National Economic Panel

 


 

ESA National Economic Panel Polls


 

About

Polls

Panellists

Got an Idea?

Author's Name: Uwe Dulleck
Date: Tue 12 Feb 2019

Uwe Dulleck

Professor Uwe Dulleck

Prof Dulleck obtained his PhD at Humboldt University Berlin in 1999. Before joining QUT, he was a Professor of Economics at the University of Linz, Austria and an Assistant Professor at the University of Vienna. His publications be found in the ‘American Economic Review’, ‘Journal of Economic Literature’, the ‘International Journal of Industrial Organization’, the ‘Economic Journal’, and the ‘Journal of Public Economics’, among others. His research has been discussed in the Economic Focus of ‘The Economist’, the ‘Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung’ (the Sunday edition of Germany’s leading quality newspaper), the Sydney Morning Herald, the Forbes Magazine, the Age, among others as well as radio and TV programs. Uwe was awarded four ARC Grants and is a co-investigator on two Austrian Research grants. He held visiting professorships at Universities in Linz, Berlin and Vienna and gave mini-courses for research students in the United States, Europe and China.

Subject Area Expertise

Behavioural Economics, Applied Microeconomics, Expert Services.

Website

http://staff.qut.edu.au/staff/dulleck/

 


Responses (34)


Royal Banking Commission (II) - February 2019

Poll 35

"There is no way to significantly increase the degree to which Australian retail banks act in the interests of consumers."

 

Disagree

9

I am not sure that the regulation of financial services and products will do the trick, but outcome/performance based regulation would make a difference. We can identify underperformance and publish observations and regulate minimum performance (ruling out clear misconduct, selling dominated products) is doable for a large share of customers.


Congestion pricing - November 2018

 

Agree

9

I am not sure whether we discuss the right problem, as a statement this is a double dividend argument - we gain by getting more efficiency into using a scarce resource and have revenue to reduce taxes. The economics is sound. The problem I see is in the political economy of the question ... we do not have a price on carbon for reasons that we do not want "new taxes" - the same debate will start on congestion pricing. Whether the political economy stacks up is the real challenge and there I am much more skeptical.


Banking Royal Commission and the Credit Crunch - October 2018

Poll 33

Proposition 1: "There is a significant risk that, either as a result of the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry or as a result of the financial institutions' response to those findings, credit will become less readily available to Australian households or businesses."

Proposition 2: "Assuming credit becomes less readily available to Australian households or businesses, this will in turn have adverse consequences for the performance of the Australian economy."

 

1 - Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)

2 - Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)

1 - This question has several aspects to consider. In general better regulation of banking services should increase the quality of service, thus increasing demand for the service and potentially leading to better investments. If we do trust our institutions, it may actually lead to better outcomes and maybe even more funds being available. If the regulation is implemented poorly, then yes this will increase costs to customers and credit will become less readily available ... but that this risk is larger than that new trust in the sector increases the supply of funds, is uncertain to me.

2 - I struggle with the premise. If currently the banking system is inefficient and (at least in some segments maybe even fraudulent) then getting this right may have a lot more benefits than costs to the economy. A more efficient banking system may even balance out the assumed drop in credit availability.


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

9

Relatively simple policy changes can help to make us use our resources much more efficiently. The focus on waste is just one way to achieve such efficiency gains. While we still may have enough space for landfill, the long term cost of this strategy is likely to be underestimated.


Electric vehicles and road-use pricing - June 2018

Poll 30

"Pricing of road-use for electric vehicles should be the same as fossil fuel-powered vehicles."

 

Agree

7

I am not sure whether I need to pick agree or disagree, it sounds that under current rules the same 'pricing of road-use' implies lower (or no) luxury car taxes for normal electric cars, i.e. the higher price should be reflected in the tax regime, whether this is currently done sufficiently is a good question. Another question is whether the (luxury) car tax purpose is to tax road use, that would be better done by taxing use not ownership. With modern technology it could be done based on km driven with a car, maybe multiplied by a factor depending on weight of the vehicle. If it is about road use and maintenance of the infrastructure, I guess, that all of this is not that important as heavy trucks will be the main issue. This question is then just about raising revenue for government. Is it the worst of all taxes? No! But it doesn't make too much sense to think about this purely from a 'user pays' perspective.


