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Economics Explored Live

Livestream featuring US jobless claims, Aussie GDP + farewell to Tony Makin

I did a livestream earlier today (Friday 3 December 2021) with my regular co-host Tim Hughes on the latest economic news of the week, including the latest US initial jobless claims confirming a strong US economy, the impact of the omicron COVID-variant on equity markets, and the September quarter Australian GDP figures which revealed the adverse impacts of NSW and Victorian lockdowns. You can click on and watch the video on YouTube below. You can also download the slides I showed.  

In the livestream, from around 22:05, I reflected on the late Professor Tony Makin’s contributions to the Australian economic policy debate, particularly on whether we should worry about the current account deficit in the late 80s/early 90s and on the effectiveness of the Rudd Government’s fiscal stimulus. On the current account deficit, Tony’s articles, along with the contributions of John Pitchford, clearly led to a change in the policy consensus on the current account, so it was no longer something that would be a macroeconomic policy target. Sadly, Tony died unexpectedly earlier this week. This came as a huge shock to so many of us, and it’s obvious from all the conversations I’ve had about Tony over the last few days just how much respect and admiration his colleagues and former students had for him. Tony’s funeral is on Monday on the Gold Coast (see notice below). 

Funeral notice for the late Griffith University Economics Professor Tony Makin, who will be greatly missed by his family, friends, colleagues, and former students.

Please get in touch with any questions, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact@economicsexplored.com or sending a voice message via https://www.speakpipe.com/economicsexplored. Economics Explored is available via Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcast, and other podcasting platforms.

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Economics Explored Live

Aussie reopening, Kiwi inflation, oil and petrol prices, and Bitcoin news – livestream from 22 October 2021

Economics Explored host Gene Tunny’s latest Friday livestream for 22 October 2021 covered:

  • accelerating NZ inflation and the implications for interest rates of accelerating inflation in advanced economies more broadly;
  • the great Australian reopening and booming job vacancies (i.e. as noted by the National Skills Commission “Nationally job advertisements are up by 36.2% (or 60,800 job advertisements) compared to levels observed prior to the pandemic”); and
  • the extraordinary Bitcoin narrative which is being reinforced by the introduction of Bitcoin-exposed Exchange Traded Funds.

You can download Michael Knox’s excellent note on the oil price which was mentioned in the livestream here:

Biden’s oil and gas lease pause

Also, check out this great note (also quoted in the livestream and which was likely written by Pete Wargent) in the BuyersBuyers newsletter from yesterday:

Yields creeping higher

Please get in touch with any questions, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact@economicsexplored.com. Economics Explored is available via Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcast, and other podcasting platforms.

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Economics Explored Live

US inflation and Aussie jobs data – 15 October 21 livestream

Economics Explored Live for 15 October 2021, the first edition of what I’m planning to be a weekly livestream, covered:

  • the growing concern internationally about accelerating inflation, prompted by the latest US CPI figures (see chart below;
  • the September ABS Labour Force data revealing big drops in hours worked and workforce participation in the locked-down economies of NSW and Victoria; and
  • my state of Queensland’s relatively low vaccination rate (72% for 1st dose vs 84% nationally) and what it could mean for the state’s reopening and the economy – it’s pretty obvious the Queensland Premier should set a date for re-opening ASAP to encourage people to get vaccinated promptly, as suggested by the Queensland branch of the Australian Medical Association.

Here’s the video of the livestream, which was streamed to YouTube and LinkedIn Live:

Regarding inflationary pressures in advanced economies, I quoted leading market economist Stephen Roach from his recent Financial Times op-ed The sequencing trap that risks stagflation 2.0:

As brilliant and lucky as they have been, today’s generation of central bankers is afflicted with the same sense of denial that proved problematic in the 1970s. Due to a lack of experience and institutional memory of that tough period, the risk of another monetary policy blunder cannot be taken lightly.

Certainly, central banks have been running a massive monetary policy experiment with ultra-low interest rates and Quantitative Easing, which have been associated with double-digit growth rates in money stocks. I agree with Roach regarding the potential for a “monetary policy blunder”.

