Monday Message Board

Back again with another Monday Message Board.

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link. You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page

22 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. A club – conserving your human rights.

    “Like Gauntlett, Finlay was appointed without any transparent application process.” 

    Rubish. The approved Judges in the Jessup International Law Moot were involved in the initial conditions. The application was not glass. Christian Porter must have been able to read it.

    Must he frustrating being professors et al, able to out econo-social any of them, yet nobody asked them, or us, to be part of the internally transparent with process – written in Vanta black ink – the blackest of black- to appoint thise lucky enough to get a seat on the very limited en-train.
    In with the judges? If so you get:

    “Free speech, consent, COVID-19: Busy times for the new Human Rights Commissioner

    “The University of Western Australia’s team did well at the 2002 Jessup International Law Moot, perhaps the most prestigious mock trial competition for law students, but came up short in second place.

    “Members of the team have done well since then, though: of the team and their coach, half have been appointed by the federal government to the Human Rights Commission or High Court.

    Coach James Edelman was appointed to the High Court in 2017, just before his university friend, 

    – Christian Porter, became attorney-general. Porter later appointed 

    – Ben Gauntlett, one of the team members, to the Australian Human Rights Commission as Disability Discrimination Commissioner.

    “This month, Porter’s successor as Attorney-General, Michaelia Cash, announced Gauntlett would be joined by a familiar face: 

    – Lorraine Finlay, who under her maiden name, van der Ende, was the best speaker in the 2002 Jessup final. She will be Human Rights Commissioner from November 22

    “Like Gauntlett, Finlay was appointed without any transparent application process.

    “That has infuriated Labor and the Greens, who see her as an ideological pick for the commission designed to toe the government’s line.

    “Finlay has argued for a range of views backed by sections of the Coalition. She has said an Indigenous voice to Parliament would be “political segregation”; criticised section 18C of the Race Discrimination Act, which prohibits vilifying or offending people based on their race, as going too far; and has run for Liberal pre-selection.

    “As long ago as 2002, Finlay was quoted in the West Australian as the president of the Australian Young Liberal Students Federation, inveighing against what she saw as a proposal to reintroduce compulsory student unionism while students were “distracted by their exams”.

    Judges of the Jessup International Law Moot include;
    ☆ Judge Abraham Sofaer – Hoover Institute (Palo Alto, California, USA)

    Abraham Sofaer @ Wikipedia
    …”Public service
    “Sofaer is a founding member and former Chairman of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem; he currently serves on its Board as Vice-Chair. He is a trustee of the 
    ☆ Koret Foundation of San Francisco, a Fellow of the Israel Museum, and a member of the International Advisory Boards of the Israel Democracy Institute[4] and NGO Monitor.[5]”.

    And Sofaer is one four board members:

    ☆ Abraham D. Sofaer

    …who. ..

    ☆ “Attempt to Conceal Koret Foundation Financial Transactions Fought in Battle Over Half-Billion Dollar Charity, Says Susan Koret

    “Documents Show Koret Directors Personally Profited From Self-Dealing Through Sale of Koret Foundation Assets to Prometheus Real Estate Group, Attorneys Say

    Susan Koret 
    Mar 29, 2016
    “Mrs. Koret’s lawsuit demands the removal of board members Tad Taube and his longtime legal counsel Richard L. Greene of Greene Radovsky Maloney Share & Hennigh LLP in part due to alleged self-dealing. The suit pleads breach of charitable trust for an injunction against all of the directors who include Anita Friedman, director of Jewish Family and Children’s Services, Richard Atkinson, former president of the University of California, Michael J. Boskin,
    Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution,
    [☆] Abraham D. Sofaer, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution

    The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace is a conservative American public policy institution and research institution that promotes
    – personal and
    – economic liberty,
    – free enterprise, and
    – limited government.

    Lucky they are all such social justice supporters and philanthropists. How would the world be if they weren’t so powerful, privileged and in charge of our laws and human rights.

    Sortition please. And transparent process, seen to be so, as is required if judges.

