About Anthony Byett

Anthony is a Senior Economist with over 30 years’ experience in applying and communicating economic theories and research. He has a strong background in the field of financial and economic analysis and financial risk management.

Small business is personal

It started out as a simple question: is a $75,000 liquidator’s fee for the $117,000 sale of a small shop appropriate? Thus I enter the disreputable world of business deaths and promises not met. One online search leads to another and I start to question whether my combing of court liquidation records is proving informative or simply entertaining (a type of schadenfreude). Continue reading

Financial imbalances and financial fragility seminar (Mar-11)

Dr Frédéric Boissay of the European Central Bank will discuss the implications of financial integration and global imbalances in terms of output, welfare, wealth distribution, and policy interventions at the University of Auckland this afternoon. His modeling points to, on the one hand, financial integration permits a more efficient allocation of savings worldwide in normal times. On the other hand, however, it also implies a current account deficit for the developed country. The current account deficit makes financial crises more likely when it exceeds the liquidity absorption capacity of the developed country.

See Calendar of Events for other economic presentations in NZ.

Initial Christchurch earthquake impact on spending

Nationwide spending through the Paymark electronic payments network dropped 6% from year-ago levels on Tuesday 22 February, the day of the second major Christchurch earthquake, mostly due to a 33% spending drop in the Canterbury region. Subsequent to this there has been only partial recovery in Canterbury and some shift in spending to South Canterbury, but spending beyond these two regions has resumed at the faster-than-of-late 6% p.a. witnessed earlier in February.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

We all like success. But do we really understand why some succeed and others do not? Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell is a superb book offering some insights. Just as importantly, it is readable. Gladwell is a story-teller. He has purposely pitched the book at the ‘popular audience’. He is doing something right judging by the book topping overseas best-seller lists recently.

Not surprisingly success is a combination of ability, effort and timing. It is the last two factors on which Gladwell focuses, suggesting for example that 10,000 hours of ‘practice’ was a huge part of the success of Bill Gates and the Beatles, as well as fortunate timing. Another interesting statistic is the prevalence of March quarter birthdays amongst top Canadian ice hockey players, suggestive that a 1 January cut-off for children’s sports teams has biased the chances of sporting success later in life.

The New Zealand Listener recently ran an extensive review of these themes, including a check on the birthdates of the All Blacks. And, yes, the same bias appears to be present.

Gladwell also explores the role of communication. Communication matters, especially in the cockpit of a commercial plane. You will be pleased to know that New Zealand pilots score well in terms of a “power distance index”. In plain terms, we are willing to speak up, even if the message will upset our supposed superiors. But don’t get too complacent: we don’t score so well when it comes to numbers – for a very logical reason, it turns out.

The stories and insights just keep on flowing, building a fascinating picture of success as a legacy. The popular myth is that of overnight success but more likely success builds gradually. So you are right, in part: it was your parents’ fault all along. But think again. Buried in your past are the seeds of your own success, be it a work ethic or an attitude or a stubbornness or merely some chance acquaintance.

The major criticism of the book appears to be ‘so what?’ The stories are entertaining but the key message is hardly new. That may be the case. But that does not disempower the book. To me, reconsidering what determines my likely success, and considering under what conditions I might succeed, is well worth the time.

You will probably enjoy this book if you liked: Black Swan, another recent top-seller jammed with wonderful stories by Nassim Taleb.

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The intention of this blog is to highlight economists’ work and provide material to support education and general understanding, especially as it relates to economics in New Zealand. It is not a forum for advocacy (other than better use of economics). Posts are categorised as Events, Insights or NZAE News (includes subcategories). Posts are also tagged with the JEL Classification and/or as considered appropriate (see list below). Authors are generally Councillors of the NZAE. Anyone can provide comments. Any views expressed are not necessarily those of the NZAE.