Other links relevant to the livestream include:

Pete Faulkner’s post Labour Force; national data hit by lockdowns while QLD powers ahead

QEW post featuring my The Other Side interview on Australia’s economic suicide

Vaccination numbers and statistics

ABS: New data shows lockdown impacts on business turnover

Cross-posted at http://www.queenslandeconomywatch.com. Please get in touch with any questions, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact@economicsexplored.com. Economics Explored is available via Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcast, and other podcasting platforms.

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Podcast episode

EP106 – COVID lockdowns, vaccine mandates, and vaping with Dr Gilbert Berdine

A Texas physician, university lecturer in medicine, and affiliate of a free market think tank Gilbert Berdine MD explains why he thinks COVID lockdowns have been “a disaster” and why he does not support vaccine mandates.

At a time when the COVID pandemic continues, and cities such as Sydney and Melbourne remain locked down, Gilbert Berdine MD from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center shares his views on lockdowns and vaccine mandates with show host Gene Tunny. The conversation also explores Dr Berdine’s views on regulations regarding vaping or e-cigarettes.

About this episode’s guest – Gilbert G. Berdine MD

Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock, TX

Faculty Affiliate, Free Market Institute, Lubbock, TX

Dr. Berdine earned his B.S. degrees in chemistry and life sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA and his M.D. degree from Harvard University School of Medicine in Boston, MA. He completed residency in Internal Medicine and fellowship in Pulmonary Diseases at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (now called Brigham and Women’s Hospital) in Boston, MA.

Dr. Berdine was a faculty member at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio from 1983-1989. He was in the private practice of medicine from 1989-2009 when he returned to academia as a faculty member of TTUHSC.

Dr. Berdine’s current teaching activities include lecturer for the respiratory blocks in the 1st year Major Organ Systems course and the 2nd year Systems Disorders 1 course. His clinical duties include staff attending physician for the inpatient Pulmonary Consult Service, inpatient Internal Medicine Floor Service, and the outpatient Pulmonary Fellow Clinic. He also sees patients in the Pulmonary Clinic for Texas Tech Physicians.

Dr. Berdine’s research interests include the application of Austrian Economics to health care delivery and consumption. Dr. Berdine has published articles on these topics in peer reviewed journals and is a contributor to the Mises Daily Wire and the American Institute of Economic Research.

Contact: gilbert.berdine@ttuhsc.edu

Links relevant to the conversation

COVID-19 Vaccines and the Delta Variant – AIER article by Gilbert Berdine MD

Lockdowns of Young People Lead to More Deaths from Covid-19 – AIER article by Gilbert Berdine MD

Covid Misclassification: What Do the Data Suggest? – AIER article by Gilbert Berdine MD

Sometimes hesitancy is justified by Gilbert Berdine MD

Vaping Laws and the Treachery of Good Intentions by Gilbert Berdine MD

EP100 – Incentivizing Vaccinations or Cash for Jabs

Correspondence from Dr Berdine on COVID mortality rates

…the mortality rate has a range of over 1000:1 depending on your age. The average mortality is heavily determined by the number of people over age 80 in the population. 

Based on latest census data and current CDC figures for COVID deaths

https://www.census.gov/data/tables/2019/demo/age-and-sex/2019-age-sex-composition.html

https://data.cdc.gov/NCHS/Provisional-COVID-19-Deaths-by-Sex-and-Age/9bhg-hcku

Mortality expressed as 1/mortality : 

Age: Mortality

Under 5: 124,126

5 to 14: 283,027

15 to 24: 32,461

25 to 34: 7,850

35 to 44: 2,845

45 to 54: 1,087

55 to 64: 475

65 to 74: 213

75 to 84: 87

85 +: 31

Cumulative Age

Under 5: 124,126

Under 15: 199,917

Under 25: 64,258

Under 35: 20,120

Under 45: 8,681

Under 55: 3,880

So, for 35 and younger, the cumulative mortality including the overcounting is less than 1/10,000. If one looks at annual mortality, the figure  for Under 45 including overcounting is likely less than 1/10,000. If one adjusts modestly for overcounting, the  figure for Under 55 is likely less than 1/10,000.

