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What's wrong with New Zealand's public benefit test?


  • Geoff Bertram


New Zealand courts and regulatory authorities have since 1994 adopted an extreme neoliberal version of the public benefit test, treating wealth transfers from consumers to monopolists as welfare-neutral. This abandonment of the long-established consumer-welfare or balancing-weights standards used in most other OECD jurisdictions rests upon a misconstruction of the alleged inability of economists to reach consensus on how to evaluate changes in income distribution. The intellectual cul-de-sac occupied by “new welfare economics” should leave policymakers free to attack monopoly profits without having to endure utilitarian criticisms from neoliberal economists. In doing so. New Zealand policymakers would be acting in accordance with strong economic arguments for restraining monopoly, drawn from the wider mainstream of the economic literature and requiring no utilitarian underpinning.

Suggested Citation

  • Geoff Bertram, 2004. "What's wrong with New Zealand's public benefit test?," New Zealand Economic Papers, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(2), pages 265-277.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:nzecpp:v:38:y:2004:i:2:p:265-277
    DOI: 10.1080/00779950409544406

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dani Rodrik & Arvind Subramanian & Francesco Trebbi, 2004. "Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions Over Geography and Integration in Economic Development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 131-165, June.
    2. William Easterly, 2002. "The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262550423, January.
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