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LEANZ, Law and Economics in New Zealand

Seminars 2015

2015 Seminars

18 and 24 November 2015 - Environmental Markets: Lessons from and for Fisheries Management

Speaker: Professor Terry Anderson
Date: 18 (Wellington) and 24 (Auckland) November 2015
Venue: Chapman Tripp Wellington and Auckland

A copy of the presentation is here
A YouTube of Professor Anderson's presentation given at Canterbury University is available here: http://www.econ.canterbury.ac.nz/condliffe/

About the topic:

Increased demand for environmental amenities and competition for scarce natural resources require rethinking how we manage our natural environment. The dominant management institutions have focused on top-down command-and-control regulations. Though some of these regulations have been successful in picking low-hanging environmental fruit – especially in reducing air and water emissions – they have not harnessed private initiative by using property rights and markets. This approach under the banner of “free market environmentalism” shows remarkable promise for dealing with a variety of environmental problems. Fisheries management in New Zealand illustrates the potential for this approach if the necessary market institutions can be buttressed and improved. In short, environmental markets offer a promising alternative for the next generation of environmentalism.

About the speaker: Terry Anderson is the William A. Dunn Distinguished Senior Fellow and former President and Executive Director of PERC, as well as the John and Jean De Nault Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He believes that market approaches can be both economically sound and environmentally sensitive. His research helped launch the idea of free market environmentalism and has prompted public debate over the proper role of government in managing natural resources. He is the co-chair of Hoover's Property Rights, Freedom, and Prosperity Task Force. 


20 October 2015 - Should Customer-owned Monopolies face Different Regulation than Investor-owned Firms?

Speaker: Richard Meade
Tuesday, 20 October 2015
Meredith Connell, Wellington

A copy of the presentation is here: Presentation

About the topic:

Electricity regulators recognise that regulating for efficiency can cause sacrifices in service quality. However, they are yet to determine how to trade off efficiency and quality. Also, many regulated firms are customer-owned, such as electricity lines companies in New Zealand. This means they pursue different objectives to investor-owned firms, changing the rationale for regulation, and its effectiveness. This seminar shows that customer ownership changes the efficiency-quality regulation of network monopolies, such as electricity, gas or water distributors. Customer-owned firms optimally set weaker performance incentives for their managers than investor-owned firms. This predicts higher quality but lower efficiency in customer-owned firms, although regulation can serve to reverse this. Such firms also present regulators with extra paths to influence managers. Failing to account for these ownership differences risks regulation creating unnecessary distortions. On the flipside, the presence of customer ownership suggests a way to optimally determine regulators’ efficiency-quality trade-off.

About the speaker:

Richard is Principal of economic consultancy Cognitus Advisory Services Limited, a Senior Research Fellow at AUT University, and lecturer at University of Auckland. He founded Cognitus in 2002, which provides economic advice, analysis, research and representation, including in antitrust and regulation. This followed a first career in investment banking, working mainly in M&A and valuation. Richard’s AUT research focuses on antitrust and regulation, as well as contracting and incentives. Previously he was a Research Principal at the New Zealand Institute for the Study of Competition and Regulation (ISCR). His main research there was on electricity sector organisation and regulation. Richard recently returned to New Zealand after completing five years at Toulouse School of Economics. There he was awarded a PhD in industrial organisation and regulation, with Distinction.



14 September 2015: Re-thinking New Zealand Dairy

Speaker: Keith Woodford
Date: Monday, 14 September 2015
Venue: Bell Gully, Wellington

A copy of the presentation is here: Presentation

The New Zealand dairy environment is changing. Markets are changing due to changing consumer demand and disruptive technologies. In addition, new regulator systems will mean that the physical environment will no longer be an unpriced externality. However, currently much of the New Zealand dairy industry is caught like a possum in the headlights, with key industry groups paralysed by group think and an apparent inability to reshape to face the future.  There is need for an informed debate as to alternative strategies.

