After haranguing TVHE’s Rauparaha at the recent NZAE conference for TVHE’s lack of recent activity, Rauparaha has shamed me by posting about the conference while I have been a.w.o.l. from blogging. So here, belatedly, is a report.
As a member of the organising committee, I can’t pretend to be an unbiased commentator on the quality of the conference, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and I hope others did too. I found that the range and quality of papers was very high. Maybe the incentive effects of having some $6,500 of prizes for best papers and posters to give away is having some effect. The downside is that there were many cases where I would have liked to have been in two places at once. Fortunately, most of the papers that were presented can be downloaded from the association’s website. One paper that I could not get to but that looks really good was the winner of the inaugural New Zealand Economic Policy Prize, KiwiSaver: An Initial Evaluation of the Impact on Retirement Saving, by Grant Scobie, David Law, and Lisa Meehan. There was also a session of outstanding papers in Land and Natural Resources, but that session was on at the same time as Eric and Des O’Dea were presenting in the “costs to society” session. That session was packed out, probably as people were expecting some entertaining exchanges between Eric and Des, but they were in complete agreement.
For the second year in a row, I was talking about electricity markets, but as this is a post about serious issues, I’ll describe that paper in a separate post. Next year I plan to be back on the more interesting area of an economic analysis of cricket.
Speaking of next year, the 2012 conference is going to be in Hamilton (June 27-29). I believe this is the first time we have gone to Hamilton—certainly it is the first time for a while. It will be interesting to see if we can maintain our recent high participation rates In the past couple of years, we have had very good representation from academia (at least, from the South Island universities) and from economists in government agencies, but less involvement from the private sector. We survey conference participants after each conference to find out what they liked and what we could do better, but it would also be nice to get feedback from those who don’t attend. If you are in the private sector and are not a regular attendee at our annual bun fight, what would entice you to come along?