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Cost of living

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. [...]

Christmas pudding without butter

Milton Friedman once quipped that if you put the government in charge of the Sahara Desert, there would be a shortage of sand within five years. In the very same way, an interventionist and protectionist government can create a staple food shortage even in the most highly developed nation on the planet. [...]

World class economy, first class prices

No doubt the Australian economy has performed well in the past decades. But for Australian consumers to benefit from this development, government needs to step out of the way and stop needlessly inflating prices. [...]

Let the online bargain hunt begin, properly

Thanks to the high dollar, Australians have become the world's most savvy online bargain hunters. Parcels with cheaper DVDs from the US, computer games from Hong Kong and books from Britain arrive on our shores in their thousands every day. [...]

Talk is cheap, everything else is not

It was in a busy shopping street in the city centre of Lübeck where I spotted them. Glowing in bright yellow, the fruits at the market stall looked exactly as I remembered them from Australia. But when I saw the price of 79 Euro cents per kilo (approximately AU$1), I wondered whether they were really bananas. [...]

Ripped off and overcharged? Not necessarily

Consumers have no right to demand a certain price. But they have a right not to buy things when they find them too expensive. And that's a message that even the most extortionate businessman understands. [...]

Planning and the economy: a complex relationship

What sounds like a paradoxical experience may not be so much of a paradox after all. House prices, quality of life and economic growth are very much interlinked in Britain's recent history, and it is not always easy to disentangle the three. However, if we want to understand why they are connected, it is necessary to subject them to an economic analysis, and that means analysing the way Britain's built environment has been planned. [...]

Land supply at heart of home-front problems

For policymakers, the lesson is clear. If they are concerned about housing boom and bust cycles, they have to quash the expectation that house prices will continue to rise. To do that, they need to examine property markets with long records of house price stability, and learn from them how to ensure that when more housing is needed, more can be built. [...]