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Core Economics

Commentary on economics, strategy and more

Last Build Date: Tue, 04 Oct 2016 15:04:53 +0000


In Memoriam Reinhard Selten (1930 – 2016)

Thu, 01 Sep 2016 20:55:09 +0000

German economist extraordinaire Reinhard Selten has died. Born October 1930, he was 85. In 1994 he was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences which he shared with John Harsanyi and John Nash, three quarters of the NASH quartet of Nash, Aumann, Selten, Harsanyi that has been widely credited to have advanced decisively the theory of […]

What she sees at the revolution

Tue, 16 Aug 2016 21:59:18 +0000

Peggy Noonan is a writer and columnist for the WSJ.  Part of her reputation stems from her writing speeches for Reagan and the elder Bush, and for coming up with memorable phrases. Some of these phrases apparently did not work out well for whom she coined them. Read my lips. In a recent WSJ opinion […]

Australian Banks ask for permission to collude against Apple

Wed, 27 Jul 2016 12:45:12 +0000

This news caused me to make a spit-take on my morning coffee. Several of the country’s big banks are seeking to join forces and negotiate as a bloc with technology giant Apple, which could lead to a collective boycott of Apple Pay, in a bid to offer “digital wallets” on the iPhone. Commonwealth Bank, National […]

The NBN needs emergency triage

Mon, 11 Jul 2016 11:16:02 +0000

Now that the election is done and sorted and there isn’t a hung parliament, it is time for Australia to get on to the job of urgent policy-making. There are lots of areas in need of help but I am going to focus here on one close to my heart: broadband. By any measure, broadband […]

Adverse Action Lawyer wanted in Frijters versus UQ case

Mon, 20 Jun 2016 00:16:41 +0000

I am seeking a lawyer to run an Adverse Action case connected to the recent Fair Work Commission verdict that found systematic breaches of procedures and procedural fairness in the University of Queensland’s actions against me following my research on racial attitudes in Brisbane. I first raised these breaches late 2013, but they were never […]

Finally, return to work tax rebates

Sun, 19 Jun 2016 14:38:57 +0000

I have been following the Australian election at a distance and it is amazing how much more policy-centered it is than elections taking place here in North America. There are so many policies it is easy to miss some. Thankfully an alert Twitter follower noticed something familiar about the ALP’s new policy with regard to […]

What the FWC DECISION on Frijters v University of Queensland can teach us

Thu, 09 Jun 2016 01:30:46 +0000

In the wake of the recent academic-freedom cases involving Safe Schools co-founder and academic Roz Ward (here, here, and here) and the journalism academic Martin Hirst, comes the decision that the Fair Work Commission (FWC) posted yesterday in the case of Frijters v University of Queensland. As you may recall I wrote about this deplorable situation more than […]

The benefits and costs of Facebook (and how to maximize surplus for self)

Sun, 05 Jun 2016 05:13:52 +0000

Facey is in the news again. Apparently one of Zuckerberg’s former employees went rogue and told the world that the news that is being streamed and trended is not determined by some “objective” algorithm. Rather the news is curated by a bunch of left-wing Ivy-Leaguers. Shocking news indeed. Who would have thought that a paragon of […]

I already left Australia because of continual idiotic debates like parallel imports

Sat, 21 May 2016 13:05:26 +0000

Magda Szubanksi said she would consider leaving Australia if the Productivity Commission’s recommendations regarding parallel importing of books were to come into place. Leaving aside the notion that leaving Australia would make absolutely no positive difference to her income with or without Australia’s current laws — her core market is still Australians — this is […]

Proposed policy change to HECS-HELP education funding

Mon, 16 May 2016 04:23:15 +0000

In a previous post I outlined a way of thinking about higher education financing that does not break the HECS income contingent loans model and does not break the government’s budget. I proposed a small change to the way things are presently done that seems obvious from a theoretical view point taking into account Universities’ need […]

Proposal for semi-flexible downward sloping demand driven HECS system

Fri, 06 May 2016 02:00:57 +0000

The government has put changes to higher education funding on the back burner. This precaution is prudent since as it happens any changes to the income contingent loan system that we have presently are likely to have consequences that are difficult to anticipate. Basically,  one would need to model the changes to university and student […]

So, is there a crisis? Or is there a crisis of the crisis, or what? On replicability, reproducibility, and other current challenges in the social sciences

Fri, 18 Mar 2016 10:48:42 +0000

As the old adage has it, before it gets better it will get worse. I have previously written about the deepening sense of crisis in economics and psychology (e.g., in The Conversation and in Core Economics Today – here and here and here) Three interesting recent exhibits The last couple of weeks we have seen three interesting additional exhibits: […]

Ten commandments for the social-media demagogue

Fri, 18 Mar 2016 05:44:52 +0000

Ignore facts. Facts are pesky and quaint. They constrain your narrative and might constrain, oh my, your priors. And they might even make it necessary that you provide links. Which might actually be checked. So, don’t go there. If someone brings them (pesky and quaint facts) up, either ignore them and their facts or, if that […]

Slippery slipping standards

Mon, 25 Jan 2016 00:09:49 +0000

Attention has recently been drawn, yet again, to the spectre of falling skills standards in Australia. This time, several commentators from inside and outside academia have picked up on a newly-released report by the Australian Industry group claiming that employers are loudly complaining about their workers’ literacy and numeracy skills. The AIG report contains the results […]

Random observations on China

Sun, 20 Dec 2015 10:38:17 +0000

Warning: This is mostly a personal travelogue, with some generalizations and conjectures thrown in for good measure. A colleague of mine was so kind to comment on a draft and nonchalantly suggested that the title of the piece ought to be “Clueless Westerner hops off a plane and makes many random observations”. So there, I warned you. […]

Why don’t Australian banks support Apple Pay?

