.

How Do Share Markets Work?

As I wrote this in the second week of February, share prices throughout the world were falling. I do not know what will be happening when you read this. I don’t forecast share prices. This sets out how to think about such events.