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Measuring global poverty

Emily Vuong explores the use of the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) as the latest measure of extreme economic inequality. Can it finally replace GDP per capita?

The secret to East Asian modernisation

Both market-based and centrally planned economies went down the inevitable path of industrialisation during the 20th century. Emily Vuong reflects on the unique experiences of Japan and China.

The failures of neoliberalism

This article was featured in the 2013 edition of Equilibrium, our annual print publication.

‘The salient failure of the current financial crisis is that it was not caused by some external shock … the crisis was generated by the system itself.’—George Soros

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Opening the front door wider

The Comprehensive Plan of Action for Indochinese Refugees (CPA) has been praised for upholding ‘international solidarity’ and responding to what was the burgeoning refugee crisis of 1989.[1] It has also been criticised for its execution, with critics arguing that it is an example of international buck-passing and questionable compromises. Regardless, the CPA has since affirmed itself as a practical model that allowed policy makers to combine humanitarian principles of compassion with political pragmatism.

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Terrorism, fear and the impacts on economic rationality

The recent terrorist attacks in Kenya and Pakistan have reinvigorated the worldwide fear of extremist violence. The far-reaching effects of these tragic events have substantial impacts on the way people choose to live their lives. Terrorism induces fear. This natural human reaction causes subjective beliefs and reality to diverge. Exploring the consequences of terrorism is a challenge for economists, especially with regard to the effects on rationality, consumption and economic behaviour.

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The Coalition’s first week signals a promising economic future

After what many consider to be a drawn-out, tumultuous and exhausting election campaign, the Coalition has emerged victorious. Just over a week has passed with Tony Abbott as Australia’s Prime Minister-elect. So, what progress has the Coalition already made on delivering its promise of a stronger economy?

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The economics of happiness

The number of Americans who said, ‘yes, I am happy with my life’ peaked in 1956, but ever since then has fallen slowly but steadily. During this time our levels of world GDP per capita have increased dramatically, and according to the non-satiation principle of conventional microeconomics, our experience of higher utility means that should all be happier – yes?

We live in a finite world of perpetual economic growth. Levels of material wellbeing have never been so high. The walls between trading nations have been removed thanks to globalisation and technology. Why then does the economically paradoxical notion of ‘happy peasants and frustrated millionaires’ exist? Happiness economics takes a new approach to assessing welfare based on expansive notions of utility. Conventional economics has the aim of the efficient allocation of scarce resources to satisfy infinite needs. If increasing utility does not fundamentally achieve individual happiness, then what is the point of it all?

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Inspiration vs. perspiration: what was the key to East Asia’s economic success?

Paul Krugman wrote a famous paper in the 1990s outlining the myths surrounding the Asian miracle of the 20th century. Rather than it being a ‘miracle’, he presented a less dazzling critique of Asia’s economic success. He proposed that it was a combination of stringent government policy and the further adoption of free trade that was key to sustaining economic growth in East Asia. Most of this growth occurred in eight economies, collectively referred to as the High Performing Asian Economies (HPAEs) – Japan, Hong Kong, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and the newly industrializing Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand [1]. The relationship between public policy and economic growth is now more important than ever, and in light of the continuing economic crisis in Europe, there are a number of lessons to be learnt from the success of the HPAEs.

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The ugly (economic) truth about our food industry

When we walk into a major supermarket, some of us expect to fill our trolleys with nutritious food for the week ahead, but nowadays what we’re presented with is a plethora of products. Disregarding perhaps the periphery of the supermarket where the organic fruits and vegetables are, we’re presented with shelves upon shelves of pre-packaged products that no longer resemble food at all. There are aluminium cans of soft drink, fruit juice boxes that have undergone aseptic processing, foil chip packets filled with oxygen, and in the meat aisle we have identical cuts of bacon in vacuum-sealed plastic. Everything has been processed, packaged and with the help of marketing, made to look enticing and palatable. Sadly, a tomato is no longer a tomato – the marriage of economics, science and technology carries it from seed to plate in the most economically efficient manner. Many ‘food products’ today are mass-produced by large multinational corporations who prioritise efficiency, profits and turnover over the health of arguably their most important asset, their consumers.

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