Cameron Murray

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A Bitcoin bet

I have yet to hear reasoned arguments about why Bitcoin should be considered a currency. Nor have the perceived advantages over existing currencies and their settlement systems ever really been properly elucidated. Somehow that does not stop people believing that Bitcoin is a currency. In many cases, people argue that it is even better than

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The bank competition myth

Australian banks are upset. Their $30 billion per year gravy train of profits from the Australian people is finally being slowed down. A levy on bank liabilities of 0.06% annually was announced as part of the 2017 Federal government budget, and is expected to raise about $1.5 billion per year, or 5% of bank profits.

15

Game of Mates: Grey gifts

Excerpt from Chapter 4 of Game of Mates: How favours bleed the nation. Get the book via gameofmates.com. Follow Cameron on Facebook and Twitter. Come to the Brisbane book launch on 23rd May, 6pm at Avid Reader, West End (Details and RSVP link) At its core, the underlying power that James co-opted when playing the

11

Game of Mates: The story

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Game of Mates: How favours bleed the nation. Get the book via gameofmates.com. Follow Cameron on Facebook and Twitter. Come to the Brisbane book launch on 23rd May, 6pm at Avid Reader, West End (Details and RSVP link) This is the story of how Australia became one of the most

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New Book: Game of Mates

My book about the grey corruption Game in Australia has been officially released today. It explains how the Game is played, how much it costs, and what to do about it. In this book you get a much deeper and more comprehensive look at how networks of favouritism form, whether legal or illegal, informed by my

16

Missing the point on corruption

On Friday 28th April I am appearing and Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission’s Operation Belcarra as an expert witness on relationships between councillors and property developers, and how that leads to favouritism. A narrow focus What is interesting from my perspective is how narrow the focus of the inquiry really is. Here are the main

15

Economics of empty homes

Prosper Australia has for years been conducting research into how many of Australia’s 9.8 million homes are left vacant. Their major finding is that of the 1.7 million homes in greater Melbourne alone, around 82,000 are vacant, or 4.8%. Their research has been cited by a recent United Nations study on the pernicious effects of

6

Controlling futile rental-price competition

In a recent post I explained how home rents are mostly wasted spending arising from futile price-competition amongst potential tenants. I likened this to Richard Dawkins’ analogy of energy used to create tree trunks being waste from the perspective of the tree, because the only purpose of the trunk is to win the futile competition for sunlight

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Futile rental-price competition

In his famous book, The Greatest Show on Earth, Richard Dawkins’ presents a Forest of Friendship story, which contains within it a powerful idea that has broad implications for how we develop important social, economic, and political institutions. I want to show how this idea provides clues about how to tackle excessively high home rental prices,

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Book review: The Econocracy

I have just read a fantastic economics book. In entertaining detail, it outlines many issues in the economics profession that I feel strongly about [1] Like the authors, I want my discipline to evolve into one that is much better than it is; more practical, humble, and diverse. So why did I finish the book

7

Putting figures on land value’s transport funding potential

Cross-posted from my article at The Conversation Value capture actually can work when it comes to funding new transport infrastructure. My research on the Gold Coast light rail provides the figures to demonstrate the size of the gains to nearby land values, which were around 25% of the A$1.2 billion capital cost in stage one of the project. Value

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Evaluating the ACT land value tax transition

For all the talk of the benefit of land taxation, most Australian economic commentators have so far ignored the experiment happening in our nation’s capital. Since 2012 the ACT has been phasing out stamp duties and phasing in land value taxes. To see what lessons can already be learnt from this experiment, Prosper Australia commissioned

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Australian misery index

Arthur Okun sought to create an economic indicator to show how the average citizen is doing. He intuitively lumped together the unemployment rate and the inflation rate to create a “discomfort factor” –  a metric that made its first public appearance in the Wall Street Journal in 1971. The higher the index, the worse off