Will building more homes make housing cheaper? - May 2018

Poll 29

"A sustained increase in the number of new homes constructed each year, all else equal, will make housing cheaper than otherwise."

 

Strongly agree

10

Yes, the laws of demand and supply apply to housing as well. I may miss the subtlety in the question, "all else equal" is maybe problematic as it will be difficult to build more houses as close to city centers as we did in the past. Economics at its best?


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 - Disagree

2 - Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)

1 - The debt to GDP ratio itself is a poor measure off smart fiscal policy, it does depend a lot on the type of investments the government makes with the borrowed funds. Interest rates are low and good investments can increase future growth. These opportunities need to be carefully considered. There cannot be a simple choice regarding a priority.

2 - As above, we should think a bit further tax cuts (whether company or income) than just these two options.


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."

 

Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)

8

I find it difficult to predict the impact of these changes to US taxation. In the long term, I feel the uncertainty that we see around public policy under the current American administration may have more effects on investment than the tax cuts. Furthermore, it is unclear whether these changes are sustainable - I do expect them not to be. All of these reasons indicate for me that long term impact is unpredictable - as is most of US policy at the moment.


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."

 

Disagree

7

As always, it is not so much about the industry you work in but the extent to which your work is substitutable. For simple work in then digital economy (plain vanilla web development, but also proof reading, etc.) wages will drop as the international competition will bring down rates and it is difficult to see how to regulate against that. For customised and specialised work, and this in my [opinion] includes the social capital agents bring to the market, the effect will not lead to a downward pressure it may even lead to better and more opportunities.


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 - Agree

2 - Agree

1 - Maybe more important than the public good character of good journalism is that it gave us a common reality to have policy discussions. I am not sure that this problem is solved by publicly supported media that cannot compete with the ‘customized‘ social media newsfeed. Unfortunately the consumer prefers his/her own reality.

2 - Let’s put it slightly different, in a time we see cuts, I definitely think it would be good to have support for public stations. But, we may need to think about who is served by these stations and couldn’t they afford/ pay for the service w/o burdening the public at large?


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."

 

Agree

6

I am not sure whether this will make much of a difference but, if at all, having weddings and the parties that go with them will add to Australia's events and tourism industry. As friends said, lots of couples that do not need to have their weddings somewhere overseas (NZ, Canada ...) but can have them here.


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 - Disagree

B - Strongly Agree

On question A: I find it likely that further automation (robots and AI) will shift more employment towards personal service jobs, I find it likely that labor demand in these sectors will on the aggregate be more stable, hence people will transition quicker.

On question B : The crux is in the could ... as usual there will be more than enough gains from automation but that they will be shared in a way that allows the workers losing from this transition to be compensated is very unlikely.


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"

 

Agree

7

In principle, I do agree. (Smart) Investment in infrastructure (and education for that matter) are likely to pay for themselves in the future. This is particularly true in times that interest rates are low, and, maybe more importantly, the economy is slack. It is this latter aspect that in my eyes provides the limitations of this statement, if Australia waits too long it may crowd-out demand from the private sector.


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."

 

Disagree

8


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."

 

Disagree

9

To avoid a race to the bottom with respect to quality of service, I do indeed believe that for profit provision requires smarter regulation, forcing providers to be compensated at least partially on outcomes not inputs into the service (for education, think about part of the fees being only paid when a student has a job). If good regulation is in place, I do not think that the statement applies and the "usual" cost savings may realise.


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."

 

Agree

9

Government policies currently or in the past affected gender equality in the labour market - differences in parental leave are maybe the most obvious example - without changes to policies and/or citizen's expectations and perceptions at least in these areas, change will be difficult. Apart from that, I find the topic important enough to merit government intervention to speed up an otherwise slow process.


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."

 

Disagree

9

This type of intervention can only work in the short-term. For the long-term smarter regulation is needed to avoid ending up (dis-)favoring one source of energy over another.


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."