Fri, 27 Nov 2015 23:57:01 +0000

Apple Pay is near ubiquitous in the US despite the relative lack of terminals to support them. But in Australia, those terminals are all over the place yet the only card accepted on Apple Pay is American Express; a card not issued by the major banks. Why? For those who don’t know, Apple Pay is […]

Australia after 3 years

Fri, 27 Nov 2015 20:20:17 +0000

I have been back in Australia this past week for the first time in over three years. Here are some brief impressions: The airports are great. Even better than before, Security is no issue (I passed through in 30 seconds) and Canberra airport is now fantastic — world class as they say. Why airline lounges […]

Economics of the war on Australian undergraduates

Thu, 17 Sep 2015 04:33:48 +0000

An issue that has perplexed me over the last few weeks is why do the top universities in Australia continue teaching Australian undergraduates when the fees they get from these undergraduates are far lower than foreign fees. Further, there is no doubt in my mind that given the intense competition for hugely expensive research prestige; […]

Opportunities for innovation in Australia

Sun, 13 Sep 2015 02:25:14 +0000

The Australian startup ecosystem is growing too slowly, but existing firms are becoming more interested in innovation as a source of competitive advantage.

The Education Industry: Why mass deception should not replace the great university

Wed, 02 Sep 2015 15:25:16 +0000

And mass online education cannot replace the lecture I am set to debate Marnie Hughes-Warrington about the future of lectures. Marnie presumably will be advocating the view that the days of the lecture are done.* My view is that undoubtedly, the lecture is an institution within great universities that is here to stay. Further, with […]

Top Trump: The Game theory of the Trump endgame

Sat, 01 Aug 2015 13:59:30 +0000

For those of us outside the US, the Trump entry into the US Presidential race so many months out from the actual election has been entertainment heaven. Sure, he is destroying the fabric of a great nation by bring horrific stereotypes and misinformation to the fore, but sometimes that is the price to pay for […]

The Grexit deal, Varoufakis, and anti-Greek sentiments

Tue, 14 Jul 2015 08:03:20 +0000

The deal yesterday morning between the Greek PM and the Eurozone Finance ministers is an agreement to reform before talks. By tomorrow evening, the Greek parliament has to accept 4 pieces of legislation on a large range of issues (pensions, labour markets, taxation), after which the other 19 Eurozone countries will start negotiations on another […]

Three perspectives on the coming Grexit

Mon, 06 Jul 2015 01:30:26 +0000

The Greek referendum and the hype leading up to it have gone exactly according to my script of 8 days ago, where I predicted a resounding ‘no’ vote and a Grexit to stop the bank-run, with the other European politicians too offended and belittled by Tsipras and Varoufakis to organise another bailout. The Grexit is […]

Why is a Grexit now likely?

Mon, 29 Jun 2015 05:27:20 +0000

Greece owes the IMF 1.6 billion euro that it doesn’t have but is supposed to pay tomorrow. Unless the ECB lends it to the Greeks, effectively converting the IMF debt into an ECB debt, Greece is bankrupt tomorrow. In months to come, much bigger debt repayments are scheduled to the ECB-IMF in tranches of 4 […]

Are we kidding ourselves on competition?

Sat, 18 Apr 2015 13:31:09 +0000

The traditional textbook model of competition in an oligopoly goes likes this. Firms choose prices and other variables (like product quality, advertising and R&D) to maximise their own profits and disregard the impact of their actions on (a) competing firms and (b) consumers; although with the latter since they want them to buy products they […]

Universities, corruption, and standards: It’s not just academic anymore

Fri, 17 Apr 2015 04:52:41 +0000

Australia as a whole seems finally to be taking serious notice of the sorts of trends that some of us academic economists have been rattling the chain about for years in regard to academic standards, university corruption, and international students. ABC Four Corners will be airing a show entitled “Degrees of Deception” on Monday evening that will […]

Many cooks spoil the broth. And that’s just for starters. On the WDR 2015.

Sun, 12 Apr 2015 21:40:59 +0000

World Development Report 2015: Overview: Mind, Society, and Behavior. A World Bank Group Flagship Report. Available at or doi: 10.1596/978-1-4648-0342-0 [What follows are excerpts from a review forthcoming in the Journal of Economic Psychology; full version there or write me … ] The World Development Report 2015 (henceforth, the Report) was launched in December 2014. […]

It’s a snail but it seems to be moving in the right direction: On progress in the experimental social sciences …

Mon, 06 Apr 2015 18:14:10 +0000

I have previously written about the sorry state of the experimental (social) sciences (see here and here). Recent news about publishers having to withdraw (again) scores of papers in the wake of a rigged peer-review process (see here and here) and a flurry of retractions in psytown (e.g., Stapel, Sanna, Smeesters, Foerster; see also the excellent discussions on Rolf Zwaan’s […]

Best practice governance of top academic departments

Thu, 26 Mar 2015 04:05:34 +0000

Over the last 15-20 years academic school meetings have gone from rambling and unstructured brawls to dull “executive infomercials”. The former led to marathon meetings. The current model has led to a middle-management culture that often does not take advantage of the very valuable specialists skills of talented, highly trained (and experienced) scholars in the […]