Please get in touch with any questions, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact@economicsexplored.com. Economics Explored is available via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast, and other podcasting platforms.

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Podcast episode

EP100 – Incentivizing Vaccinations or Cash for Jabs

Governments around the world are experimenting with various incentives such as cash and free beer to encourage vaccinations against COVID-19.  Episode 100 explores what an optimal incentive could look like.

Australian economist Isaac Katz discusses his proposed vaccination incentive with Economics Explored host Gene Tunny. You can read all about Isaac’s plan in his discussion paper Incentives for achieving COVID 19 herd immunity through vaccination.

Key features of Isaac’s plan are:

1. Rewards (incentives) could be in the form of payments to each vaccinated individual, and eligibility to win a significant lottery prize and smaller prizes. 

2. The incentives would only be payable if a specified national vaccination rate is met by a specified due date.  Incentives would not be paid prior to the due date.  This approach creates a focus on the objective – which is to maximise the national vaccination rate.  Rewarding individuals for being vaccinated without recognising the national objective will fail to promote community based actions to increase vaccination rates.

About this episode’s guest

Isaac Katz is a Director of Harding Katz Pty Ltd, a small consulting practice based in Melbourne specialising in utility regulation, energy market reform, business strategy and applied economics.Isaac was previously a Senior Manager with Cap Gemini Ernst & Young in Melbourne from October 1997 to September 2001.  He has provided economic and regulatory advice to regulators, Government and regulated businesses on a wide range of strategy and policy issues.

Prior to moving to Australia, Isaac worked as a senior economic assistant for the UK electricity regulator (now Ofgem); and as a pool price analyst for a regional electricity company.  Isaac also worked as an economist for Railtrack plc, focusing on aspects of the regulatory framework prior to and immediately after privatisation.

Isaac has a Master of Arts, Economics, from Cambridge University and a Master of Science, Business Economics, from Strathclyde University.

Links related to the conversations include:

https://theconversation.com/free-beer-doughnuts-and-a-1-million-lottery-how-vaccine-incentives-and-other-behavioral-tools-are-helping-the-us-reach-herd-immunity-160591

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-58020090

Please get in touch with any questions, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact@economicsexplored.com. Economics Explored is available via Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcast, and other podcasting platforms.

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Podcast episode

EP90 – Lockdown Cost-benefit Analysis with Professor Douglas Allen

Episode 90 of Economics Explored features a discussion regarding COVID lockdown costs versus benefits with Professor Douglas Allen from Simon Fraser University, Canada. Professor Allen has concluded COVID lockdowns have been the greatest peacetime policy failure in Canada’s history. Please check out our conversation for Professor Allen’s justification for this claim.

Links relevant to the conversation include:

Professor Allen’s Lockdown CBA for Canada

Economist: Lockdowns ‘Greatest Peacetime Policy Failure’ in Canada’s History – Foundation for Economic Education

Our World in Data – Coronavirus

Please get in touch with any questions, comments and suggestions by emailing us at contact@economicsexplored.com.

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Podcast episode

EP79 – Running the numbers on COVID-19 measures

One year on from when many countries started imposing tough COVID-19 control measures, Economics Explored host Gene Tunny asks eminent Australian finance Professor Peter Swan whether lockdowns pass a cost-benefit analysis test. In Episode 79 Running the Numbers on COVID-19 measures, Professor Swan says he stands by his view expressed last year that they do not. Listen to this episode to hear why Prof. Swan believes this is so.

About this episode’s guest – Professor Peter Swan

Professor Peter Swan AO FRSN FASSA is currently in Banking and Finance, UNSW-Sydney Business School. Peter completed his Honours Economics Degree at ANU, his PhD at Monash and after a visiting position at the University of Chicago, joined the Economics faculty at ANU, then to a chair at AGSM (UNSW), and was foundation professor in the Finance Department at the University of Sydney prior to returning to UNSW in 2002 with a Scientia Professorial Award in 2003.

