Category Archives: ECONOMICS

Peter Skilling: Jacindamania 2017, hope & fear on the campaign trail

In late-July 2017, two months prior to New Zealand’s general election, its Labour Party recorded an historically awful poll result: its 23% popularity was roughly half that of its National Party rival.

By August 1, Jacinda Ardern had replaced Andrew Little as Party leader. Her campaign – based around a promise to address major challenges in the areas of housing, child poverty, water quality and climate change – had a dramatic impact on the Party’s fortunes, and Labour’s final election result was 37%. (Note, though, that support for the centre-left Labour-Green bloc increased by a more modest amount: from 38% in late July to 43%. And National’s election result (44%) was an improvement on its late-July number.)

With the support of New Zealand First, Ardern is now Prime Minister: an outcome that seemed highly unlikely at the end of July.

Continue reading Peter Skilling: Jacindamania 2017, hope & fear on the campaign trail

Peter Skilling on inequality & market ‘realism’: Why do we want what we’ve got?

Public opinion surveys in New Zealand and elsewhere show that most people are concerned about existing levels of economic inequality. The same surveys, however, show a much lower level of support for policies and parties that promise to reduce inequality (especially where there is any mention of increased taxation as part of a response). These findings were confirmed in focus groups that I convened to explore public attitudes towards inequality and redistribution.

Participants in these focus groups – when asked individually – expressed an overwhelming preference for a more equal distribution of income. These same people, however – when engaged in discussion – were easily convinced that the ‘reality of the market’ made their preference for greater equality impossible.

Continue reading Peter Skilling on inequality & market ‘realism’: Why do we want what we’ve got?