The uselessness of additional action under the CPRS

There was a bit of dispute a month ago over the claim, made here and elsewhere, that the design of the CPRS made both voluntary action to reduce CO2 emissions, and government initiatives such as the Rudd government’s home insulation scheme, have no effect except to reduce the price of permits.

The issue seems to have been settled by this Victorian government brief, leaked to the Age

, which states:

The Victorian government’s policies to cut carbon emissions will make no difference in achieving national greenhouse targets …

The leaked brief, obtained by The Age newspaper, says the government must rethink policies including subsidising solar farms and buying hybrid cars for its fleet because they will not assist in meeting targets in the proposed federal Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS).

The Rudd government can and should fix this.

My election night

I was at the tally room on election night, in time to hear Lawrence Springborg’s concession speech and see Anna Bligh claim victory as the first woman to be elected as a State Premier. Not that I’m an election tragic, but we were having a farewell dinner for a friend at Southbank, and the Convention Centre was only short walk away, so we went on to take a look. The tally room itself was a little disappointing as the old days of a gigantic board with manually adjusted vote counts for every seat are gone (or maybe only ever happened at the Federal level). Instead we got a big screen with regularly updated results including (unofficial, I assume) projections of the preference distribution: more informative, but not much different to what we could have got at home.

The result was a much bigger majority for Labor than appeared likely, even though the two-party preferred vote (to the extent that this concept is meaningful when a lot of independent candidates are actually elected) was quite close. One possible interpetation was a highly effective marginal seats strategy, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Given the government’s vulnerabilities and what I thought was a more professional campaign from the Opposition, the result gives some support to the idea that Labor has become the natural party of government in most Australian states. Nevertheless, no party is guaranteed of office, and hopefully a stronger opposition will keep the Bligh government on its toes a bit more than in the past.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner movies

Election tomorrow

After a fairly somnolent campaign, the LNP is going into tomorrow’s Queensland state election with a narrow lead in the polls. I haven’t paid much attention, since the capacity of state governments to make a difference, always limited, has been reduced further by the financial crisis. If I could choose an outcome it would probably be a minority Labor government, relying on a Green independent or two for its majority. As regards a change of government, it’s always beneficial to have alternation of power in a democracy. I’m not at all impressed by the apparent quality of the alternative government, but it’s more convincing as a united party than as the chaotic rabble that went under the name “Coalition”. The Bligh government has some reasonably strong performers (Bligh herself and Paul Lucas for example), but there have been plenty of duds or worse. And the involvement of proven disasters like Mike Kaiser in the campaign was a big mistake.

Austrian economics: a response to Boettke

I’ve long promised a post on Austrian economics. To organise my thoughts and minimise the risk of attacking a straw man, I’ve taken as my starting point this encylopedia article by Peter Boettke. Boettke sets out ten claims and derives some claimed conclusions. I’ve responded point by point, and then given my own summary.

As I’ve had trouble with various fringe adherents of Austrianism, I’m setting out some strict ground rules for discussion here. Comment should stick strictly to discussion of economics. Anyone making personal attacks of any kind will have their comments deleted and be barred from this thread. Avoid anything that might be seen as insulting other participants in the discussion

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Cache crash at CT

Due to arcane problems with caches, users of Firefox (and maybe some other browsers) haven’t been able to read new posts at Crooked Timber for over a week. You can work around by using Safari, or by clicking on the comments thread of a post, then clicking Home in the expanded view (please don’t ask me why this works). RSS feeds also appear to work normally.

Bonds Beat Stocks in ‘Earth-Shattering’ Reversal

This Bloomberg story gets the headline right., but the lead (or lede) wrong. The intro “Buying 30-year Treasuries is returning more than stocks for the first time since Jimmy Carter was president. ” is wrong – bonds have beaten stocks in quite a few years since then.

Bonds beat stocks (Bloomberg)
Bonds beat stocks (Bloomberg)

The finding in the chart is much more dramatic, to the point that “earth-shattering” is justifiable hyperbole. What it shows is that, over the entire period since 1979, a strategy of buying 30-bonds (trading so that the portfolio always holds the most recently issued bond) has outperformed the strategy of buying stocks and reinvesting the dividends.

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