Spare us the auction on stolen goods

(Next Magazine, 2016/12/30, A002, Second Opinion, Bill Stacey) As our next Chief Executive “horse race” starts, we should heed the American critic HL Mencken’s warning that “every election is a sort of advanced auction on stolen goods”,  and remain vigilant against unrealistic promises from candidates that reach into our pockets orContinue reading>

Hiking stamp duty at cross purposes

(Next Magazine, 2016/12/1, A002, Second Opinion, Bill Stacey) Hiking stamp duty at cross purposes Governments don’t like it when markets won’t do what they want them to do. They rail against the outcome of the market and seek to intervene to redefine the results of trade. Put that way, interventions inContinue reading>

Government is the problem, not the solution

(Next Magazine, 2016/10/6, A002, Second Opinion, Bill Stacey) Political debate in Hong Kong is almost invariably trapped in the “nirvana fallacy”, which according to economist Harold Demsetz, “implicitly presents the relevant choice as between an ideal norm and an existing imperfect institutional arrangement.” This leads to bad decision-making and bad arguments,Continue reading>

Singapore pays the price for picking favorites

(Next Magazine, 2016/9/1, A002, Second Opinion, Bill Stacey) Singapore pays the price for picking favorites The front page of England’s venerable weekly The Spectator headlined an essay titled “The Doom Delusion”. The author Johan Norberg points out that objective evidence shows that “there’s never been a better time to be alive”,Continue reading>

Assaulting our competitive edge

(Next Magazine, 2016/7/21, A002, Second Opinion, Bill Stacey) Assaulting our competitive edge Pride comes before the fall according the Book of Proverbs. One Hong Kong achievement worth being proud of was our world beating Octopus card. Whilst cities around the world from London and New York to Melbourne were struggling withContinue reading>

Targeting Link

(Next Magazine, 2016/6/23, A002, Second Opinion, Bill Stacey) Targeting Link A powerful US political aspirant does not like reports about him in the Washington Post. He threatens its proprietor’s separately listed company, Amazon Inc., with antitrust action and official scrutiny. Many will think Donald Trump to be out of line, butContinue reading>

The war against work

(Next Magazine, 2016/6/2, A002, Second Opinion, Bill Stacey) The war against work When I first arrived in Hong Kong in 1989, I had the impression of an incredibly dynamic work environment. Unemployment was negligible and workers of all kinds were in demand. Employers constantly complained that they could not keep staffContinue reading>

Not enough capitalism!

(Next Magazine, 2016/5/5, A002, Second Opinion, Bill Stacey) Not enough capitalism! Hong Kong has many contentious public issues, but the underlying source of our discontent is fifteen years of stagnant real wages. For many in Hong Kong we are simply not progressing and the upward mobility from a dynamic economy seemsContinue reading>

Intervention begets inequality

(Next Magazine, 2016/4/7, A002, Second Opinion, Bill Stacey) Intervention begets inequality Our Chief Executive’s Policy Address trumpeted the news that our poverty rate has plummeted to 14.3%, the lowest since 2009, and credited this to his government’s success in closing the inequality gap. This gap is as vivid as our spectacularContinue reading>