Category Archives: Political Economy & History

The Future Structure of the New Zealand Economy

I was asked by a Spanish journalist the following two questions (particular with attention to a historical perspective): How likely do you see (if at all) a transition from an economy based on primary products towards an economy where digital services exports might play an important part? I would also like to ask about the…
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What the hell happened at Waitangi?

Review in ‘Newsroom’ 9 May, 2023 In 1972, The New Zealand Journal of History published the article “Te Tiriti o Waitangi: Texts and Translations” by Ruth Ross (1920-1982). Its impact continues 50 years later, and is likely to remain significant in another 50 years. It’s one of the most influential pieces of work by a…
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Learnings from The New Zealand Economic History of Shocks

Working Paper for New Zealand Productivity Commission Introduction Unexpected shocks to the New Zealand economy are endemic. The numerous small ones have been dealt with by the local initiatives inherent in the market economy and by common sense. However, there are a few big shocks where national action has been necessary. Sometimes those actions have…
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Presentation for New Zealand Productivity Commission Launch of Inquiry on Economic Resilience

Thursday 24 November The Commission’s report on the seminar is here. It includes the my overheads which accompanied the presentation. Introduction I have been commissioned to prepare a report for the New Zealand Productivity Commission’s inquiry into economic resilience. The purpose of the report is threefold: 1.         to describe how New Zealand has attempted to…
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David Ian Pool: The Father of Aotearoa New Zealand Demography: (22 November 1936 – 28 April 2022)

Waikato Times May 21 2022 The University of Waikato made an inspired choice when it appointed Ian Pool to a chair in sociology in 1978. Strictly, he was not a sociologist. His masters degree had been in geography at the Auckland University College; his 1964 PhD in Demography was at the Australian National University under…
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McCarthy, Woodhouse and The Proposed Redundancy Social Insurance Scheme

This is adapted from a section of book, ‘In Open Seas’, which I am writing. I have published this extract because there has been some ahistoric claims about the characteristics of New Zealand’s public income support system. The 1972 Royal Commission on Social Security (the ‘McCarthy Commission’) pointed out that there was a case for…
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Review of Michael Cullen’s Autobiography

New Zealand International Review November/December 2021 Vol 46, No 6 p.26-7. LABOUR SAVING: A Memoir by Michael Cullen (Allen and Unwin, Auckland, 432pp, $50) In the 40 years since Muldoon’s reign, the predominant form of national political leadership has been a dual premiership in which, broadly, the prime minister manages the politics and the co-premier…
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FRIDAYS WITH JIM

Conversations about our country with Jim Bolger: David Cohen (Massey University Press, Auckland, 287pp, $45.) NZ International Review (September/October 2021) p.29-31 James Brendan Bolger presents a paradox. When he became prime minister, a Tom Scott cartoon presented him as a kind of Forrest Gump; in 2017 he outshone his other three panellists: Helen Clark, Geoffrey…
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A Brief History of the Māori Economy: How Things Change

Presentation to a Statistics New Zealand Seminar, 23 February, 2021. Māori involvement in the economy has been an integral part of New Zealand’s story, even if we ignore the first 500 years when there was only a Māori economy. Unlike many of our histories, Not in Narrow Seas does not. There are about 40,000 words…
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Is The King Above The Law?

While many readers will say ‘the king is certainly not above the law’, not everyone believes that, especially if they are in power. The term ‘democracy’ is complicated and often used misleadingly. For instance, the ‘German Democratic Republic’ (a.k.a. East Germany), which was a part of the Soviet Empire, had one male in four reporting…
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Opening Pandora’s American Box

All nations have shadows; some acknowledge them. For others they shape their image in uncomfortable ways. The staunch Labour supporter was in despair at what her Rogernomics Government was doing. But she finished ‘at least, we got rid of Muldoon’, a response which tells us that then, and today, one’s views of Robert Muldoon, prime…
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Reviews of Not in Narrow Seas

Michael Reddell. ‘Not in Narrow Seas’, Croaking Cassandra, May 30, 2020. Brian Fallow: ‘Progress of NZ Economy Has Been a Rocky Road’ Herald, 20 June 2020. Joan Druett: ‘Not in Narrow Seas’, World of the Written Word. 21 June 2020. Shamubeel Eaqub: ‘Brian Easton Will Now Harrumph’, Newsroom, July 2, 2020 Max Harris: ‘Book Review…
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ECONOMISTS AT WAR: How a Handful of Economists Helped Win and Lose the World Wars: Alan Bollard

New Zealand International Review, January/February 2021 Vol 46, No 1: p.28-29 (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2020, 321pp, £20) The outcome of a long war is usually determined by the economic strength of the combatants. But how to present this in a lively and interesting way — battles are so much more engaging? Alan Bollard successfully…
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