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Podcast episode

EP97 – BS jobs critique + CBDC thoughts from Dr Nicholas Gruen

David Graeber’s BS jobs thesis (previously covered in EP95) lacks microeconomic foundations, according to Dr Nicholas Gruen. In EP97, Economics Explored host Gene Tunny speaks with Nicholas about BS jobs and also about Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). Nicholas is a big believer in the potential of CBDC, which he has written about in the Financial Times.

About Dr Nicholas Gruen

Dr Nicholas Gruen is a policy economist, entrepreneur and commentator on our economy, society and innovation. He is CEO of Lateral Economics, Visiting Professor at Kings College London Policy Institute and Adjunct Professor at UTS Business School.

He was a Chairman of the Open Knowledge Foundation (Australia) (ending 2020), Chairman of international aged care management software provider Health Metrics (ending 2019), Council Member of the National Library of Australia (ending 2016), chaired the Federal Government’s Innovation Australia (ending 2014) and chaired the Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) (ending 2016). He was the founding chair of Kaggle which was sold to Google and is an investor in numerous other Australian and international start-ups. He was also founding chair of HealthKit (now Halaxy). He has advised Cabinet Ministers, sat on Australia’s Productivity Commission and founded Lateral Economics and Peach Financial in 2000.

Links relevant to the conversation

Re. BS jobs:

https://queenslandeconomywatch.com/2021/07/10/people-escaping-bs-jobs-covered-in-my-latest-podcast-episode-and-going-into-business-for-themselves/#comments

https://www.griffithreview.com/articles/trust-competition-delusion-gruen/

Re: CBDCs:

https://clubtroppo.com.au/2021/05/19/central-banks-get-serious-on-digital-currencies-2/

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/central-bank-digital-currency-cbdc.asp

https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/quarterly-bulletin/2014/q1/money-creation-in-the-modern-economy

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

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.

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