UQ and China

A colleague wrote to me today asking about the case of Drew Pavlou, a student suspended by the University of Queensland for two years as a result of actions in the course of protests against the policies of the Chinese government in Hong Kong. Here’s my reply

I don’t know any more about it than what I read in the papers, but it certainly looks bad for UQ. To the extent that anything has come out about the reasons for suspending the student, they seem to be political stunts that are fairly typical of student activists. A sensible university management would ignore this kind of thing, not make a martyr of the student.
As you say, the more the Chinese regime deteriorates into a personal dictatorship, the more problematic it is to bend (or be seen to bend) to pressure in matters of this kind.

Can we beat influenza

Following my post on pandemic whataboutery, James Joyner had some interesting thoughts, noting that

Interestingly, Quiggin doesn’t circle back to the third example from his introduction: influenza. Will Americans, having been conditioned to lockdowns during this pandemic, be more likely to implement them again for lesser ones? Or will this be a Never Again moment?

I was thinking over a post on this topic when I read that New Zealand is planning to use the testing contact tracing system set up for the coronavirus to stamp out sexually transmitted infections. So, the idea is obviously in the air.

Read More »

MWW on MMT (from Twitter via Spooler)

Mitchell, Wray and Watts Macroeconomics p 323, give a the correct version of the #MMT position on budget aggregates .

Taxes create real resource space in which the government can fulfil its socio-economic mandate. Taxes reduce the non-government sector’s purchasing power and hence its ability to command real resources for the government to command with its spending.

Take a situation where the national government is spending around 30 per cent of GDP, while its tax revenue is somewhat less, say 27 per cent. The net injection of spending coming from the national government is thus about 3 per cent of GDP. If we eliminated taxes (and held all else constant) the net injection rises towards 30 per cent of GDP. That is a huge increase in aggregate demand and could cause inflation.

(I’d say would rather than could, but otherwise spot-on)

Ideally it is best if tax revenue moves countercyclically, increasing in an expansion and declining in a recession.

(This exactly matches Keynes’ position “the boom, not the slump is the time for austerity at the Treasury”)

3 per cent average deficit over the cycle is consistent with debt averaging 60 per cent, nominal growth g and nominal bond rate r averaging 5 per cent. In this case, primary deficit is zero on average.


But if r<g (desirable), can run a primary deficit as well as a total deficit.

A pre-pandemic energy policy

The government has released a report on energy policy it commissioned from former Origin Energy boss Grant King. I prepared a brief response for the Australian media science centre

The government’s thinking remains five to ten years behind the times.  Although the idea of new coal-fired power stations seems finally to have been abandoned, the report focuses heavily on technology options that seemed promising in the past but have now been abandoned everywhere in the developed world, such as nuclear power and carbon capture and sequestration. More important is the failure to recognise that gas-fired electricity generation is increasingly being supplanted by the combination of renewables and battery storage. The policy remains fixated on extractible resources such as coal and gas, ignoring our massive endowment of solar and wind resources.

The more fundamental problem is that the approach to climate policy that underlies all of this is the same as the denialist approach to the pandemic, exemplified by Trump – since dealing with impending disaster will be inconvenient, let’s just keep ignoring it. After all, it might never happen.

Sandpit

A new sandpit for long side discussions, conspiracy theories, idees fixes and so on. The last got clogged with random conspiracy theories.

To be clear, the sandpit is for regular commenters to pursue points that distract from regular discussion, including conspiracy-theoretic takes on the issues at hand. It’s not meant as a forum for visiting conspiracy theorists, or trolls posing as such.