Colin Clark lecture

I presented the Colin Clark lecture today, on the topic “National Accounting and the Digital Economy: The Case of the NBN’


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.

Paul Syvret covered it in the Courier-Mail. I also did an interview with Steve Austin on the local ABC 612[1], which started off with a brief discussion of Rudd’s economic legacy, and another for AM on Radio National which didn’t make it to air.

The slides are here

fn1. Illustrated with a slightly goofy candid shot, taken in the ABC Green Room

4 thoughts on “Colin Clark lecture

  1. Very interesting presentation, I would have liked to hear the talk. I agree a different methodology to measure the real net benefit (or cost) of the NBN makes sense. Although given the large degree of unknowns as far as some of the benefits Are concerned I think it would be a difficult exercise filled with a large number of subjective assumptions. I would like to see a plan where rural areas, medical, education and business facilities are prioritised. I think this is where the “value” lies. Following this investment I want to be able to download HD multimedia lightning fast. It is a shame that the NBN has been such a schmozzle for so long, without looking like improving soon.

  2. @John Quiggin

    Ah yes, the salt and pepper beard, I would suffer the same fate if I grew a beard again. But what stopped me was the thought that I am clean shaven in my passport photo and some countries seem to delay and even detain bearded people for any irregularity.

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