  2. As stated before on this blogsite, there are three interrelated critical problem areas in contemporary economics:
    1. Excessive wealth and income concentration
    2. Environmental degradation of which human induced average global warming is perhaps the most important one.
    3. Financial stability.

    The paper by Kellie Bellrose, David Norman and Michelle Royters in the September 2021 RBA Bulletin estimates and discusses the interrelationship between global warming and financial stability of the banks:

  3. Disaster movie

    The Canary islands, like the Hawaii chain, are volcanoes created by a deep plume of magma, over which ta tectonic plate slowly moves. In the Canaries, this motion is eastwards, so the active volcanoes are at the western end, notably La Palma. Its steep Cumbre Vieja is erupting spectacularly, leading to evacuations and breathless news reports.

    They cold be a lot more breathless. A pair of vulcanologists modelled what cold happen if a big chunk broke off and slid into the sea, as has definitely happened in the distant past and as recently as 2018 on a smaller scale. Wikipedia 8

    “Ward and Day 2001 estimated […] the tsunami induced by the simulated Cumbre Vieja. They used a scenario of a collapse of 500 cubic kilometres […]
    – 15 minutes-60 minutes: 50–100 metres (160–330 ft) high waves hit Africa. A 500 kilometres (310 mi) wide train of waves advances across the Atlantic.
    – 3–6 hours: The waves hit South America and Newfoundland, reaching heights of 15–20 metres (49–66 ft) and 10 metres (33 ft), respectively. Spain and England are partially protected by La Palma, thus tsunami waves there only reach 5–7 metres (16–23 ft).
    – 9 hours: Waves 20–25 metres (66–82 ft) approach Florida-..”

    Woo. This would wipe out whole cities and kill millions of people, since evacuation is impossible in the time. The good news is that the authors guess it could happen once in 100,000 years. To be fair, other scientists have questioned the methods and come up with a smaller tsunami. But even that leaves a large local disaster in the Canaries themselves, with a largely coastal population of 2.2 million.

    Should we do anything about this? It´s tempting to leave the problem to future generations. in 2321, volcano engineering may be an established technology. An intergenerational Golden Rule suggests that we should clear the path to this by modest investments in the science today, which should also have shorter-term payoffs in better prediction and management of lesser and more frequent events.

    Is the issue a litmus test for climate delayers? For if you think it reasonable to spend even a tiny amount today on a catastrophic risk of 1 in 100,000 per year, you have to accept the need to spend large sums on a fifty-fifty risk or worse of global catastrophe in less than a century.

  4. Makeing life harder (not out of spite, just in accordance to the risks they pose) for the unvaccinated seems to work just fine getting vaccination rates up. It does not appear to start civil wars either+. See for example (in italian) or vaccination rates in France*
    *The to be expected noisy street protests and the president just anounces it approach to introducing the measures are just the way France rolls for better or worse, less serious topics have caused a lot more chaos.

    To put my previous 99% of the non vaccinated are just narcissists in more serious terms: The majority of the unvaccinated do not seem to be Bill Gates will chip me or my my child will get autism from it believers. Rather they refrain from getting vaccinated because they think there is not enough in it for them. That is still rather stupid to think, but at least when the person is sufficiently young and healthy, it is not obviously crazy, just particular selfish.

  5. Ernestine Gross has highlighted the economic and social costs of climate change. After reading the RBA paper by Kelli Bellrose, David Norman and Michelle Royters (September 2021) I can see why Ernestine is calling attention to the interrelated problems in contemporary economics.
    In that RBA article the following extracts worried me the most:
    “…how policies will change globally and how economies adapt.” (mainly because of what is happening in China);
    “Transition risks are associated with changes in policy(both in Australia and overseas),..” (again China mainly; but also what is going on in Europe);
    “One potential; large exposure from climate change is mortgages,…” ( This is likely to increase already worrying levels of mortgage stress); and
    “…high, unaffordable premiums are leading to a rise in uninsured homes (ACCC 2019).
    For those not convinced that there is mortgage stress in Australia I can refer you to an article by Jarni Blakkarly “Mortgage stress on the rise across Australia with Tasmania hit hardest.” CHOICE 27 may 2021.