He was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia in 1997 and gained recognition in the Queen’s Birthday Honours lists in 2003 and 2016 with the Order of Australia (AM) and (AO), respectively. In 2018 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales (FRSN). His Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) Citation states: “For distinguished service to finance and commerce as a leading academic, journalist, and commentator on domestic investment, and on a range of political and economic issues.” His Member of the Order of Australia (AM) Citation states: “For services to academia as a scholar and researcher and through contributions to public policy in the fields of economics and finance”.

Links relevant to this episode

Prof. Swan’s Quadrant article Run the Numbers, Survey the Folly

Open letter from 122 Australian economists: don’t sacrifice health for ‘the economy’ (which Prof. Swan critiques in his Quadrant article and in this episode)

COVID-19 deaths worldwide per million population as of March 19, 2021

If you’d like to ask a question for Gene to answer in a future episode or if you’d like to make a comment or suggestion, please get in touch via the website. Thanks for listening.

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Podcast episode

EP68 – COVID and Wartime: Comparison of economic impacts

Economics Explored episode 68 COVID and Wartime features a conversation on whether COVID can be compared to wartime, which considers the different scales and scopes of the shocks, and what it all means for prospects for economic recovery. Economics Explored host Gene Tunny, an Australian professional economist and former Treasury official, speaks with businessman Tim Hughes, also based in Brisbane, Australia.

Gene and Tim conclude that a comparison of COVID to wartime isn’t valid. One reason is that World War II required a complete reorganisation of the economy to maximise production for the war effort, while COVID has involved restrictions that have reduced economic activity. 

Links relevant to the conversation include:

Comparing COVID-19 to past world war efforts is premature — and presumptuous

US Council on Foreign Relations Backgrounder on The National Debt Dilemma

Brookings on What’s the Fed doing in response to the COVID-19 crisis? What more could it do?

Australia’s Boldest Experiment (excellent book on Australia’s wartime economy)

Robert Gordon’s The Rise and Fall of American Growth (outstanding book by a leading US economist containing a great discussion of America’s wartime economy)

Aussies over-confident after being over-compensated by Gov’t for COVID-recession

Mint security lapse amazes judge (story about theft from the Australian Mint in early-to-mid 2000s)

Finally, the word Gene got stuck on at 6:55, irredentist, means, “a person advocating the restoration to their country of any territory formerly belonging to it”, according to Oxford Languages.

If you’d like to ask a question for Gene to answer in a future episode or if you’d like to make a comment or suggestion, please get in touch via the website. Thanks for listening.

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Podcast episode

EP66 – Money and Cryptocurrency

When I recorded the latest episode of my Economics Explored podcast last Friday afternoon, the price of one Bitcoin was a bit above US$18,000 after having failed to get beyond US$20,000 in the previous weeks. In my chat with my friend Tim Hughes, I said who knew what it would end up at when the episode was finally released. Well, it turns out that the price of one Bitcoin has finally gone beyond US$20,000 (check out this Coindesk report).

The US$20,000 Bitcoin price is the latest illustration of the Greater Fool Theory. If you’re buying Bitcoin at this price you’re speculating/gambling you’ll find a greater fool who’ll buy it at a higher price. Coindesk suggests there could be a lot of greater fools out there:

Breaking above $20,000, which represented a significant hurdle in the mindset of most traders, is entirely new ground for bitcoin and opens the doors for a climb to $100,000 over the course of 2021, according to some.

As I discussed with Tim, and in my Queensland Economy Watch post from Saturday, Huge swings in Bitcoin value make it hard to believe it will ever replace traditional currencies, I’m very sceptical about the value of Bitcoin. But, hey, it’s 2020, and Bitcoin’s insane valuation is just another marker of this extraordinary year.

Please feel free to comment below. Alternatively, please send and comments, suggestions, or questions to contact@economicsexplored.com