About the speaker:

Keith Woodford is an independent consultant and Honorary Professor of Agri-Food Systems at Lincoln University.  Previously he was Professor of Farm Management and Agribusiness at Lincoln University. His interests span from human nutrition and consumer demand back to animal production and system sustainability.  He has worked in more than 20 countries on rural development and related projects, and he has a particular interest in the transition of the Chinese economy and the implications for New Zealand.  He is a regular commentator in the media and also writes at his own website http://keithwoodford.wordpress.com.  His current projects range from grassland systems on the Tibetan Plateau to innovative dairy systems in New Zealand. His book Devil in the Milk has been published both in New Zealand and the USA.

9 September 2015:  Quantitative Techniques for Competition Analysis:  An Overview, and Application to the Z Energy / Chevron Merger

Speaker:  Dr Lydia Cheung, AUT University Department of Economics
Date: Wednesday, 9 September 2015
Venue: AUT, Auckland

A copy of the presentation is here:  Presentation

This seminar provides a summary, for non-economists as well as economists, of the state of the art on quantitative techniques used internationally in competition analysis. Topics include demand estimation, market definition, market structure and conduct, and merger simulation. The discussion emphasises how each of these tools can be practically used to support competition analysis. The proposed Z Energy / Chevron merger is used to demonstrate how these tools can be applied. 

About the speaker:

Lydia has been a lecturer in Economics at AUT since 2013. She has a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Minnesota. During her graduate studies, she spent a year at Amazon.com in Seattle as research scientist, working under the chief economist. She conducts research in empirical Industrial Organization, including on the Upward Pricing Pressure test, a new screen for proposed mergers.

24 August 2015: Inequality in New Zealand

Speaker: Max Rashbrooke
Date: Monday, 24 August 2015
Venue: Russell McVeagh, Wellington

A copy of the presentation is here: Presentation

Between the mid-1980s and the mid-2000s, New Zealand experienced the biggest increase in income gaps of any developed country. As the country has become increasingly aware of that dramatic shift, incomeinequality has turned into one of the key political and economic issues of our time. In this talk, Max Rashbrooke explains just how unequal New Zealand has become, why it has happened and why we might be concerned. He also discusses the competing visions for addressing income inequality. There will be time for questions and debate after the presentation.  

About the speaker:

Max Rashbrooke is the editor of Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis, published in June 2013 by Bridget Williams Books, and the author of 'The Inequality Debate: An Introduction', published in July 2014. A research associate at the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies, he has also written stories for national newspapers and magazines in Britain and New Zealand, including the National Business Review, the Guardian and Metro. He is also a 2015 Winston Churchill fellow.


28 July 2015: Investor/State Arbitration, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and New Zealand

Speaker: Daniel Kalderimis
Date: Tuesday 28 July 2015
Venue: Chapman Tripp, Wellington

A copy of the presentation is here: Presentation

The TPP negotiations are set to conclude later this year, following the US Congress’ decision to grant fast-track authority to President Obama. 

One of the thorniest issues in those negotiations is the investment chapter, which is likely to provide a mechanism for US and other investors to sue the New Zealand Government for breach of international investment rules.  Why include this mechanism?  How novel is it?  How risky is it for the Government?  Should it cause New Zealand to rethink its participation in the TPP? 

Daniel Kalderimis will discuss current issues in investor-state claims and offer accessible thoughts on what the TPP investment chapter may mean for New Zealand.   

About the speaker:

Daniel Kalderimis is a litigation partner at Chapman Tripp and is a recognised expert in international investment law. He has appeared as counsel in the only investor-state case heard in New Zealand.  


