Category Archives: Public policy

Is a plurilateral the ‘way out’ for WTO on agriculture?

Q: under what cir­cum­stances would a crit­i­­cal-mass (CM) pluri­lat­er­al agree­ment on agri­cul­ture be a way “out of the mess” in the WTO agri­cul­ture nego­ti­a­tions? A: any CM pluri­lat­er­al works as a “way out” of the WTO stale­mate where it offers a degree of ben­e­fits to the mem­bers of the pluri­lat­er­al agree­ment such that they were […]

The physical science of climate change

I’m late find­ing this Non­govern­men­tal Inter­na­tion­al Pan­el on Cli­mate Change (NIPCC) report. I include the sum­ma­ry of their find­ings on the phys­i­cal sci­ence here because they accord with my present assess­ment. I would have added only one thing to the recita­tion below. I do not know why the NIPCC omit­ted it. That is: the IPCC’s […]

Statistics for (non-mathematical) trade analysts

I teach a ‘sum­mer inten­sive’ grad­u­ate course in Trade Research Meth­ods at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ade­laide. In five days we cov­er every­thing from the role of evi­dence in pub­lic pol­i­cy to how to write a report that your boss will read (and even under­stand). Most of my stu­dents have no for­mal train­ing in sta­tis­tics (or […]

Evidence-free policy on cars

His Tel­stra term has appar­ent­ly left Zig­gy Switkows­ki with a taste for Gaullist illog­ic. He reck­ons that the absence of a ratio­nale — oth­er than rent-seek­ing — is not fatal to a pol­i­cy that sup­ports a “diverse” indus­tri­al pat­ri­moine. It is very hard to make a con­ven­tion­al busi­ness case for sub­sidi­s­a­tion of (or, more fash­ion­ably, […]

Davos dribbles

What a world of blath­er, the Davos meet­ing must be. The cor­po­rate chat­ter­ing class­es titi­lat­ing them­selves with scary, fuzzy, big-pic­­ture booga­loo. Clever talk and a few good din­ners mus­ing about issues they guess are com­plex, loom­ing, and some­one else’s prob­lem (tomor­row) must con­sole them for the rest of the year when they have to deal […]

That High Court decision

The Prime Min­is­ter is “deeply dis­ap­point­ed” with the deci­sion on the plan to send Christ­mas Island arrivals to Malaysia. Under­stand­able; it’s not a good look for her gov­ern­ment. But is Paul Kel­ly in the Aus­tralian right to argue that the deci­sion was ill-made and an “unjus­ti­fied” inter­fer­ence in for­eign pol­i­cy? This is cer­tain­ly an “intru­sive” […]

Manufacturing dissent

Unit­ed States man­u­fac­tur­ers, like their Aus­tralian coun­ter­parts, are indulging some hyper­bol­ic alarm about their future, but for dif­fer­ent rea­sons. U.S. eco­nom­ic growth seems too anaemic to sup­port demand in the sec­tor; Australia’s eco­nom­ic growth seem to be bypass­ing it. Still, this self-inter­est­ed plea in the NYT from a direc­tor of GE for pub­lic sub­si­dies (“inno­va­tion […]