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Thursday, 11 February


Climate politics ‘more like religion’, says CSIRO boss Renew Economy

CSIRO chief provides echo chamber for climate denialists: "It almost sounds more like religion than science to me."


Tesla dominates large luxury car market in US Renew Economy

New data shows Tesla crushed the competition in the large luxury car market in 2015.


Victorian climate review calls for 1.5°C long-term emissions target Renew Economy

Independent review of Victoria's Climate Change Act recommends a 1.5°C long-term emissions target for the state that hosts Australia's large brown coal generators. It also calls for greater regulatory power for the EPA.


Residential solar passes grid parity in 20 US states, to reach 42 by 2020 Renew Economy

California, Hawaii and Massachusetts lead the nation for the economic competitiveness of solar PV.


Tasmania urged to add more wind and solar amid energy crisis Renew Economy

Tasmania urged to encourage more wind and solar generation as it struggles with depleting hydro levels and lost connection to mainland grid.


Why the Renewable Energy Target won’t be met in 2018 Renew Economy

More than 1,000MW of large-scale renewables projects will likely be committed this year, but we’ll still fall short of the RET in 2018. The problem lies with financier confidence, not a lack of economically viable projects.


Greg Hunt ‘World’s Best Minister’ inspires new level of satire Renew Economy

How did Greg Hunt win an award that Greens deputy leader Scott Ludlam says "sounds like something his mum made up"? As the satire ramps up, confusion emerges about exactly who was responsible.


Coal reality: Global energy transition occurring faster than expected Renew Economy

What does it say that Indian coal imports fell 28.6% year over year in January 2016 and US coal production was down record 32.4%?


Why Top Gear may be the most dangerous TV program on the planet Renew Economy

It’s time to ask a few questions about the BBC’s re-launch of Top Gear in a post-COP21 world.


Transformational or incremental? Victoria’s energy efficiency and productivity challenge Renew Economy

We all know that energy efficiency is the lowest cost, highest benefit, biggest no-brainer when it comes to reducing pollution across our economy. But will government's embrace it?

Wednesday, 10 February


Waist deep in the Big Muddy John Quiggin

The sudden collapse of four for-profit vocational education enterprises including Aspire college is the latest in a string of scandals, failures and license revocations in the sector.

Meanwhile, in the US, the Apollo Education Group, owner of the “University” of Phoenix, has been taken private for $1 billion, a fraction of its peak market value. UoP pioneered the model of providing a bogus education to publicly funded students, ripping off both the students and the public purse. As the US has cleaned up the worst abuses, UoP and others have seen their profits shrink, to the point of bankruptcy in some cases.

The provision of public funds to for-profit operators has been a predictable, and predicted disaster. Of all the disasters perpetrated under the banner of microeconomic reform, education reform has probably been the worst.

In these circumstances, it would make sense for the national government, which has borne much of the cost, to take over the vocational education sector, properly fund the public TAFE system, and close down the for-profit sector, as was recently done in Chile.

The idea of a national takeover is, indeed, on the cards. But far from closing down the for-profit sector, it appears the Turnbull government plans to push the reform agenda even further.

Waist deep in the Big Muddy, and the big fool said, Carry On.


Balance of payments constraints Bill Mitchell – billy blog

The late Canadian economist Harry Johnson, who came at the subject from the Monetarist persuasion, was correct when he wrote in 1969 (reference below) that “The adoption of flexible exchange rates would have the great advantage of freeing governments to use their instruments of domestic policy for the pursuit of domestic objectives, while at the same time removing the pressures to intervene in international trade and payments for balance-of-payments reasons.” How does this square with those who believe that even currency-issuing governments are constrained in their fiscal flexibility by an alleged balance of payments constraint. So-called progressive economists, particularly, are enamoured with the idea that Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is flawed because it doesn’t recognise the fiscal limits imposed by the need to maintain a stable external balance. In this blog, we trace the arguments.

While on Harry Johnson, he made an important point when countering the argument that flexible exchange rates would be “unstable … jumping wildly about from day to day” was that movements will only be (p.19):

… in response to such changes in demand and supply — including changes induced by changes in governmental policies — and normally will move only slowly and fairly predictably. Abnormally rapid and erratic movements will occur only in response to sharp and unexpected changes in circumstances; and such changes in a fixed exchange rate system would produce equally or more uncertainty- creating policy changes in the form of devaluation, deflation, or the imposition of new controls on trade and payments.

It is often forgotten that the fixed exchange rate system was ultimately derailed by speculative capital flows which threatened exhaustion of the foreign exchange and gold reserves of nations...

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