National Economic Panel

 


 

ESA National Economic Panel Polls


 

About

Polls

Panellists

Got an Idea?

Author's Name: Harry Bloch
Date: Tue 12 Feb 2019

Harry Bloch

Professor Harry Bloch

Harry Bloch is currently John Curtin Distinguished Emeritus at Curtin University. He was previously Professor of Economics (1997 to 2012) and Dean for Research and Development (2012) in the Curtin Business School as well as founding director of Director of the Centre for Research in Applied Economics (2006 to 2009). He previously held academic positions at the University of Tasmania, University of Denver (USA), University of Manitoba (Canada) and University of British Columbia (Canada). He has a BA from the University of Michigan and MA and PhD from the University of Chicago. He has been editor of the Economic Record (2002 to 2006); a member of the Australian Research Council, College of Experts, Social, Behavioural and Economics panel (2008-2010) and Laureates Selection Advisory Committee (2013). He is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and an Honorary Fellow of the Economic Society of Australia.

Subject Area Expertise

Industrial organisation, international trade, development economics and the history of economic thought.

Website

http://business.curtin.edu.au/contact/staff_directory/index.cfm/Harry.Bloch


Responses (30)


Congestion pricing - November 2018

 

Agree

8


Waste Policy - August 2018

Poll 32

"There are clear net benefits for Australians from (further) increasing the diversion of waste from Australian landfills."

 

Strongly agree

10

There is a standard market failure argument that householders and at least some businesses don't pay the incremental pecuniary costs of the waste they have picked up from their premises, much less any of the substantial environmental costs. Even where waste removal charges are separately indicated on council rate notices, the charge is compulsory (no opt-out provision) and is independent of the quantity of waste picked up from the premise.


Australian Federal Budget 2018 - Reduce government debt or provide tax cuts? - April 2018

Poll 28

Proposition 1: "Slowing the growth in the debt to GDP ratio should be a priority for Australian governments."

Proposition 2: "Slowing the growth in the debt to GDP ratio is a higher priority than income or corporate tax cuts."

 

1 - Strongly disagree

2 - Strongly disagree

1 - Australia has among the lowest ratios of national government debt to GDP of all developed countries, which is unusual given the relatively high rate of population growth here. High population growth requires extra infrastructure. Just as a young and growing family generally relies on mortgage debt to provide housing, rapidly growing countries generally incur government debt to provide infrastructure. Growing populations provide growing output and government revenue, which can be used to pay off debt. Having the current population pay for the infrastructure needs of the future is like having parents buy houses for their offspring, not unheard of but not normal.

2 - The most immediate need for government revenues is to provide funding for expensive new programs, including the NDIS and the Gonski reforms to education funding, without stripping funding from other important programs, such as Medicare. Eventually, bracket creep will raise Commonwealth revenues as a share of GDP to a level sufficient to provide proper funding of all these programs and there will be an opportunity for cuts to personal income tax to compensate for bracket creep.


US corporate tax cuts - March 2018

Poll 27

"The recent US corporate tax cuts will have no impact on investments in and capital flows into Australia."

 

Agree

8

Saying "no" impact is a bit strong, but whatever impact occurs would be too small to be measurable by standard methods. Multinational firms have shown themselves very adept at avoiding profit taxes or at least transferring them to low-profit jurisdictions, whether Google or Apple take their profits in Ireland or the US will have little impact on their activities in Australia.


Gig economy and worker welfare - February 2018

Poll 26

"The wages and conditions of Australian workers providing services in sectors affected by the rapid growth of digital on-demand subcontracting platforms will, on average, be expected to fall without further government intervention."

 

Agree

8

The lack of government protections to remuneration and working conditions in the gig economy is likely to lead to continued erratic and substandard incomes for many of the workers who are being treated as independent contractors. This may very well spill over into downward pressure on wages and working conditions for workers who are treated as employees under current regulations, although many of these workers are already receiving close to minimum legal rates of pay and working under insecure arrangements with variable hours of work. Effective action to ensure the gig economy doesn't undermine community standards regarding the conditions of work requires much more research on current practices and conditions to determine the full extent of the threat and devise regulatory regimes to ensure all workers in Australia have a fair go.


