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E-con? Economics and Irrationality

Economic models of old can’t explain why anyone would buy a lottery ticket. But using behavioural economics, we might one day be able to fully model human behaviour, writes Jesse Condie.

A brief history of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences

The 2013 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences was announced on October 15 and won by a trio of financial economists: Eugene Fama, Robert Shiller and Lars Peter Hansen. Fama is the mastermind behind the ‘efficient-market hypothesis’, which will be familiar to all who have taken at least a first-year finance subject, whilst Shiller is a primary critic of the hypothesis and instead espouses the idea of ‘irrational exuberance’ in markets (read: stock markets are generally overvalued as investors underestimate the risk of incurring a loss).

Read moreA brief history of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences

The US government shutdown – any end in sight?

What a joke.
Really, there isn’t anything else that can be said about the latest fiscal crisis in the United States. With the federal government shutting down most operations on the 1st of October, as the House of Representatives (controlled by the Republicans) and the Senate (controlled by the Democrats) couldn’t agree on a Continuing Resolution for the 2014 fiscal year.

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The economics of happiness

The number of Americans who said, ‘yes, I am happy with my life’ peaked in 1956, but ever since then has fallen slowly but steadily. During this time our levels of world GDP per capita have increased dramatically, and according to the non-satiation principle of conventional microeconomics, our experience of higher utility means that should all be happier – yes?
We live in a finite world of perpetual economic growth. Levels of material wellbeing have never been so high. The walls between trading nations have been removed thanks to globalisation and technology. Why then does the economically paradoxical notion of ‘happy peasants and frustrated millionaires’ exist? Happiness economics takes a new approach to assessing welfare based on expansive notions of utility. Conventional economics has the aim of the efficient allocation of scarce resources to satisfy infinite needs. If increasing utility does not fundamentally achieve individual happiness, then what is the point of it all?

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Election 2013 – let’s talk tax reform!

This article forms part of an ongoing series looking at economic issues as Australia heads into the Federal Election. More coverage can be found on the Election 2013 page of ESSA’s website.
This election campaign has already seen its fair share of gaffes, negative ads and costings claims. Perhaps it’s time we debated the pressing need to reform our tax system, starting with the GST.

The Problem

As I watched ABC’s Q&A Monday episode, The National Economic Debate, I sat despairing at yet another missed opportunity to talk ambitiously about policy reforms in Australia. After an excellent question from the crowd about the merits of reforming the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to broaden its base and potentially increase the rate (whilst concurrently reducing and eliminating other inefficient and distortionary taxes), both Treasurer Chris Bowen and Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey manoeuvred their way out of discussing what is a sensible reform. It was arguably the most disappointing element of what was a very entertaining and substantive debate between Bowen and Hockey that covered the breadth of economic issues facing Australia.

Read moreElection 2013 – let’s talk tax reform!