Cameron Murray

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The curse of landbanking

By Cameron Murray published as Time is money: How landbanking constrains housing supply. Abstract Many housing policies aim to increase supply and reduce prices through rezoning, relying on the assumption that increasing allowable densities automatically accelerates the rate of housing supply. However, the existence of landbanking (land hoarding), where land able to be profitably developed

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Superannuation: a “resource wasting” tax avoidance scheme for the rich

Discussions about Australia’s retirement income system typically begin by reciting the political slogan that there are “three pillars” to the system — the age pension, compulsory super, and voluntary savings. It was the way the Abbott and Turnbull government’s tax inquiry looked at retirement incomes, and a frame of reference used by this government’s retirement

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Why Australia should scrap superannuation

Scrap Superannuation It fails to meet the standards of a retirement income system. It is costly and inefficient, as well as incredibly unfair. The age pension system is by far the most economically efficient retirement income system. Scrap superannuation. Expand the age pension. Boost the economy. Download the report as a PDF here. Executive Summary

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A housing jubilee and lottery to solve affordability?

People fuss over housing being expensive without ever really thinking about what their ideal world would be. My ideal world is one where everyone has the benefits of outright homeownership—few ongoing housing costs with tenure security. One way to get those desirable social outcomes is for everyone to own their own home outright. This can

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Time to unwind the superannuation system

It is about time someone was honest about Australia’s superannuation system. This multi-trillion dollar financial monstrosity funnels money upwards to the wealthy via tax gifts while failing on its promise to reduce the ‘burden’ of the age pension. Let’s unwind the system. The easiest way to unwind superannuation is to allow funds to be accessed by any

4

Delay or Develop? What determines the rate of new housing supply

Recent reports by Grattan Institute and the Reserve Bank of Australia have argued that zoning is a significant cause of Australia’s high home prices. Yet neither organisation has applied the appropriate economic theory to the property market, leading to conclusions that are almost the complete opposite of reality. The main issue in property is that the static equilibrium assumptions

29

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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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