Brian Easton’s latest Listener column is Reserve Bank to the Rescue, which looks at Alan Bollard and his book Crisis: One Central Bank Governor and the Global Financial Collapse. He considers that “readers will be delighted with the book’s honesty and transparency. It is a damned good read.” But he also notes:
Whereas the book ends, the crisis has not – or rather the international monetary crisis is morphing into a long recession, in which there will be employment and production crises. New Zealand will be unable to avoid the consequences, and the Reserve Bank will remain under pressure managing the economy.
Brian also publishes an index of his recent writings on the Global Financial Crisis.
Colin James has four new pieces this week. The long and the short of “what works” (Fairfax papers) focuses on the “Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act’s quasi-regal powers to override laws through Orders-in-Council, in order to get Canterbury fixed fast”:
The immediate effect of the Canterbury law is necessary quick action. The medium-term effect is assurance of a return to economic and social normality. The long-term risk is damage to freedoms and trust, without which liberal democracy and capitalism don’t work well.
Interestingly, he also also notes in passing a parallel concern about the recent tax cuts:
Take English’s inequality-increasing tax changes. This week they affect your wellbeing (and the budget, at a half-billion-dollar cost through to March). The medium-term effect, English insists, is 1 per cent added to wealth production. The potential long-term effect is that higher inequality, if not offset, may limit potential growth, as in many underperforming economies.
His column for the Otago Daily Times asks Is a new big local government reshuffle in the offing? (“it is logical that the mayors of Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton and Tauranga have been conferring over joint actions and that some local politicians have begun pushing for their own super-regions.”)
In Not cleaning up on clean-tech (Management magazine), Colin reports on differing attitudes within the government towards the environment:
John Key has habitually talked of “balance”, which implies a zero-sum calculation that more environment equals less economic growth and vice-versa.
It’s not quite as simple as that.
. . . [Agriculture Minister David] Carter knows, and Key understands — he did, after all, back Smith in resisting heavy pressure from Business New Zealand and Federated Farmers to delay the emissions trading scheme — that, as some put it, “the new regulators are the big retail chains”.
. . . Dairy farmers who don’t get the message will at some point fall behind the game. Forestry companies are getting to know they have to meet tough international standards to make premium sales. There is now a world water alliance of big companies and NGOs.
[Environment Minister Nick] Smith understands this. In the 1990s National cabinet he and Simon Upton were lone environmentalist voices. In 2002 the Blue Greens National ginger group Smith championed was a minor strand, with three MP members. Now it has 18 MPs and attracts a sizable annual conference.
But it has yet to seriously influence core government policy . . . Bill English is sceptical and has a tight grip on state finances that could fund research and joint projects.
. . . The message so far: if clean-tech is to take off in New Zealand the private sector will have to get there pretty much on its own — or in cahoots with foreigners who see an opportunity to piggy-back on the 100 per cent pure brand.
And, unusually, he has published a ‘random thought’ on the latest Paul Henry débâcle, entitled Real New Zealanders.
Rod Oram’s Star-Times column Failing to keep up with the neighbours looks at funding for universities. His arguments have already attracted criticism from my Education Direction colleague Dave Guerin at ED Blog:
Rod has a tendency to come up with elegant plans for industry and the government to implement to create wealth, which usually involve medium to heavy government intervention and high industry cooperation. I usually don’t agree with them, but at least he makes a strong and cogent argument in their favour. In this case, his argument is very, very weak and he ends with a cheap shot at government that he simply does not establish in his column.
“It’s clear that this government, like its predecessors, understands only the cost not the value of universities. As a result, it is relegating us to a much poorer future.”
Rod might get more traction for his arguments if he treated those with which he disagreed with a little more respect. Suggesting that others only focus on cost, rather than your focus on value, is rather odd after you have spent a whole column arguing for higher inputs, especially salaries, for your own industry.