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Crowdfunding: Finance goes Indie

Yannis Goutzamanis explores the economics behind crowdfunding, a new way for budding entrepreneurs to fund their ideas through the simple click of a button. Slowly overcoming regulatory issues, the low transaction costs mean a gradually increasing reputation and presence of this innovative process.

Saul Eslake, and the duty of economists to improve public policy debate

Saul Eslake and Associate Professor Neville Norman
Saul Eslake and Associate Professor Neville Norman

What do career advice, public policy and Eddie McGuire have in common? The answer is that they were part of the vast array of fascinating topics covered by Saul Eslake, Chief Economist of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, in ESSA’s inaugural Neville Norman Lecture, held on the 16 April at The University of Melbourne.

In his conversation with Associate Professor Norman, Mr Eslake talked about how Economics has helped shape his career, dispensing pearls of wisdom throughout the presentation.

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Enough chairs to go around: Immigration and employment

Most of us would have played the game of musical chairs when we were younger. The game is simple. There is a fixed amount of chairs and there are always more people than chairs. Music plays and the players circle the chairs. When the music stops everybody tries to sit on a chair and those who fail are eliminated from the game. Whilst I have nothing against this game, having derived much entertainment and joy from it as a child, it is problematic when people view the labour market as a game of musical chairs.

The musical chairs analogy came from an Athenian economics professor named Antigone Lyberaki in a recent IQ2 debate on EU immigration. She was arguing against the motion that “Europe should shut the door on immigration” and made the point that most politicians misunderstand the relationship between immigration and employment. Many politicians view the labour market as a game of musical chairs. Lyberaki pointed out that the distinguishing feature is that in musical chairs the number of chairs is fixed whereas the number of jobs in an economy is not fixed.

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What’s in a name?

Economists analyse the oft-quoted remark on the ironic significance of names in the famous soliloquy  “What’s in a name … a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. This is a poetic illustration of the argument that it is not the name of things that matter but rather what they actually are. Whilst it is true that a rose would emit the same volatilised chemical compounds if it were named something else this does not necessarily mean names do not matter.

Take the labour market for instance. Would equally qualified employees with different names receive the same or different treatment when applying for jobs? Furthermore, does this mean there are economic costs and benefits associated with certain names?

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Fat Tax: Will it go Belly Up?

In recent years there have been a number of high profile calls for government intervention in the form of taxes or bans to discourage unhealthy diets. These range from Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed soda ban in New York City to Hungary’s Hamburger tax. The Australian Medical Association has even weighed in on the debate and voiced support for similar measures in Australia.

This issue can raise various emotive and ideological arguments pertaining to government and individual rights. However, this article will analyse the proposition of a ‘fat tax’ from an economic perspective.

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