The most recent Listener article online from Brian Easton is China or Bust: “The Chinese economy is trying to drag the rest of the world out of this great recession. But isn’t it vulnerable to a financial crisis, too?”
Easton has also released a very timely paper entitled Taxing Harmful Drinking:
This paper argues that the harm from the consumption of alcohol can be reduced by targeting the minimum of price of alcohol, but by using an excise drawback rather than setting a minimum price of alcohol. By doing so the profits from the price hike goes to the public exchequer rather than the industry.
This means “those purchasing cheaper absolute alcohol will pay more excise duty on their absolute alcohol than those who are purchasing more expensive liquor”. Sounds a bit regressive to me (though Easton pre-emptively dismisses that as a “cheap shot”).
In Business as usual is not coming back (Otago Daily Times), Colin James declares:
There is no way back to the way things were. Too much has changed — in fact, was changing underneath well before the financial crash.
Those changes are technological — digital technology has accelerated globalisation in all its forms and is altering social interaction — geo-economic — China’s rise and the North Atlantic countries’ subsidence into debt — and geopolitical — rearrangement of international institutions to reflect the transit of economic power and consequential strategic rebalancing.
These huge changes are reshaping our society and economy and that in turn is changing the underlying factors in policymaking.
In this context, he is generous towards National’s efforts to adapt, but also praises Labour:
Labour is edging towards a restatement of economic approach to reflect some of the post-crash writing by the likes of Joseph Stiglitz, Dani Rodrik and Robert Skidelsky. Thanks to the energetic Clare Curran who this coming Saturday is running a day-long workshop on open government and its policy implications, Labour is getting a grasp of the implications of the digital technology age.
James’s column for the Fairfax papers is The small and the big and the Bill of Rights, which argues that Rodney Hide is a more serious figure than he’s given credit for, especially when it comes to regulatory and local government reform, where his changes ”amount to small-c constitutional change”; and that the Bill of Rights “has had much more influence on Parliament and the courts than expected in 1990″.
Rod Oram’s Star-Times column is Super city debate overlooks wealth. It draws on the ideas of Philip McCann (who I’ve discussed before and will come back to soon) and argues:
To help it connect with the world, New Zealand must have a truly international city.
Auckland is the only candidate. But Auckland will always be too small to achieve that on its own. Even when, 20 years from now, its population is 2 million, overseas competitors will continue to dwarf it. Sydney’s population is already as big as New Zealand’s.
So we need a radical rethink, one that engages all of urban New Zealand in the quest to build a truly international, but distinctly Kiwi, urban offering to the world. We are, after all, one of the most urbanised nations on the planet.
Oram also talks to Nine to Noon about how four of our major companies (Telecom, Kiwibank, Graeme Hart’s Pactiv and Fletcher Building) are performing, with an emphasis on their strategies (and a digression on broadbank policy).
If you’ve read other insightful pieces of commentary this week, particularly from a progressive perspective, let us know about it in the comments thread below.