 

Strongly agree

9

Lower taxes on one form of investment over another will increase relative prices for the assets in question. Thus for reason of biasing investment decisions alone this is not a good policy (even when one ignores the public finance and distributional implications). Whether property prices are affected depends on the capacity of the construction industry and the elasticity of supply. I find it likely that the elasticity of supply is not sufficient to compensate for the overinvestment in this asset leading to increased property prices. The increase in supply may have beneficial effect on the rental market or at least in segments of the rental market. Unfortunately, given a shortage of supply, I do expect that rents have increased with the increase in housing prices.


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."

 

Agree

7

Not particular interesting this question, but yes, I am still believe it makes sense to understand the foundations first. I feel one of the more interesting questions is how this will change with the change of the micro curriculum given the advent of behavioural approaches. We may enter a time where its less clear that macro builds on micro.


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."

 

Agree

10

I do feel that a Trump presidency will have a strong impact on the world, and maybe most importantly for Australia, the Chinese economy. Given the role trade has for Australia, this Has to have direct effects on the Australian economy. In the long term one may argue that a Trump presidency may bring us to the end on the American hegemony, with China likely to taking the lead next. In the long term, this may be beneficial for the Australian economy (but there is a lot of uncertainty with regards to China's rise and what would be the impact of China's rise).


Social costs of gambling - December 2016

Poll 14

"The social costs of gambling exceed the benefits (including consumer surplus from recreational gambling and tax revenue for governments)."

 

Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)

8

I am not sure whether this statement is well crafted. The basic challenge is how to aggregate welfare across different individuals. Behavioural Economics tells us that gamblers hardest hit from an addiction to play suffer self control problems and most likely a revealed preferences argument does not apply, hence these gamblers do not only cost society but we cannot even be sure that they derive welfare out of this activity. Thus in this case we definitely have social costs that are higher than the benefit. If we assume that cognitive biases do not play a role (not a very reasonable assumption), we end up in a situation where the it all depends on how one aggregates costs and benefits, including government revenue from gambling. This aggregation problem is in my eyes the crux of the problem, who counts (what about family members that are adversely affected), how to compare monetary and non-monetary costs.To get back to Behavioural Economic arguments, I do feel that "Nudges" in this space can and should play a larger role. Allowing, even forcing, people to set unrestricted limits for the amount of money they want to spend on any night (when they are in cold state of decision making, i.e. before entering a hot state while gambling) are hard to argue against, if one believes in the rationality. Such interventions, would make it much easier to argue that gambling is likely to increase welfare and choices.


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.

 

Agree

10

I agree in principle - but we are taking very much an economics perspective here. I feel Behavioural Economics combines insights from behavioural sciences with the normative backbone of economics - that is the power it has. Having said that, its main contribution are not "useful insights into individual behaviour", that is only true for the economists who worked for too long with the fictitious character of the homo economics, the main contribution is identifying "inefficiencies" resulting from cognitive biases and providing solutions how to help people to make better decisions affecting their health, wealth and happiness (to cite Thaler and Sunstein).


Immigration - November 2016

Poll 12

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

 

Agree

8

Migrants are, by and large, highly motivated people. As such they are very likely to contribute to society if we let them.


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 - Strongly disagree

10

No question, we do not want a Department/Ministry of Truth (ala Orwell's 1984) but a) any choices that government presents to its people will come with one form of choice architecture or another, using behavioural insights just says, we should use scientific approach to design these choices; b) is where the economists come in, at least in the spirit of Thaler and Sunstein, Nudge is about presenting choices to people in a different way, i.e. it is not about ruling out options, it is about helping people to make better decisions for themselves and society; c) this is where Economists come in 'Nudge' in my eyes is that we identify decisions that are likely not rational or unintended by the individual and help them to make better decisions. As an example if a superannuation system does provide "free money" to people that sign up (opt-in), and only 50% do so, I feel we can be certain that this is due to a bias, an changing the system to an opt-out instead of an opt-in as a nudge, is simply not unethical. There may be cases where more oversight is needed, but where we stand at the moment, not helping people to make better decisions for themselves and their families when we know that they (and we all) fall victims to cognitive biases that are part of our nature is in my eyes unethical.

