Ultramarathons and audiobooks go together like sushi and soy sauce. In a big running year, I’ve largely eschewed podcasts for audiobooks. Here’s some of the books I’d recommend. Most are new, but some are merely new to me. Within each category, I’ve mostly put my favourites at the top.
- Claudia Goldin, Career and Family – the winner of this year’s Nobel Prize in Economics writes masterfully about how the world has changed for women across the past century, blending together work and family, and drawing lightly on data and stories to tell the tale.
- Angus Deaton, Economics in America – in the tradition of Alistair Cooke, Angus Deaton has been writing a regular letter for UK economists. This book draws together much of that material, casting light on poverty in the US, the culture of the economics profession, and containing a beautiful tribute to the late Tony Atkinson.
- Matthew Desmond, Poverty, by America – the author of Evicted blends statistics and stories to dive deep into the failure of the world’s richest nation to address the problem of poverty.
- Bradford DeLong, Slouching Towards Utopia – the twentieth century has seen an explosion in material wealth… and inequality. A data-rich account of how the world has changed, and how we might do better still.
- Mariana Mazzucato and Rosie Collington, The Big Con – consulting has its place, but the authors powerfully argue that it’s outgrown it. A book that preceded – and in some sense anticipated – the PwC scandal.
- Bradley Hope & Tom Wright, Billion Dollar Whale – the gobsmacking tale of Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal
- David Graeber, Bullshit Jobs – as an economist, I don’t buy the whole argument, but it’s well worth reading
- Judea Pearl, The Book of Why – this thoughtful discussion of causal inference contains insights for any social scientist involved in analysing data. A little too long, a little too dogmatic in parts – but brilliant nonetheless.
- Greg Berman and Aubrey Fox, Gradual – this compelling argument for gradual reform draws on examples of big reforms that started gradually (US social security). Big bang reforms, the authors argue, rarely work. Besides that, they aren’t what most voters seek.
- Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny – twenty lessons from the twentieth century about how to spot a burgeoning authoritarian, and what citizens can do to prevent the rise of tyranny.
- Paul Kenny, Why Populism? – one of the world’s academic experts in populism explores its troubling rise
- Philip McKibbin, Love Notes: For a Politics of Love – if there’s an antidote to angry populism, it’s the idea of a politics of love. Drawing on examples from Nelson Mandela to Māori culture, New Zealander Philip McKibbin sketches out what a politics of love might look like today.
- Adam Gopnik, Paris to the Moon – a wonderfully witty tale about writing and childrearing in the city of light
- Ari Shapiro – The Best Strangers in the World – so it turns out that Ari isn’t just a storytelling journalist, he’s also a singer for a major band (Pink Martini). Yes, I’m jealous. Yes, the book is fabulous.
2CC CANBERRA AFTERNOONS WITH LEON DELANEY
FRIDAY, 1 DECEMBER 2023
SUBJECTS: Productivity Commission interim report into philanthropy; Reform of tax deductions system for charity donations; House of Representatives Committee Report on Employment Services; Advanced manufacturing policy; Cost-of-living relief in MYEFO.
LEON DELANEY: Well, there's a lot going on in the Federal Parliament at the moment. I think there's only one more sitting week left to go. Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury, Assistant Minister for Employment, and local member for Fenner, Dr Andrew Leigh, good afternoon.
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES, COMPETITION, TREASURY AND EMPLOYMENT ANDREW LEIGH: Good afternoon, Leon. Great to be with you and your listeners.
DELANEY: I've got that right, haven't I? There's one more week to go.
LEIGH: There's a week for the Senate and a day for the House, an extra day to deal with any legislation that gets amended in the upper House.Read more
2023 AUSTRALIAN IMPACT INVESTING AWARDS
Australian Impact Investment Awards, Sydney
Thursday 30 November 2023
Thank you for inviting me to speak to you and join in celebrating the Australian Impact Investing Awards.
As you all know, your work today through impact investing creates vital opportunities to improve the lives of those who are disadvantaged in our community.
For this, I commend you, and congratulate today’s award recipients.
Recently, the Australian Government partnered with the New South Wales Government to trial an innovative homelessness intervention, called Foyer Central.
This trial aims to provide accommodation and support services to young people exiting out of home care, or at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness in Sydney.Read more
COMPETITION AND BUSINESS DYNAMICS
Australia Financial Review CFO Live Summit, Melbourne
Tuesday 28 November 2023
I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet, the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation.
I pay my respects to the Elders past and present, and acknowledge any First Nations Australians with us today.
Australia thrives on competition.
It is most obvious in our love of sports – even unexpected wins like the One Day Cricket World Cup – but it goes deeper than that.
You can’t have a fair go without competition.
Especially when we’re feeling the pinch of the cost-of-living pressures.Read more
ABC RADIO MELBOURNE DRIVE WITH ALI MOORE
MONDAY, 27 NOVEMBER 2023
SUBJECTS: Reform of the RBA; Appointment of a new Deputy Governor of the RBA; Dismissal of Mike Pezzullo.
ALI MOORE: You'll know that review into the Bank's operations that happened earlier this year and it's led to legislation that's now being introduced to Federal Parliament. The legislation is going to create a new board that's going to have the sole job of setting interest rates and the reforms are also going to remove a little known mechanism that allows the government to overrule the Reserve Bank. Also, the Government has announced today the new Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank, a central banker who is going to come from the UK. Andrew Leigh is Assistant Minister for competition, Charities and Treasury. Andrew Leigh welcome to Drive.
