by Brian Easton

It has been said that figures rule the world. Maybe. I am quite sure that it is figures which show us whether it is being ruled well or badly. Goethe

Despite the hoopla at the time, the 1994 Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) was an extension of the 1989 Public Finance Act (PFA) which set out new standards for the government accounts. The accounts are retrospective describing what has happened. The FRA required each government to set out its intentions. (Its logic is such that the FRA is now incorporated in the PFA.).

How Can New Zealand Deal with a Trade War Between Elephants?

I have thought that economists are especially passionate about international trade because it is an alternative to war. In order to acquire access to resources one does not need to invade, conquer and colonise a country. Voluntary trade is less costly with far fewer deaths.

Another French economist contributes an uncommonly good book.

Not long ago around half my friends were reading Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries and another half Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Few had the time to read both blockbusters.

Hedgehogs thrive in New Zealand, more so than in Eurasia where they come from. Any foxes are in zoos.

The archaic Greek poet Archilochus (680-645BCE?) wrote ‘a fox knows many things, but a hedgehog knows one important thing’ which is, presumably, why they survive.

Was it National-lite or is it a new direction?

According to the Treasury forecasts – which do not differ greatly from those of any other reputable forecasters – the economy is in a sweet spot. Output is expected to grow at about 2.9 percent a year over the next four years and employment about 1.7% p.a. That means a productivity growth of 1.2% p.a..

My new book describes the great postwar Māori migration from the countryside into the cities.

The cover of the book captures its theme. On the back is Whina Cooper with her granddaughter starting out on a lonely dirt road that seems to be going nowhere. The front cover shows the 1975 Land March, which she led,  passing through Auckland.

A powerful social law suggests we often explain or do things the wrong way. This may be particularly true when we try to address Global Warming.

Gilling’s Law, one of the most powerful laws in the social sciences, states that the way you score the game shapes the way it is played.* A simple example is that once rugby was boring with a typical score of 9 to 6 – three penalties to two.

Extract from submission to a Select Committee of Parliament (Social Services and Community Committee).

The proposed Child Poverty Reduction Bill is potentially world leading. However the mechanisms it proposes for the assessment and monitoring of poverty are primitive. As I said to the select committee, they are more like a penny-farthing than a modern mountain bike.

Should the government borrow more, spend more, tax more?

There is an ongoing public argument about the government’s macroeconomics stance. It is largely based on the fragmentary promises of Labour when it is was in opposition, and amounts to, to simplify, whether the government should borrow more. So let us set out the logic.

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.