Journalism as a public good - January 2018

Poll 25

Proposition 1: "The modern phenomena of information overload and social-media-fuelled 'fake news' bring into focus the value of quality journalism. Quality journalism has a public-good dimension that warrants public support."

Proposition 2: "The Australian government presently provides funding for the ABC and SBS, Australia's independent public broadcasters. The Australian government should increase its financial support of quality journalism."

 

1 - Strongly agree

2 - Agree


Same sex marriage - November 2017

Poll 24

"Assuming that the law will be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry in Australia, this will generate net economic benefits for the nation as a whole over the next 10 years."

 

Strongly agree

8


Robots, artificial intelligence and the 'future of work' - October 2017

Poll 23

Question A: "Holding labor market institutions and job training fixed, rising use of robots and artificial intelligence is likely to increase substantially the number of workers in Australia who are unemployed for long periods."

Question B: "Rising use of robots and artificial intelligence in Australia is likely to create benefits large enough that they could be used to compensate those workers who are substantially negatively affected for their lost wages."

 

A - Strongly disagree

B - Agree


Public borrowing for infrastructure investment - September 2017

Poll 22

"As interest rates are at low levels by historical standards, federal and state governments, despite their public debt levels, should be borrowing more than they currently are to invest in infrastructure"

 

Strongly agree

9

Borrowing to provide infrastructure is justifiable whether interest rates are high or low given that future generations are the primary beneficiaries of improved infrastructure. Moreover, the same argument applies to spending on education and research. The more important issue is whether the infrastructure is worthy in terms of those future benefits versus the current costs in terms of foregone opportunities.


The Finkel Review - August 2017

Poll 21

"The Finkel Review has recommended a mandatory certificate scheme that obliges electricity retailers to purchase a certain proportion of the electricity they sell from sources of electricity whose emission intensity is below a defined level. This is preferable to conventional approaches to the pricing of externalities, such as an emission tax or cap and trade scheme."

 

Agree

7

A major advantage of the mandatory certificate scheme is that it is likely to encourage investment in renewable energy generation. Both retailers and energy suppliers will have incentives to enter into long-term contracts for the supply of renewable energy sufficient to meet the mandatory certificate requirements. If the terms on offer for renewable energy and more favourable than those available for non-renewable energy, retailers have the option to contract for more than the mandated requirements. Uncertainty about the future price of electricity under possible emissions taxes or cap and trade schemes are contributing to the current negative investment climate for energy production from both renewable and non-renewable sources. This adds to the negative impact on investment from the  political impasse regarding the adoption of a sustainable policy for emissions control.


Does privatisation of human services hurt outcomes? - July 2017

Poll 20

"For-profit provision of human services like health and education leads to poor client outcomes and high costs to government."

 

Agree

7

This is a strong statement on an issue that has, unfortunately, not been subject to systematic evaluation. Governments have too readily relied on ideological suppositions and hidden behind commercial-in-confidence rather than subjecting private provision of education and health services to critical evaluation. There is substantial anecdotal evidence of poor outcomes for clients and high costs to government to weigh against contrary examples. In the absence of systematic evaluation, we are left to choose among anecdotes or rely on more general understanding of the efficiency and efficacy of public and private enterprise.


Gender diversity in the workplace - role of government? - June 2017

Poll 19

"The recent Parliamentary Inquiry into "Gender segregation in the workplace and its impact on women's economic equality" was asked to examine measures to encourage women?s participation in male-dominated occupations and industries. Although there is growing awareness of the productivity gains of gender diversity, the private market alone is unlikely to steer the Australian labour market toward gender equality in male-dominated industries. Breaking down gender segregation in the labour market can only be achieved with some degree of government intervention."

 

Strongly agree

8

The statement is overly dogmatic in insisting that gender equality can "only" be achieved with government intervention, but government intervention would certainly be useful for achieving this highly desirable objective.