28

The great Australian town planning give-away

It is the gift that keeps on giving for the Australian property developer lobby. Planning gains. Betterment. Whatever you call it, it is a multi-billion dollar give-away to the politically connected happening every year. It works like this. Property developers buy land with the accompanying right to use it for a certain purpose, which is typically prescribed

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Missing: Morality and flexibility in economics

I spoke last week at the EDO LawJam about missing elements in the economic analysis of major projects in Queensland, and across Australia. Assessments of the merits of such projects typically require some kind of cost-benefit analysis. This analysis is intended to take into consideration the vast array of externalities and second round effects of major mines,

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Doing the housing supply maths

Laurence Murphy is a top property economist at the University of Auckland. I met him last week after a presentation in Sydney where he took on the myth that planning constraints are a major determinant of current home prices in Australia and New Zealand. He said it is very easy to demonstrate mathematically how little

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Division of labour is the outcome, not cause

I’ve written twice now on the spurious ideas in the division of labour story as an underlying cause of productivity growth in economics. First I questioned whether Adam Smith’s observation of a division of labour in 18th century pin factories made much sense, given that the 18 tasks required to make a pin were undertaken by

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The great land banking scam exposed

Property development can be a dirty business, particularly when it comes to land-banking, which is the speciality of Australia’s largest developers. Land-banking involves the speculative buying of large parcels of land that are currently unsuitable for development in the hope of future development potential. But hope alone is not a business strategy. How can land

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Environment Minister sabotages environmental groups

Minister for the Environment, the Honourable Greg Hunt MP  is to conduct a Parliamentary Inquiry into the Register of Environmental Organisations, which maintains records for eligible organisations and carries with it tax deductibility status, and annual reporting obligations. The Terms of Reference clearly reflect an intention to amend the qualifying rules to ensure environmental groups

24

The economic damage of mateship

I have a new experiment demonstrating the sheer power of back-scratching, even when it imposes huge costs on others.  These days it seems that just about every political decision is about doing favours for the connected few at the expense of the many. It is part of an implicit quid pro quo; trading of favours now for

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Self-censoring on Superannuation

When applying for a job recently I was asked to write a 500 word opinion piece about using superannuation funds for home deposits. I didn’t get the job so there is no reason to waste 500 good words; I’ve published he piece at the bottom of this post. But that’s not what this post is

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Property speculation to boom in 2015

by Cameron Murray and Philip Soos The last two years have been somewhat of a testing ground for making property price forecasts informed by my indicator, which has a new name – the Speculation Index. It is the ratio of housing gross yields to mortgage interest rates, and captures the degree of price growth speculation

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Debunking Economics graphic novel needs help

A group of economic operatives have joined forces to mobilise the economics community through the IDEAeconomics initiative. Influential thinkers including Ann Pettifor, Michael Hudson, Dirk Bezemer, James Galbraith, Steve Keen and others, are promoting  a dynamic monetary view of the economy – hence the full name Institute of Dynamic Economic Analysis – and are advancing practical policies that

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Australia’s addiction to private debt

By Philip Soos and Paul D. Egan A perennial and divisive issue in politics and economics today is the matter of public debt. It is commonly asserted that rising public debt threatens the economy and needs to be reined in. Governments are often portrayed as ‘irrational’ actors when they incur a fiscal deficit, causing unnecessary inflation

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Housing shortage chimera rises

By Philip Soos and Paul D. Egan Over recent weeks, commentators have repeatedly claimed Australia’s high housing prices are due to a supply shortage. Former Treasurer Peter Costello blamed surging housing prices on a shortage, as did Alan Kohler. Treasurer Joe Hockey has a similar perspective, claiming: It is just an infinite mantra for international

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The great housing shortage myth

The claim of an Australian land and housing shortage is a myth of epic proportions, perpetuated by vested interests across the media landscape. An Internet search for the phrase ‘Australian land shortage’ produces a deluge of pronouncements confirming this view. Those with an intimate knowledge of property-related data, or with experience in the development industry,