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‘Insights’ is the weekly newsletter of The New Zealand Initiative. Every Friday it provides comment pieces on domestic and global policy issues and the state of the world as such. It is a newsletter serious enough for a think tank – and lighthearted enough for an enjoyable Friday afternoon read. Please subscribe to ‘Insights’ by visiting the website of The New Zealand Initiative:

Humility rediscovered

To restrain yourself and not take yourself too seriously; to accept that one may be wrong and others right; to be tolerant of different opinions; and to meet in a spirit of equality and politeness – these are not religious demands but in fact the foundations of a free, civil society. [...]

Language competence is a benefit

For countries whose official language is English, there may not be the immediate business imperative to learn other languages since world trade is dominated by English. Despite this, other English-speaking countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia are realising the benefits of language instruction and promoting second languages at school. [...]

An Italian hell

Just when many commentators thought the euro crisis was over, Italy’s political earthquake has put it back on the agenda. The problem is not so much that it is practically impossible to form a stable government with different majorities in the two houses of parliament. The real issue is that the anti-austerity forces in Italy have won a large majority. [...]

Four-year fixed terms? Bring it on!

Of course political observers love the spectacle and drama of elections campaigns. But all this excitement is not an end in itself. Its real purpose is to constitute both a parliament and a government that do their jobs well. And for this reason, fixed four-year terms would improve New Zealand’s democracy. [...]

Missing benefits of the high dollar

As the New Zealand dollar reached an all-time high against the British pound and keeps rising against the US dollar, the euro and other major currencies, New Zealand manufacturers are renewing their complaints about the damaging effects of our strong currency. However, currency movements usually produce losers and winners. Just as domestic exporters suffer from a rising kiwi dollar, domestic importers benefit from increased international purchasing power. [...]

WoFs, frogs, and broken windows

The purpose of vehicle testing is safety – not creating employment. But as one of my favourite German proverbs goes: “If you want to drain a pond, you shouldn’t ask the frogs for permission.” [...]

The other doping scandal

Artificially creating money does not make a country any more prosperous. If it were different we would have solved the basic economic problem of scarcity long ago. [...]

Final Insights for 2012

As you know, 2012 was an eventful year for The New Zealand Initiative, not in the least because it was our first. Following the merger of our two predecessors, The New Zealand Institute and the Business Roundtable, my team and I have worked hard to build a credible and exciting new think tank in New Zealand. [...]

Not quite Armageddon, but ugly enough

What Australia would need instead are the kinds of structural reforms that have been neglected for years. But unlike an interest rate cut, they cannot be delivered with the stroke of a pen. [...]

TPP welcome, but no panacea

An extended TPP may have a positive effect on FDI – and New Zealand certainly needs to improve its FDI performance. But we should not expect the TPP to be a game-changer. Instead, we need to focus more on welcoming international investors, whether from TPP member countries or not. [...]