Archive for January 2011
Some links that have caught my fancy lately:
- A very funny speech by Kevin Rudd at the Woodford folk festival
- Some cautionary tales about microcredit
- Can pork-barrelling be kosher? (A neat idea, but I wasn’t persuaded)
- My friend Dan Andrews cautions about the impact of cutting UK housing benefits will have on economic growth
- Which places in the US have the highest rate of UFO sightings per capita?
- Christopher Joye takes issue with an AFR piece of mine on inequality, and sparks responses from Matt Cowgill and Club Troppo
- A new paper on top incomes and economic growth (darn those journal publication lags)
- Don Fullerton on distributional effects of environmental policies
- Does stronger party allegiance move voters away from the centre?
- Jonathan Pryke on foreign aid effectiveness
- And lastly, thanks to Steve Blume for alerting me to an interesting Center for American Progress Report that probably influenced Obama’s State of the Union address (but seems to forget Paul Krugman’s warnings about the sloppy thinking inherent in ‘international competitiveness’)
The Treasury’s annual statement on tax expenditures* has just been issued. Here are the biggies:
The largest measured tax expenditures are the concessional capital gains taxation of owner-occupied housing (E4 and E5) which is estimated to provide a benefit to taxpayers of around $40 billion in 2010-11. Together, these tax expenditures represent the exemption of owner-occupied housing from CGT. After the owner-occupied housing exemption, the next largest tax expenditure is the concessional taxation of employer contributions to superannuation (C5) of around $14.3 billion in 2010-11. This is followed by the concessional taxation of superannuation entity earnings (C6) and the GST-free status of food (H28). These tax expenditures are estimated to provide benefits to taxpayers in 2010-11 of around $12.2 billion and $5.9 billion respectively. …There are a number of tax expenditures for which an estimate is not available but which have been assigned an order of magnitude classification (for details refer to Chapter 3). The largest such tax expenditures are as follows: philanthropy — income tax exemption for charitable, religious, scientific, and community service entities (B72); income tax exemption for Commonwealth, State and Territory public authorities, and State and Territory entities (B3); and quarantining of capital losses (E31).
* As the report puts it, “A tax expenditure is a provision of the tax law that provides a benefit to a specified activity or class of taxpayer that is concessional when compared to the ‘normal’ tax treatment that would apply. … Tax expenditures can be provided in many forms, including tax exemptions, tax deductions, tax offsets, concessional tax rates or deferrals of tax liability.”
As a fan of ABC Radio National’s By Design program, I was chuffed on Wednesday to be invited by host Alan Saunders to discuss social capital and the findings of my book “Disconnected”. A podcast is available here.
A few January links:
- The best article on dessert you will ever read (don’t stop before you get to the Messi dish)
- The economics of bail bondsmen
- Are left-wingers more willing to compromise than right-wingers?
- Do scientifically-measured effects decline?
- How much more do New Zealanders earn in the Australian labour market?
- Can taking a test help you learn? (next time I’m faced with an inconvenient finding, I hope I’m as gracious as Howard Gardner)
I’m looking for an office manager, with an ad today in the Canberra Times, The Australian, and on Seek. If you know anyone who might fit the bill, please encourage them to apply by Feb 1.
Dr Andrew Leigh MPMember for Fraser OFFICE MANAGERApplications are invited for the above position based in Canberra.The duties of the positions include: managing a team of four other staff (plus volunteers), community engagement, liaising with government departments, preparing and coordinating correspondence, organising events and meetings.Applicants should possess the following skills and experience:
- Experience in managing a medium-sized team in a high-pressure environment
- Passionate about community engagement
- Hard working and enthusiastic about addressing local issues
- Excellent oral and written communication skills
- Well developed office IT skills
- Extensive understanding of government and parliamentary processesA commencing salary of up to $66,868 will be paid (plus allowances).A probationary period of 3 months will apply.Applications setting out details of experience and the names of two referees should be forwarded to andrew.leigh.mpATaph.gov.auApplications close on 1 February 2011. For further information please contact Shobaz Kandola, acting office manager, on 02 6247 4396.
My previous office manager, Rick Youssef, has alas taken a job with Peter Garrett. So as well as having the chance to work with me and my talented team, I can claim that my alumni place exceedingly well!
If you’re planning to make a submission to our House of Reps inquiry into Indigenous Economic Development in Queensland, you now have an additional three weeks.
Media Release – 21 January 2011
Andrew Leigh, Federal Member for Fraser
Strengthening the not-for-profit sector
Federal Member for Fraser, Andrew Leigh, has welcomed the release of a consultation paper on the design of a new national regulator for the not‑for‑profit sector.
“This is part of the government’s commitment to strengthening the 600,000 or so not-for-profits and community organisations throughout Australia,” said Andrew Leigh.