Australian Federal Budget 2017 - Outsourcing Economic Forecasting - May 2017

Poll 18

"Given the Commonwealth Treasury?s ongoing difficulty in making accurate forecasts of some of the key economic variables underpinning the Budget ? in particular nominal GDP growth ? the Government should ?outsource? the economic forecasts used in framing the Budget to an independent agency (such as the Parliamentary Budget Office), as now happens in the United Kingdom."

 

Disagree

8


Energy shortages - reserving Australian gas - April 2017

Poll 17

"In response to energy shortages around Australia, government policies requiring gas producers to reserve some production for domestic consumption are a good way to ensure that Australian consumers have access to sufficient gas supplies while still allowing for gas exports."

 

Agree

8

Australia is suffering the effects of poor planning in the energy sector, especially with regards to the approval of export LNG plants without assurance of sufficient supplies of natural gas. This leaves the country exposed to the ironic position of being a major exporter of gas even though domestic customers are faced with prices far exceeding those paid by customers in gas-importing countries. Requiring a substantial proportion of any new gas supply be provided to the domestic market is a second-best solution to this situation and could have some disincentive effect on developing new gas fields (although not if the domestic prices remains above the export price). The alternative of doing nothing would jeopardise the international competitiveness of domestic manufacturers who are heavy users of natural gas as a fuel source or feedstock.


CGT deductions - March 2017

Poll 16

"Capital gains tax deductions for housing investment should be removed because they overstimulate the housing market, contributing to rising house prices."

 

Agree

10

My reason for agreeing with removal of capital gains tax concessions for housing investments is based on equity considerations rather than the nebulous idea that the housing market is "overstimulated". I'd be surprised if the capital gains concessions have much impact on the quantity of housing available, although perhaps some impact on its composition. There is an important concession available to all investors in capital assets through not having to declare any income until the asset is sold. That benefit and the use of negative gearing likely have much more impact on individual decisions to invest in housing than does the capital gains tax concession. Paying a bit more tax when the houses are eventually sold seems a modest contribution from investors to the public purse.


Economics teaching - micro before macro - February 2017

Poll 15

"It is more effective to teach an introductory course in micro-economics first before an introductory course in macro-economics."

 

Strongly disagree

8


2016 US Election - November 2016

Poll 13

"Hillary Clinton is likely to be the superior US presidential candidate for the Australian economy and for Australia."

 

Strongly agree

8

Australian exports to the US are exposed to the threat of protectionist policies promised by Trump to say nothing of the potential for unsettling world financial markets.


Part 1: 'Behavioural economics provides new and useful insights into individual behaviour.' Part 2: 'It is unethical for governments to use behavioural economics to

The total benefit of current levels* of migration to Australia will outweigh the total costs to Australia's economy.

 

Strongly agree

9

We need to better understand the drivers and complexities of individual behaviour.


Immigration - November 2016

Poll 12

'The total benefit of current levels* of migration to Australia will outweigh the total costs to Australia's economy'.

 

Strongly agree

8


Behavioural economics - September 2016

Poll 11

Part 1: 'Behavioural economics provides new and useful insights into individual behaviour.'

Part 2: 'It is unethical for governments to use behavioural economics to "nudge" citizens.'

 

PART 1 - Disagree

7

No clear difference between nudging and using taxes or subsidies to influence behaviour.

PART 2 - Disagree

7

No clear difference between nudging and using taxes or subsidies to influence behaviour.


RBA economic growth targets - August 2016

Poll 10

"The Reserve Bank of Australia should be tasked with targeting nominal economic growth rather than inflation."

 

Disagree

7

A target in terms of real economic growth would be a reasonable alternative to a target in terms of inflation for it is real economic growth that delivers the goods to support a improved standard of living. Of course, whether the RBA is able to exert more than a weak and indirect influence on either the inflation rate or real economic growth is open to serious doubt.


The Brexit - impact on UK citizens - July 2016

Poll 9

"Assuming it is implemented, Brexit will deliver net economic benefits, on average, to UK citizens within its first 5 years."