    If banks use current valuations to base mortgage lending criteria then any deterioration of those valuations can impact on credit worthiness. Most mortgages in Australia are covered by insurance policies but they protect only the banks not the home owner.

    As for transition risks, there is a growing move to include climate change in major policy decisions. The one affecting Australia at the moment is China’s attempts to wind back steel and electricity production. This is impacting on global iron ore prices. There is also the moves among law makers in Europe to include climate change in trade deals. If this eventuate then Australia’s free trade deal with the Euro zone may be affected.

    If any of this impacts on share market values then household wealth may suffer. With historically low interest rates dominating financial markets, surplus units in Australia look to the share market for financial wealth increases. This may not be available in the near future.

  6. “In 40 tweets I will explain another 40 concepts you should know.”

    “The Curse of Knowledge: The more familiar you become with an idea the worse you become at explaining it to others, because you forget what it’s like to not know it, and therefore what needs to be explained to understand it. Makes it hard to write threads like this!”

    “Semmelweis Reflex: People tend to reject evidence that doesn’t fit the established worldview. Named for Ignaz Semmelweis, a surgeon who, before the discovery of germs, claimed washing hands could help prevent patient infections. He was ridiculed and locked away in a mental asylum”

    Sep 18

  7. Disaster movie 2

    From The Convrsation :

    “As the inhabitants of an ancient Middle Eastern city now called Tall el-Hammam went about their daily business one day about 3,600 years ago, they had no idea an unseen icy space rock was speeding toward them at about 38,000 mph (61,000 kph). Flashing through the atmosphere, the rock exploded in a massive fireball about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) above the ground. The blast was around 1,000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb. The shocked city dwellers who stared at it were blinded instantly. Air temperatures rapidly rose above 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit (2,000 degrees Celsius). Clothing and wood immediately burst into flames. Swords, spears, mudbricks and pottery began to melt. Almost immediately, the entire city was on fire. Some seconds later, a massive shockwave smashed into the city. Moving at about 740 mph (1,200 kph), it was more powerful than the worst tornado ever recorded. The deadly winds ripped through the city, demolishing every building. They sheared off the top 40 feet (12 m) of the 4-story palace and blew the jumbled debris into the next valley. None of the 8,000 people or any animals within the city survived – their bodies were torn apart and their bones blasted into small fragments.”

    This supports my volcano/climate thesis, for significant resources are already devoted to asteroid-watching to predict impacts, and a little to devising ways of stopping them early (diversion with small thrusters, late demolition with nukes as in the movies).

  8. Penn is throwing balls at people with a “shield” – vaccine – in front of a board of figurines representing children. Teller’s board has no shield. Children mowed down. Needs to be on TV tonight.

    Great Magcians & “anti vax is still bullsh!t!”

    Send to you favoutie libertarian. Penn is a bit of a libertarian.

    “Penn and Teller on Vaccinations

    (WordPress shiowing wierd formatting and locked up when pressing “post comment” today? 3x.)

  9. From Simon Nicholas at IEEFA on Jul 23:

    A review of coal power proposals in countries with large remaining project pipelines indicates that 56% of the total capacity of these proposals is being supported by China.

    Tweeted earlier today:

    Xi Jinping: “China will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad”

    The devil is in the detail. Note that the word used in Xi Jinping’s statement was build, instead of finance.

    Is King Coal finally dying?

  10. Posted today a Defence Connect was a piece by ANU Professor Roger Bradbury headlined The sub story no one wants to hear, that included:

    There is a huge and growing push of science and technology into sensing the oceans. This is being driven not only by military needs, but also by economic and environmental needs. And it is leading to a considered view that the oceans will become ‘transparent’ over the coming decades.

    A transparent ocean will be the result of a coming integration of sensing systems not yet developed, and it is likely to come together, when it does, quickly. The submarine era will likely end with a bang not a whimper.

    Subs will remain highly effective and lethal weapons systems until, because stealth – their one big trick – no longer works, they suddenly aren’t.

