Colin Clark Memorial lecture: National Accounting and the Digital Economy – the Case of the National Broadband Network,

I’ll be presenting the Colin Clark Memorial lecture on 14 November.

Colin Clark’s greatest contribution to economics was his pioneering role in the construction of national accounts. In the industrial economy of the 20th century, the central problem in the national accounting was the need to avoid double counting, by measuring only the value added at each stage of production. This problem is closely related to that of benefit-cost analysis for public projects. In the 21st century digital economy, value is primarily derived from the flow of information rather than physical inputs and outputs. This creates new problems for national accounting, and for benefit-cost analysis. One example of these problems is the question of how to evaluate alternative proposals for the National Broadband Network.

The talk is bundled with a lunch at Customs House, which (from past experience) will be very pleasant, but fairly expensive, so this event is mostly going to appeal to people whose employers can pay. For those who aren’t in this category, or who aren’t in Brisbane, I’ll post a link to the slides after the event.

13 thoughts on “Colin Clark Memorial lecture: National Accounting and the Digital Economy – the Case of the National Broadband Network,

  1. Thanks very much Professor for upholding the spirit of public service, particularly when the PM and State Premiers are trashing the Public Service.

  2. the valuation of services is a challenge, especially digital services that are free. how do you value facebook? twitter?

  3. “In the 21st century digital economy, value is primarily derived from the flow of information rather than physical inputs and outputs.”

    Hmmm, we shall see. Matter and energy are the basis of everything. It’s economic Breathairianism to believe anything else.

  4. @Jim Rose

    I look forward to the collapse of a lot of these “empty corporations”. These are corporations like Facebook that make nothing real. Sure, a modicum of entertainment and “look at me” are fine but in the long run that produces nothing of fundamental value. Other uses of the internet for useful data transfer in all fields from finance to governance, education and medicine (for examples) are the true reasons we need broadband.

  5. It would an interesting study to attempt to determine assign a split of the data between private, overheads, production, and information sharing. And in overheads the marketing, governance, and personnel share. Start there and you have a bit of a chance to determine the value of the internet to industry.

  6. @Ikonoclast
    Don’t hold your breath. Clearly a lot of people value this sort of social interaction, trivial perhaps in the grand scheme of things, quite highly. The economy is positively littered with successful business models based upon things people don’t need.

  7. If it was in Sydney I’d be there. Must see if I can arrange a vital meeting with a customer that afternoon. There must be something I can do? Look forward to the slides.

  8. The urge to talk about yourself exists for good evolutionary reasons. It isn’t going away any time soon.

  9. It’s a pity that UQ isn’t webcasting this talk, there would be a lot interest I think. Me for one.

  10. @Nathan

    During a time of plenty the “economy is positively littered with successful business models based upon things people don’t need”.

    During a time (the next several centuries) of great scarcity and mass die-offs… not so much.

  11. Ikonoclast
    There is no scarcity but arteficial scarcity that capitalist employ to make profits.
    All these problems can be solved in 10 years time if population realizes the problem, if the problem becomes clear as the problem of wars is clear. WWII level eforts can be moved and produce anything needed with really good and tight organization that populations in united consensus only can.

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