Category Archives: Policy

Nothing to see here

Is there any point in con­tin­u­ing to puz­zle over trade pol­i­cy and agree­ments? Do they real­ly make any dif­fer­ence to any­thing? It seems they’ve become too hard to put togeth­er; but does that mat­ter? Since about 2001, I’ve been writ­ing a weblog analysing inter­na­tion­al trade agree­ments, nation­al trade poli­cies and the post-WWII “sys­tem” of gov­ern­ment […]

GE models and Grand Theft Auto

Mak­ing good eco­nom­ic pol­i­cy is nev­er a sim­ple mat­ter and is nev­er mere­ly a func­tion of eco­nom­ic under­stand­ing. But the art has been bad­ly served, recent­ly, by it tech­ni­cians. John Kay blames the self-lim­it­ing obses­sions of tech­ni­cal macro-eco­nom­ics and finan­cial analy­sis. For many peo­ple, deduc­tive rea­son­ing is the mark of sci­ence: induction—in which the argu­ment […]

The triviality of “patented” design

Apple Inc has tem­porar­i­ly pre­vent­ed Sam­sung from sell­ing a com­pet­i­tive tablet com­put­er in Aus­tralia and Europe on the basis of a claimed “patent­ed” design. Sam­sung says that there is no inno­va­tion that deserves pro­tec­tion in the shape and form of the Apple tablet. They point out that there are many prece­dents, includ­ing in a scene […]

Zoellick on China’s choices

A dis­cur­sive account by Greg Sheri­dan in The Aus­tralian of a con­ver­sa­tion with World Bank Pres­i­dent Robert Zoel­lick on, among oth­er things, China’s devel­op­ment conun­drum and the growth of emerg­ing economies as an anti­dote to pes­simism. Zoel­lick has a team of World Bank econ­o­mists work­ing close­ly with the Chi­nese lead­er­ship to help them move on […]

China faces an historic choice

Their cus­tomers’ economies tee­ter­ing on the edge of what may be a pro­longed peri­od of low-growth sig­nals that the time has arrived for Chi­na to accel­er­ate a long-forseen tran­si­tion in its own growth strat­e­gy; from export-demand dri­ven to domes­tic-demand dri­ven. But can the Bei­jing lead­er­ship do it? Now? Does it have the pol­i­cy flex­i­bil­i­ty that […]

Professional services reform in Italy

The Berlus­coni gov­ern­ment has announced a pack­age of emer­gency mea­sures to lib­er­al­ize the Ital­ian econ­o­my that includes a “con­sti­tu­tion­al” change to speed up the lib­er­al­i­sa­tion of pro­fes­sion­al ser­vices. The mea­sures includ­ed a plan to amend the con­sti­tu­tion to make a bal­anced bud­get manda­to­ry, a sec­ond con­sti­tu­tion­al change that would force “closed pro­fes­sions” to lib­er­alise ser­vices, […]

Why shoot elephants?

It’s the most effec­tive way to kill them. Any game-keep­­er will tell you that. Just as any econ­o­mist will tell you that the most effec­tive way to con­trol obnox­ious behav­iour, like pol­lut­ing the riv­er, or just unde­sir­able behav­iour, like dri­ving your car into the city, is to tax it. Are there alter­na­tives to shoot­ing? Yes, […]