PART 2 - Strongly disagree

10

No question, we do not want a Department/Ministry of Truth (ala Orwell's 1984) but a) any choices that government presents to its people will come with one form of choice architecture or another, using behavioural insights just says, we should use scientific approach to design these choices; b) is where the economists come in, at least in the spirit of Thaler and Sunstein, Nudge is about presenting choices to people in a different way, i.e. it is not about ruling out options, it is about helping people to make better decisions for themselves and society; c) this is where Economists come in 'Nudge' in my eyes is that we identify decisions that are likely not rational or unintended by the individual and help them to make better decisions. As an example if a superannuation system does provide "free money" to people that sign up (opt-in), and only 50% do so, I feel we can be certain that this is due to a bias, an changing the system to an opt-out instead of an opt-in as a nudge, is simply not unethical. There may be cases where more oversight is needed, but where we stand at the moment, not helping people to make better decisions for themselves and their families when we know that they (and we all) fall victims to cognitive biases that are part of our nature is in my eyes unethical.


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

Given how difficult it is to set long term goals for any part of government, I believe it would be a mistake to change the focus of the RBA from inflation to economic growth. Nominal economic growth seems to be a mistake for sure. The reason for the lower level of confidence and the "disagree" instead of a "strongly disagree" comes from the fact that with a short-term perspective, it may make sense in the current situation to consider changing targets for a limited time. Again, I feel the political process is beyond short term changes. In that respect, I feel the suggested alternative cannot be supported.


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."

 

Strongly disagree

9

While I am uncertain about the effect on Europe, I am pretty convinced that leaving the EU is bad for the average UK citizen. Investment in the UK will drop as companies do not like to be exposed to two sets of regulation, I expect this to happen in manufacturing as well as in financial services. This has to be counteracted by changes/reductions in company taxation (as discussed already) to compensate. These will have direct adverse effects, some of them with ongoing effect as services, including health and education, provided decrease. All of this leads me to expect not only a recession in the short to medium term but also an ongoing loss in economic growth.


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

4

This is a difficult question and I guess personal beliefs will play a bigger role than what economics can tell us. I do believe that investment in education has very high returns and I believe where Australian business currently sits (the still existing focus on resources) the payoffs from good investments in education are likely to outperform the effect of additional incentives in the form of low taxes for companies.


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."

 

Disagree

8

I don't think Australia faces the budget emergency that is/was mentioned frequently in the past. Given that I see Australia still on a growth trajectory (if only due to ongoing population growth via net-immigration) there is no urgency to reduce debt levels - which are anyway low in international comparison. So, as long as Australia does not go on a (sustained) spending spree, there are no major risks to its economy.


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

9

Whatever (positive) happens in China will be beneficial to the Australian economy, this follows simply from the sheer size of China compared to the Australian economy. That Australia is a "big" exporter of education (and that situated in a nice and save environment) is just an additional benefit.


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."

 

Uncertain (neither agree nor disagree)

9


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."

 

Disagree

8

I do believe that the climate towards innovation is not the best in Australia. Such a bias can be seen as an externality on the business. A tax incentive could be a way to offset this bias. In this sense, I see that such incentives may increase efficiency in the way the Australian economy operates. The big challenge is how to define the technologies and businesses that merit the tax break.


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

Yes, if you believe that a Xmas present is about "transferring" something to someone else, then money would be the better present (at best you could do as well with your present as this person could do with money) but, presents are a signal that you care about the other person, the more personal a present is "picked"/the more effort you put into the process, the better the present ... once we talk about signalling and how important that is, we are ultimately wrong with "money as the best present".


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."

 

Strongly agree

9

This is a bit of Economics 101 that is very likely to work, the harder judgement is to judge whether a) this is wanted per se (taking family time from at least some families but offering more potential for joint experiences to others - hopefully also at lower prices) and b) whether one supports the implied redistribution of surplus away from workers that currently enjoy higher penalty rates on Sunday. But both of these do not affect that it will increase employment and service available on Sundays.