Under the bonnet, Germany is stalling

When Chancellor Merkel visits New Zealand or speaks at the G20, she will of course try to portray a very different image of her country. Unfortunately, the self-righteous self-image of Germany bears little resemblance with the cold, hard facts of its economy. [...]

Can Juncker survive ‘Lux Leaks’?

Whether Juncker’s political career will come to an abrupt end now depends entirely on whether he can sufficiently distance himself from the Lux Leaks revelations. Or indeed, whether those who elected him to his new office will award him a grace period regardless. [...]

Taking a gamble with negative interest rates

The ECB’s big experiment with negative interest rates is finally reaching ordinary people and two things are ironic about it: First, that it was a bank with a hint of gambling in its name which finally drove this message home. And second, that of all weeks in the calendar it had to happen during world savings week: the last week in October when European banks traditionally pretend they like to manage assets and encourage savings. If only. [...]

Fakebooking our world

Next time you visit a politician’s Facebook profile or Twitter account, do not be fooled that their working days consist mainly of kissing babies, cutting ribbons or speaking in Parliament. Who knows, they might have gone on a holiday around Cambodia instead. [...]

Land rules deter competition

Land regulations are a cost and concern to New Zealand businesses, and they are probably a factor affecting the cost of living through land prices and competition effects. [...]

Will the Swiss drive up gold prices?

If you are a gold bug, and if you think the majority of the Swiss are too, you might want to consider adding some of the yellow stuff to your portfolio. But be careful – even in Switzerland, referenda can result in surprises, and not every opinion poll that glitters is gold. [...]

Incentives to grow

We need a local government finance system that rewards councils that go for growth and punishes those that inhibit development. Our current rates system achieves the opposite – and that is what is wrong with rates. [...]

What is wrong with rates?

The current local government finance system might in fact incentivise a council against development. Extra residential or business development typically costs councils money as they have to provide additional infrastructure and services to make it happen. Meanwhile, the benefits for councils are at best indirect and at worst non-existent. [...]

Friday’s Top 10

Okay, so economists disagree on complex questions. That’s bad enough. But what’s even worse about economic literacy is the fact that ordinary people do not even know basic economic facts. [...]