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catallaxy in technical exile

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Fred Sautet on the backsliding Kiwis.

The New Zealand Government has recently announced that it has a plan to further regulate telecommunications, especially to un-bundle the “local loop” and to further regulate DSL. Whether New Zealand should un-bundle the local loop has been an object of contention for a while. When I was working at the Commerce Commission three years ago it was hotly debated, and the Telecommunications Commissioner had given advice against doing it. As far as I know, his position has not changed in the last few years.

As I argued in a recent paper of mine (Why Have Kiwis Not Become Tigers?), while New Zealand presents one of the best environment for doing business in the world (according to the World Bank Doing Business index), it is also sliding back, away from where it was a few years ago. Public Choice forces and stupid government thinking are slowly eroding what has been one of the greatest reform processes the world has seen in recent times.

Sudha Shenoy’s views on the importance of history and a reading list for would-be historians of economics.

A thin approach to empirical issues is what is rewarded in modern economics, as it is a more powerful and convenient way to test hypotheses. However, many—if not most—questions cannot find their answers through data crunching only. A thick approach is often more desirable. It consists of examining historical records and understanding the motivations of people in light of good theory. In this sense, historical analysis is the best way we have to talk to the witnesses of a period.

Jane Jacobs RIP.

Jane Jacobs passed away on Tuesday at the age of 89. Jacobs was one of the greatest independent scholars/intellectuals in the 20th century.

I first heard of Jacobs and her work through Sam Staley, when we were in graduate school together in the 1980s. Sam and Sanford Ikeda more recently edited a special volume of The Review of Austrian Economics on urban interventionism, which in a large part contrasts the appreciation of spontaneous order in the development of cities that one finds in Jacobs’s work with the urban planning approach that dominates government policy toward cities.

Peter Boettke meditates on the dilemmas of development economics.

I have always found myself in a strange position in the development policy debates. I am uneasy with government led development efforts, and yet the Washington consensus reflected an admission that privatization, monetary responsibility, fiscal restraint, and free trade out performed the older Keynesian recipes for development.

What exactly went wrong in the 1990s will be a topic for many a doctoral dissertation. Did Russia run into problems because of too much free market policy? Certainly that conclusion would be one that would stretch the truth. Hard to say that monetary restraint was the policy rule when the ruble went from 180R = $1 to over 5000R = $1. As I wrote in an Op-Ed in the Orange County Register in January 1993, Shock Therapy in Russia failed Because It Lacked Voltage, not because Shock Therapy fails on its own terms.

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Written by Admin

May 11, 2006 at 10:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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