“It’s about making it easier for not-for-profits to do what they do best – help people.
“We want to reduce red-tape and streamline processes so that the sector can spend more time servicing the needs of our most disadvantaged and vulnerable citizens.
“We want to hear from the sector on their ideas about delivering smarter regulation that reduces the compliance burden while improving transparency and accountability.
“This is the start of the process to deliver a “one-stop shop” regulator and the feedback from the sector while help determine its role, function and design,” concluded Andrew Leigh.
The consultation paper was today released by the Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten and Minister for Social Inclusion Tanya Plibersek.
In releasing the paper Mr Shorten and Ms Plibersek said Treasury will use the consultation paper to seek the views of stakeholders on the goals of national regulation, the scope of national regulation, and the functions and form of a national regulator.
Submissions in response to the paper close on February 25, 2011. The consultation paper is available on the Treasury website at www.treasury.gov.au
MEDIA CONTACT: Shobaz Kandola: 6247 4396
From Tyler Cowen’s The Age of the Infovore, a book about autism, information and economics:
What’s next? We could benefit in further ways by adopting a better and deeper understanding of human neurodiversity. We could have a more practical understanding of the limits of formal education. We could be more skeptical about story-based reasoning and superficially appealing narratives; we also could become more resistant to obnoxious advertising and less bent on senseless revenge. We could understand better how a different mind can be an entertaining mind and perhaps a heroic mind. We could treat minorities, including autistic people, better. We could appreciate new and different forms of music and art, or at least we could be more tolerant of diverging aesthetic tastes. We could become better citizens, more cosmopolitan, more objective about our culture and nation, and better able to appreciate the benefits of the rule of law.
Tyler is also the author of Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist, which I greatly enjoyed.
Gai Brodtmann and I have called on Canberrans to assist flood victims.
Canberrans called to dig deep for flood victims
Member for Canberra, Gai Brodtmann and Member for Fraser, Andrew Leigh today called on Canberrans to stand by the victims of the horrific Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australian floods.
“Canberrans have the highest rate of volunteering in the country, and we are generous contributors to our community and the nation,” said Ms Brodtmann.
“We received overwhelming support from all around the country during the bushfires that raged through the ACT eight years ago.
“I urge Canberrans to volunteer or donate what they can to help the victims of the floods,” said Ms Brodtmann.
The Gillard Government is working closely with the Queensland Government to ensure that Australian Defence Force resources are on call to aid search and rescue efforts in the State.
“Concessional interest rate loans of up to $250,000 and freight subsidies of up to $5,000 have been extended to 23 shires and councils as well as a range of emergency payments available to people affected by the floods,” said Dr Leigh.
“Australians naturally rally together in times of need and adversity. The flood victims in Queensland need our support,” they said.
Secure donations to the Premier’s Flood Appeal can be made online at http://telethon.smartservice.qld.gov.au/ or by credit card on 1800 219 028. Donations can also be made to St Vincent De Paul, the RSPCA, the Salvation Army and the Red Cross.
I’m currently in the US, where I’ve been attending the American Economic Association meetings in Denver (aka “the mile-high city”).
Here’s the full program. A few papers took my fancy:
- Tony Atkinson on welfare economics
- Robert Shiller on economists as worldly philosophers
- Intergenerational transmission of cognitive and non-cognitive abilities
- Iwan Barankay’s randomised experiment on the impact of showing salespeople their relative ranking
- An Indian randomised experiment tests the impact of management consultants (this result surprised me as much as the Barankay paper)
- How access to food stamps helped in-utero babies
- A deathly approach to estimating CEO value
- How financially literate are Americans?
- Grade expectations by university students
A few links that have caught my fancy:
- The high cost of remittances – did you know it costs $39 to transfer $200 from Australia to PNG? (HT: Sinclair Davidson)
- Perverse impacts of tomorrow’s US inheritance tax reinstatement (with a nameless mention of myAustralia study with Joshua Gans)
- McCloskey on humanomics
- Ross Gittins end-of-year speech, courtesy of Peter Martin (I disagree with a few things Ross says, but it’s well worth a read)
- Krugman on Quiggin’s zombies
- Mexican growth (and what it means for China’s long-term future)
- What Australian politicians believe (and know) about climate change
- A US review paper (JEL) on economic issues in climate change mitigation
- The economic value of higher teacher quality
- Low graduation rates at some US colleges (has anyone crunched these data for Australia?)
- The essentials for databases that support US school reform
- Challenges with New York’s use of test scores to evaluate teacher performance
- The Sharehood is working to connect neighbours in Melbourne
- Richard Curtain on cash-on-delivery aid
- When cities provide great data, IT boffins can create great apps (note to my ACT colleagues: can we please make similar data public for Canberra?)
- A new UK cabinet office paper on charitable giving