    This assessment could scupper the effectiveness and longevity of the AUKUS submarine proposal: “In simple terms, the submarine era will likely come to an end in the 2050s.

  11. Disaster still 3

    Disasters can provoke great art as well as mediocre. Hokusai:

    Look at the fishermen (or fishermen) in the tiny boats, bent desperately over their oars. Hokusai gives no hint as to whether they survive the tsunami or not. But his moral s simple and incontrovertible. pull together and we stand a chance, give up or waste time in bickering and we drown..

  12. KPMG Paying $50 Million Penalty for Illicit Use of PCAOB Data and Cheating on Training Exams


    Washington D.C., June 17, 2019 —

    “The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged KPMG LLP with altering past audit work after receiving stolen information about inspections of the firm that would be conducted by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB).  The SEC’s order also finds that numerous KPMG audit professionals cheated on internal training exams by improperly sharing answers and manipulating test results. 

    “The breadth and seriousness of the misconduct at issue here is, frankly, astonishing,” said Steven Peikin, Co-Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division. “This settlement reflects the need to severely punish this sort of wrongdoing while putting in place measures designed to prevent its recurrence.”

    “Uppercut: KPMG cheating scandal mirrors Big Four rot, wider business leadership
    “The news mirrors the decline in business ethics and government in Australia as evinced by the abuse of public money from the slew of political rorts scandals and, in corporate Australia, by the unseemly rush by profitable companies to claim public subsidies such as JobKeeper; and then the abject failure of “business leaders” to do anything about it other than feel quiet shame.

    “The KPMG revelations are extraordinary.”….

  13. Published at PNAS on Sep 21, was an op-ed by Johan Rockström et. al. headlined Opinion: We need biosphere stewardship that protects carbon sinks and builds resilience. It included:

    Today, ocean and land ecosystems remove around 50% of anthropogenic CO2 emissions from the atmosphere each year [1], an extraordinary biophysical feat, given that these emissions have risen from approximately 4 gigatonnes of carbon (GtC) per year in 1960 to around 11 GtC per year today. Put another way, half our “climate debt” is removed, for free, by the biosphere every year—a vast subsidy to the world economy.

    Then a little later (bold text my emphasis):

    It is therefore concerning that the IPCC now concludes that Earth’s temperature is slightly more sensitive to rising CO2 concentrations than previously thought [4]—meaning our remaining carbon budget to achieve the Paris target may have effectively shrunk. If we were able to more accurately simulate feedbacks in the global carbon cycle, such as tipping points in forest ecosystems [5] and abrupt permafrost thaw [6], the estimated remaining budget could disappear altogether. Hence, safeguarding the biosphere from further degradation or collapse is an existential challenge for humanity.

    And in conclusion:

    Whether the world can make good on the many promises of a resilient recovery after the coronavirus crisis remains to be seen. Successfully doing so may well determine whether we have a chance of keeping the planet in a stable state able to provide adequate life support for coming generations on Earth. Biosphere stewardship is essential for this endeavor.

    A sobering read indeed.

  14. A perennial question in tax economics is whether higher marginal tax rates mean people work harder – so workers substitute leisure for work when the opportunity cost of leisure goes down. This suggests weak income effects on the demand for leisure – so lower incomes as a consequence of higher taxes don’t mean people value their leisure much less and hence work harder.

    Greg Mankiw assembles some recent evidence suggesting that higher marginal tax rates do reduce work effort – see below. So, for example, workers in Europe work less hard than those in the US and hence US incomes are higher than those in Europe. Holidays in the US are notoriously stingy.

    I have been musing over these claims and my conclusion has long been that they might be true but so what! Maybe Europe is better off with lower GDP per head but with more leisure. One strand of literature due to Yew Kwang Ng sees the career -struggling “rat race” as disadvantaging all. People struggle to outdo their neighbours and the external effects are precisely to induce higher work effort by these neighbours which sets in motion even higher incentives to work more. Higher taxes internalise this externality and thus provide efficiency gains.