25 June 2015: Housing Affordability and the Reserve Bank

Speaker: Michael Reddell
Date: Thursday 25 June 2015
Buddle Findlay, State Insurance Building, 1 Willis Street, Wellington

A copy of the presentation is here: Housing Affordability and the Reserve Bank

House prices, especially in Auckland, have become increasingly unaffordable. This is largely the outcome of the collision between two sets of public policies: restrictions on land use which impede new housing supply, and high target levels of inward migration of non-citizens. One or other policy might make sense, but the combination has very adverse effects on the younger and poorer elements of the population of our largest city. It is a real phenomenon rather than a financial one, and the pressures can only be sustainably alleviated by government action in these policy areas. The Reserve Bank appears to have taken on itself some responsibility for trying to manage house price fluctuations. However, the Bank's involvement appears to be based on a misconception of what is going on, and a misapplication of insights from financial crises abroad, notably that in the United States last decade. There is little or no evidence that financial stability in New Zealand is in any way threatened. The LVR restrictions - and others the Bank appears to be contemplating - undermine the efficiency of the financial system. They may also be slightly impairing its soundness. Parliament should be asking harder questions about whether such uses of regulatory powers, especially by a single unelected official, are appropriate.
About the speaker:
Michael Reddell spent 30+ years on the staff of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. In that time he worked in a wide range of the Bank's areas of responsibility, including as manager responsible for economic forecasting and as Head of Financial Markets. He was a long-term member of key internal committees responsible for advising the Governor on monetary policy, and on financial regulatory matters.
In the course of his career, Michael spent two years each as resident economic adviser to the central banks of Papua New Guinea and Zambia, and from 2003 to 2005 he was Alternate Executive Director on the Board of the International Monetary Fund. He also spent two years from 2008 to 2010 on secondment to the Treasury involved in issues from the design of the guarantee schemes during the crisis to assisting the 2025 Taskforce on identifying possible policy options to close the income gap with Australia.
Michael now blogs on economics and policy issues at www.croakingcassandra.com



21 April 2015: Retirement income policies in New Zealand - what really matters 

Speakers:   Michael Littlewood and Andrew Coleman

Date:           Tuesday 21 April 2015

Venue:        Simpson Grierson, Level 24 HSBC Tower, 195 Lambton Quay, Wellington

Two experts, Michael Littlewood from the University of Auckland and Andrew Coleman from the New Zealand Treasury and the University of Otago, will each speak about their vision for New Zealand’s retirement income policies. This will be followed by an opportunity for audience engagement.

Michael Littlewood will speak about how New Zealand faces an ageing population but has one of the most sustainable and effective sets of retirement income policies in the developed world.  That does not mean those policies are ‘right’.  We need to discuss all aspects of the public policy environment from first principles to test their suitability for the 21st century. The government should focus its public policy attention on the things that only governments can do.  That does not include building up a pool of investments or forcing people to save or offering incentives to save for retirement.  So, what can (should) governments do?  How do we get a discussion going on the things that actually matter?

A copy of Michael Littlewood's presentation is here


Andrew Coleman will outline the framework developed fifty years ago by several Nobel prize winning economists that focussed on the intergenerational consequences of government expenditure programmes. This framework has been central to the  analysis of government retirement income programmes as it established two principles:

(i)  The government has a comparative advantage over the private sector in managing the risks associated with retirement income: as it is indefinitely lived, it can use its balance sheet to absorb asset market fluctuations, and  as it has the power of taxation  it can transfer risk within generations and between generations in a manner that is not otherwise possible.

(ii) Retirement incomes can be funded on a pay-as-you-go or a save-as-you-go basis. If the economy is dynamically efficient (ie if the return to capital exceeds the growth rate of the economy),  government programmes funded on a pay-as-you-go basis result in large transfers between generations as they impose large opportunity costs on young and future generations.

In this talk, Andrew will go on to discuss how these two principles should shape the structure of retirement income policies in New Zealand. He argues that while the benefits structure of New Zealand Superannuation has many desirable features, when it is largely funded on a pay-as-you-go basis it imposes costs on future generations that seem unduly onerous, and which may not reflect the desires of a majority of New Zealanders. Different means to reduce the extent of pay-as-you-go funding (and increase save-as-you go funding) are examined. He will also consider the potential advantages of the government assisting individuals to better manage the risks they face by providing them with the option to purchase annuities from the government at actuarially fair rates.

 A copy of Andrew Coleman's presentation is here


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