Author Archives: Brian Easton

The Pharmac Fiasco

If you don’t understand how things work you make foolish mistakes. To explain how the government got into its cancer drugs muddle, we need to explain first how New Zealand’s pharmaceutical purchasing system works. There is a parallel between Pharmac and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. The Government sets the monetary policy framework with…
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What Is Social Investment Analysis?

Evaluating the impact of social policies will be very difficult but the government does not seem to be doing much real evaluation. A couple of terms that have recently become fashionable are ‘cost-benefit analysis’ (CBA) and ‘social-investment analysis’ (SIA), typically proposed by people who have never done either. They sound good but have their limitations….
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Notes on the NZ Material Hardship Measures

Since 2008 Statistics New Zealand has measured material hardship in households with seventeen questions in the Household Economic Survey. This note reports on my brief exploration.[1] The Unit of Measurement The hardship questions are asked of a household and responses are reported on that base. The data reported below is by individuals so a household…
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Coalition Of The Unwilling?

What does Budget 2024 tell us about the current government? Muddle on? Coalition governments are not new. About 50 percent of the time since the first MMP election, there has been a minority government, usually with allied parties holding ministerial portfolios outside cabinets. For 10 percent of the time there was a majority government and…
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The 2024 Budget Forecasts Are Gloomy About The Next Three Years.

There was no less razzamatazz about the 2024 Budget than about earlier ones. Once again the underlying economic analysis got lost. It deserves more attention. Just to remind you, the Budget Economic and Fiscal Update (BEFU), is the Treasury’s independent assessment and so can be analysed by other competent economists (although they may disagree with…
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The Taxpayers’ Union At Eleven

How to run a successful pressure group. In 2013 a group of idealists, led by Jordan Williams and David Farrar, established the Taxpayers’ Union. To celebrate its first decade as surely New Zealand’s most successful political pressure group NZTU published The Mission: The Taxpayers Union at 10, ten short interviews (by David Cohen) of people associated…
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Has Labour Abandoned The Welfare State They Created In 1938?

The 2018 Social Security Act suggests that Labour may have retreated to the minimalist (neo-liberal) welfare state which has developed out of the Richardson-Shipley ‘redesign’. One wonders what Michael Joseph Savage, Peter Fraser and Walter Nash would have thought of the Social Security Act passed by the Ardern Labour Government in 2018. Its principles were…
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Thinking About The Property Rights In Resource Decisions As Well As Transaction Costs.

The Fast-Track Approvals Bill enables cabinet ministers to circumvent key environmental planning and protection processes for infrastructure projects. Its difficulties have been well canvassed. This column suggests a different way of thinking about the proposal. I am going to explore the Bill from the perspective of its proponents with their focus on short-term material output…
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Delivering Equity for Older People in New Zealand

Introductory Notes for Brightstar Seminar: The Delivering Equity for Older People in New Zealand Grand Millennium Hotel, Auckland on Apr 30 & May 1, 2024 Thankyou for the invitation to contribute to this panel. About twenty years ago, Suzie Carson and I were investigating wellbeing via the Household Economic Survey. We got what at first…
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So Much to Do: Dr Sutch on Poverty and Progress

Commentary on Malcolm McKinnon’s Poverty and Progress in New Zealand: thoughts on WB Sutch’s work in historical and intellectual context. Stout Research Centre, 24 April, 2024 When Bill Sutch was first told by his physician that he had advanced terminal cancer, he responded ‘that can’t possibly be true, I have far too much to do’….
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The Case For A Universal Family Benefit

One Could Reduce Child Poverty At No Fiscal Cost Following the Richardson/Shipley 1990 ‘redesign of the welfare state’ – which eliminated the universal Family Benefit and doubled the rate of child poverty – various income supplements for families have been added, the best known being ‘Working for Families’, introduced in 2005. The result of the…
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Accelerating The Growth Rate?

There is a constant theme from the economic commentariat that New Zealand needs to lift its economic growth rate, coupled with policies which they are certain will attain that objective. Their prescriptions are usually characterised by two features. First, they tend to be in their advocate’s self-interest. Second, they are unbacked by any systematic empirical…
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