    I did a course on Coursera on “happiness” (apparently the most popular distance course on earth!) where it was argued that good experiences provide more sustained increases in happiness than do consumption goods. You remember forever the good holiday you took but forget the delights of purchasing a new flat screen TV quickly. Many leisure type experiences can be achieved at low cost. To the extent that taxes induce people to purchase more leisure-based experience activities they may gain more sustained increases in happiness than purchasing material goods. People may misperceive the sources of extra happiness because of advertising.

    Thus higher taxes may both correct “rat race” externalities and steer people in the direction of achieving higher sustainable happiness. Of course the higher vtaxes too can fund an increased supply of public goods – education and the arts which increase the supply of leisure-based consumptions.

  15. Blog post from an EV charging consultant with a list of 28 jurisdictions (countries and US states) that have announced bans on the sale of gasoline cars:
    13 have target dates of 2030 or earlier, including the significant markets of India, South Korea, Sweden and the Netherlands. The post does not give sources and it’s a one-off with no commitment to update, but still better than nothing.

  16. JQ, your article “The coming boom in inherited wealth” is getting better with age. Repeat, repeat, repeat with some feedback, updates & editing along the way. Thanks 

    Do you write articles for this reason – “I became a journalist partly so that I wouldn’t ever have to rely on the press for my information.”
    —  Christopher Hitchens, 

    “What Is Political Writing For?

    “But we can do better. … If persuasive writing has any real independent power at all, we’ll likely find it in larger arguments with larger stakes: work from writers who break the rhythms of our most intractable debates by slowing down to gather context from historical material, scholarship, and, yes, reporting.

    “We should be encouraged by the work of online writers already traveling in this lane—including The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer and the New York Times’ Jamelle Bouie, to name just two…” ymmv)

    “Ultimately, good writers will gravitate toward the platforms where they can do the work they find most meaningful. As it stands, most of the internet doesn’t have much to offer them.”

    “Why do most popular science books suck?
    “On the overwhelming needlessness of nonfiction
    Eric Hoel

    I’ll be honest: a mild nausea overcomes me the sight of a bookshelf in a science section. For I’m to add my own contribution soon. Currently I’m under contract to publish a nonfiction book in 2023

    “Instead, I think the best nonfiction books are fundamentally amateurish, authored by dilettantes. …. I mean this in a good way.

    “… a nonfiction work of “popular science” should take full advantage of the fact that it is a discussion occurring outside the normal standards of academia. In the cases of Pinker and McGilChrist and Yuval, their books are so influential precisely because they skipped the peer review of a normal scientific paper, as well as the hierarchies within the fields that they, as dilettantes, touched on. 

    “Again, I know that sounds strange—isn’t peer review a good thing? Aren’t academic hierarchies a good thing? Sure, in some contexts. But they can also be limiting for grand sweeping theses. “…

    And imo, great writer, Cory Doctrow on;

    “The Actual Star

    “This month marks the publication of “The Actual Star,” a new, wildly ambitious, wildly successful novel by Monica Byrne, spanning 3,000 years of history from the ancient Maya to a distant future.

    “It’s a book about sacrifice, about the long view and deep time, about the universality of human experience and the particularity of any given moment. It’s a first-rate work of sf, and a hopeful and fearful book about the climate. It’s just great. ”

  17. Research economists christmas present. How valid or biased? Any reviews? Comment.

    “The external wealth of nations database

    Download the complete dataset

    Editor’s Note:
    “For the past several years, Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, now a senior fellow in the Hutchins Center at Brookings, and Philip Lane, now chief economist of the European Central Bank, have been curating a database on external financial assets and liabilities for more than 200 countries that stretches back to 1970—the External Wealth of Nations. The Hutchins Center is now making the entire dataset [Excel download] widely available online and will update it regularly.


    “The EWN provides estimates of each country’s external financial assets and liabilities. These data also yield estimates of each country’s net international investment position (NIIP), the difference between its total external financial assets and its total external liabilities.   


    “External financial assets are claims by domestic residents on nonresidents, consisting of: …”…

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