Tuesday 23 July 2019

Around the traps

Blogging has been light as other commitments have pressed, but you may have caught me around the traps:
  • I pointed to Stats NZ's disaggregated CPI figures in this piece by Susan Edmunds over at Stuff
    "Statistics New Zealand recently began releasing cost-of-living statistics for different groups to take account of differences in spending patterns. Since they started doing that, they have found that increases in the cost of living have been most sharply felt by the poorest because tobacco excise increases, petrol price increases and housing costs there have the worst effects. And these are areas directly under the government's control. Ceasing punitive tobacco excise increases and fixing the regulatory settings to allow new housing be built would substantially affect living costs for the poorest."
    You can check out Stats' shiny Living Cost Explorer right here.

  • I also pointed to the consequences of failing to adjust NZ Superannuation in recognition of rising life expectancy in another article over at Stuff:
    Crampton said, if things were left as they were, it would not mean fiscal collapse.

    But it would mean government budgets were increasingly skewed to helping those who are older rather than those in greater need.

    "And, the longer we wait to make changes, the harder it will be to make changes because of changes in voter demographics. I view that as inequitable, but others can reach different conclusions."
  • At the Herald, I suggested that reductions in the projected number of superyachts attending the America's Cup would worsen the already dubious case for government funding big sporting events. Tom Dillane there was only able to use a smaller part of my more verbose commentary, so here's the full text:
    “The case for government funding of the America’s Cup was always rather weak. After correction to some errors in the initial estimates, MBIE reported an estimated benefit-to-cost ratio only slightly higher than 1:1, with a range from 0.997 to 1.14. So every dollar of estimated benefit was matched, nearly one-to-one, for a dollar of cost. We can worry that these kinds of estimates are often optimistic about the benefits of these kinds of events. But the estimates would have been based on an expected number of visitors. If fewer superyachts are coming in for the event, then the benefits of the event will be a bit lower than expected. If we think that events like the America’s Cup do more to change the timing of just when tourists and superyachts come to New Zealand than to affect whether they ever come to New Zealand, then we should perhaps be less worried about things – except that that would also mean that the initial benefit estimates were always overstated.”

    “We should be sceptical that the path to national riches lies through public subsidy of large sporting events. If New Zealand taxpayers are happy for the government to spend a lot of money on what is effectively a big party in Auckland, then the event should be funded on that basis. But we should not delude ourselves that big parties attended by some foreign tourists are really investments.”

  • Finally, I had a chat with Heather du Plessis-Allan about New Zealand's mess of regulations around heritage-listed buildings, that too often make it just too hard to own the things.

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