ASSISTANT MINSTER FOR CHARITIES, COMPETITION, TREASURY AND EMPLOYMENT ANDREW LEIGH: Thanks, Ali. Great to be with you and your listeners.Read more
AUSTRALIANS URGED TO GIVE GENEROUSLY
Tuesday 28 November is ‘Giving Tuesday’. Created eleven years ago, Giving Tuesday follows the shopping day ‘Black Friday’. Where Black Friday encourages spending, Giving Tuesday encourages generosity.
Right now, many charities are feeling squeezed. In some cases, donors and volunteer support has fallen, while demand for help has risen. The end of the year is a time when some charities, including food relief and crisis support organisations, are at their busiest.Read more
IS SOCIAL MEDIA WORSENING YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH?
LIFELINE AUSTRALIA ANNUAL MEMBERS FORUM
SYDNEY, 24 NOVEMBER 2023
Thank you very much for that generous introduction. Chris Siorokos and I have known one another for 32 years, and he doesn’t look like he’s aged a day since we first met. As well as having the gift of eternal youth, Chris is a man of remarkable intellect, generosity and purpose. You are fortunate to have him as your Executive Director.
We’re meeting on the traditional lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. I acknowledge their Elders, past and present and acknowledge any First Nations people present.
It is a real honour to be speaking to the Lifeline Australia Annual Members Forum in this year, the 60th anniversary of Lifeline. My grandfather, Keith Leigh was a Methodist minister, a bit like Alan Walker, who founded Lifeline back in 1963. I never had the chance to meet my paternal grandfather, but that ethos of service was one that I was very aware of growing up. The story of Alan Walker's founding Lifeline is remarkable. Lifeline Australia took its first telephone call within a minute of the telephone lines opening. It took 100 calls on the first day and it now routinely takes over 1000 calls a day. You've been an inspiration to similar organisations around the world ever since you were profiled in Time magazine back in 1964. Your introduction of a text messaging service and online platforms are absolutely vital. You have saved many Australian lives and brought meaning to many more.
CHARITY IS AT THE HEART OF AUSTRALIA
Across the world, democracy is under pressure. According to one set of experts, the world entered a ‘democratic recession' in 2016 and is yet to recover. Russia, Peru, Turkey and Myanmar are among the nations whose democracy scores have slumped.
While democracy is down, populism is up. According to a recent study, populism is at an all-time high, with more than 25 per cent of nations now governed by populists. Populists tend to erode democratic institutions and undermine economic growth. Fifteen years after populists take power, income per person is 10 per cent lower than it would otherwise have been.
Worst yet, populists make catastrophic risks more likely. Confronting dangers such as nuclear war, bioterrorism, climate change and rogue AI requires mobilising our intellectual powers, strengthening institutions, cooperating internationally and remaining calm. Yet by definition, populists are anti-intellectual, anti-institutional anti-international and anti-calm.
ABC THE MONEY WITH RICHARD AEDY
THURSDAY, 23 NOVEMBER 2023
SUBJECTS: Merger reform.
RICHARD AEDY: Let's start with competition. For consumers, here isn't enough of it. In 17 industries, we have more market concentration than America does. And in a few it's very, very obvious. Four big banks, two big supermarkets, two big airlines. Part of the reason for this is mergers and the way that they've been regulated. The Government wants to change that and has just put out a consultation paper. The Minister for Competition is Andrew Leigh. Minister, thanks for joining us. What is wrong with our merger control regime at the moment?
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES, COMPETITION, TREASURY AND EMPLOYMENT ANDREW LEIGH: Richard, we've seen a big increase in market concentration and a big increase in markups. We've had the lousiest decade of productivity growth in the postwar era, and many people think that that might be because our markets aren't dynamic enough. Pretty much wherever you turn, from banking to baby food to beer, Australian consumers only have a couple of choices. And in that environment where large firms are ruling the roost, I think it's important for us to take a careful look at our merger laws.Read more
SKY AFTERNOONS WITH KIERAN GILBERT
THURSDAY, 23 NOVEMBER 2023
SUBJECTS: Inflation; Capacity Investment Mechanism; Consultations on merger reform.
KIERAN GILBERT: Joining me live in the studio is the assistant Minister for competition, Charities and Treasury. And the assistant Minister for employment, Andrew Leigh. Thanks for your time.
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES, COMPETITION AND TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: Pleasure, Kieran.
GILBERT: Lots to talk about today. Let's start with Julia's report there on the comments by the RBA Governor on homegrown inflation. We're above comparable nations now internationally. Are you hoping that, like the US, like Europe, ours will track down over coming months? That's the hope is it? The anticipation?
LEIGH: That's what we're anticipating, Kieran, and that's certainly what we're seeing. Australian inflation peaked lower and later than other countries, so it makes sense that its trajectory will take a little longer to come back into the target band. Based on forecasts, both the Reserve Bank and Treasury have inflation returning to the target band. Inflation is pernicious. It damages savings, it decreases the incentive to invest. The Reserve Bank even says it can worsen inequality. So, it's important that we get inflation back under control. And on Michele Bullock’s speech, her comments also reflect the very strong employment performance we've seen. We’ve now had 20 months in a row with unemployment below 4%, and of course, 17 of those 20 months have been under this Labor government.Read more