 

Disagree

7

London's role as an international financial centre will almost surely decline. Whether there will be any offsetting gains from a cheaper pound remains to be seen.


Spend on education or business tax cut - June 2016

Poll 8

"Australia will receive a bigger economic growth dividend in the long-run by spending on education than offering an equivalent amount of money on a tax cut to business."

 

Agree

8

In the intermediate run, the relative impact on growth of education spending and tax cuts depends on their respective impact on productivity. Education increases the ability of the future labour force to function effectively in the workplace and, critically, to imagine better ways of doing things (innovation). Tax cuts may stimulate more investment, which can expand production and increase the effectiveness of labour. Given that we have experienced a long period in which human ingenuity has apparently contributed more to economic growth than accumulation of machines, my bet is on a smarter population rather than more machines. The long run is not a particularly useful concept for policy analysis as by the time it arrives the world will be fundamentally different than what was expected. Hence, Keynes' famous comment that in the long run we are all dead.


Budget 2016-17 - Returning to surplus - May 2016

Poll 7

"The recently released 2016-17 Commonwealth Budget projects that the Australian Government's underlying cash balance will return to surplus by 2020?21*. Australian politicians should rebalance the budget with greater urgency."

 

Strongly disagree

8

The time to repair government budgets is when the private economy is growing strongly, not when it is stagnating. Now is the time for investing in the nation's future, particularly in education as a well educated population is central to both productivity and creativity. Infrastructure investment is also important, but this is mostly hidden from the budget bottom line.


China services boom for Australia? - April 2016

Poll 6

"As the Chinese economy makes its transition from investment-led to consumption led growth, the Australian service sector which currently accounts for around 20% of total exports, will produce a second 'Chinese economic windfall' for Australians."

 

Agree

8

There are already substantial service exports to China in the form of inbound tourism and Chinese students studying in Australia. There is little doubt that both export streams will continue to expand over the next few years. There are also opportunities in business, financial and legal services as China becomes more integrated into the global economy. However, Australia's comparative advantage in exporting these services is less clear than in the case of the resource exports.


Efficiency of tax Government investments in major sporting events - February/March 2016

Poll 5

"Government investments in major sporting events usually generate net benefits for the city or region where the investment is made."

 

No opinion

5


Efficiency of tax incentives - February 2016

Poll 4

"New tax incentives for investments in technology and innovation businesses and start-ups are likely to be inefficient."

 

Strongly disagree

10

The statement that "the incentives are likely to be inefficient" is purely ideological. The standard theory of the efficiency of the allocation of scarce resources among competing assumes market mechanisms that are well informed and competitive. Investments in technology and start-up businesses are plagued with fundamental uncertainty, asymmetric information, moral hazard and underdeveloped markets. Thus, the standard theory provides no scientific basis for assessing the efficiency of tax incentives for such investments.


Bah Humbug Australia - December 2015

Poll 3

"Giving specific presents as holiday gifts is inefficient, because recipients could satisfy their preferences much better with cash."

 

Strongly disagree

10

As we approach the silly season, it is appropriate to have a silly question. Applying efficiency evaluation to gift giving demonstrates brilliantly the limits of the homo economics conception. Imposing restrictions on the recipient's use of purchasing power is inefficient in this conception. Human beings are more complex, they have emotions and emotional intelligence. Through choosing a gift, the giver demonstrates an understanding of the interests and needs of the recipient, thereby indicating regard, perhaps even love, for the recipient. A gift of purchasing power shows a low level of emotional engagement.


Penalty Rates Reform - November 2015

Poll 2

"Aligning Sunday penalty rates for hospitality, entertainment and retailing industries with the current levels for Saturday, as proposed in the Productivity Commission's draft report, will lead to more employment and greater availability of services in these industries on Sundays."

 

Agree

7

The question ignores the potential impacts elsewhere in the economy. Declining penalty rates reduce the income and expenditure of those already working on Sundays unless fully compensated by higher hours. Also, higher trading on Sundays may simply divert expenditures from other days, leading to employment losses on those days.