At The Margin
#45: Are Electricity Markets Fit For Purpose?
Season 4, Ep. 5
Energy prices are on everyone's mind lately since the Ukranian conflict began. Electricity markets have come under fire at a European level with Ursula von der Leyen saying they are no longer fit for purpose. Presumably this comment is in reference to the fact that wholesale electricity markets operate by setting the price at the cost of the most expensive unit to generate at a given moment. This guides good decision making, but has the side effect of creating windfall profits in extraordinary times such as this. So the key question is - is there a way to reduce these windfall profits for firms, transfer those returns or economic rents to consumers, be it through a transfer or changes in prices? There are many options but all may interfere with the efficient operation of the market and create unintended consequences. One key point about electricity markets is that they are complicated and a good market brings on the right generation at the right time. This is really important for short-term efficiency but also in the long run. One example of a potential unintended consequence is in relation to decarbonisation - we need the right portfolio of wind and renewables, but also storage and flexible generation to operate when wind is idle. A good market will find the best mix for us, adjustments to the market must minimise the likelihood of interfering with this. So that's the problem facing European decision-makers right now. In this episode I am joined by Bram Claeys, Senior Advisor with the The Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), which is an independent, global NGO advancing energy policy innovation. This group have reviewed the potential options to solve this energy market conundrum, and have put forward some proposals of their own which we will discuss.
#44: Energy Poverty - Michelle Barrett & Dr. Barra Roantree (ESRI)
Season 4, Ep. 3
In this episode we discuss energy poverty and deprivation in Ireland with Barra Roantree and Michelle Barrett (ESRI). This is the first time I've had the opportunity to discuss research that I've been involved in (available here: https://www.esri.ie/publications/energy-poverty-and-deprivation-in-ireland)We discuss the trends of energy poverty and deprivation from 1994-2016. Some households tend to respond to burdensome energy expenditures by cutting back while others are more likely to incur the additional cost while potentially cutting back on other expenditures. We discuss the groups that are more associated with either of these behaviours. The second part of the report covers the recent energy price changes. We discuss the impacts across the income spectrum, and highlight the socioeconomic groups most affected. Finally, we discuss ways in which the government could respond to shield those who are most vulnerable, discussing the equity (and efficiency) implications of proposed measures. I hope you enjoy!
#43: Health Economics & Healthcare Systems - Prof. Ciaran O'Neill (QUB)
Season 4, Ep. 2
This episode is all about health economics, a topic which has been on my to-do list since I started the podcast. We give an introduction to health economics and discuss the type of healthcare problems economists can help with. We go through healthcare on the island of Ireland and compare the systems in place north and south and finally we discuss the future of healthcare on the island.On this episode we are talking to Professor Ciaran O Neill of Queen's University, Belfast. Ciaran is a professor at the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen's. Many of you may know Ciaran as co-organiser of the Ireland Masterclass in Health Economics. If you like this or other episodes, please share on social media or tell friends, family or colleagues. @AtTheMargin on Twitter
#42: Ukraine crisis & energy/environmental policy - Oxford panel discussion
Season 4, Ep. 1
Today's episode features a roundtable discussion on the Ukranian conflict and what this means for energy and environmental policy in Europe. This roundtable discussion took place at a recent economics of sustainability workshop at the University of Oxford. We discussed a number of topics, including the short term policy response, the implications for the transition to renewables and agricultural policy.Among others, participants were drawn from: the University of Oxford, Technical University of Berlin, the University of Graz, Utrecht university, the University of Barcelona, and the London School of Economics. My thanks to all the workshop participants who offered their voices to the podcast. We covered a wide breadth of topics, some of which I may return to in future episodes to tackle in greater depth. Please do share with friends or on social media. All the best!
#41: Women in Economics - ISWE Panel
I am joined by members of the Irish Society for Women in Economics (ISWE) executive committee to discuss the topic of women in economics. Bróna ní Chobhthaigh, Oana Peia, Karen Arulsamy and Darragh Flannery join to form the panel. Among the topics covered, we discuss some of the barriers faced by women at various stages of the career and lifecycle and how these interact. Please check out the ISWE website where they will list many resources as the society develops. They also have accounts on the usual social media outlets: Email email@example.comTwitter @isweconomicsInstagram ISWEconomicsLinkedIn www.linkedin.com/groups/13988991/I hope you enjoy this discussion!
#40: Cryptocurrency II: Bubble? Fraud? Dr. William Quinn (QUB)
Season 3, Ep. 6
This is our second episode on cryptocurrencies. I am joined by Dr. William Quinn, lecturer in finance at Queen's University Belfast. Will, along with his colleague Prof. John Turner, are experts when it comes to financial bubbles. Having observed crypto price dynamics that mimic a bubble, I invited Will along to give his views on whether cryptocurrency is indeed a financial bubble. When preparing for the chat, Will shared his recent lecture materials with me on how cryptocurrencies display many traits of financial fraud. We discuss the various types of fraud and how crypto dynamics fit these narratives. We also discuss the NFTs and tether - which is a stable coin and some of the dynamics that they introduce seem to go against many of the ideologies underpinning crypto currencies. Will holds the coveted position of being the first repeat guest on the podcast and also the guest to feature on our 40th episode! Thanks everyone for the support so far. If you've enjoyed the podcast, please give us a 5* review on apple podcasts to help bring in new listeners. If you want to learn more about bubbles, check out Will's book (co-authored with Prof. John Turner) on a history of financial bubbleshttps://www.cambridge.org/ie/academic/subjects/history/economic-history/boom-and-bust-global-history-financial-bubbles?format=HB
#39: What is cryptocurrency? Prof. Brian Lucey (TCD)
Season 3, Ep. 5
Today I am joined by Prof. Brian Lucey of Trinity College Dublin who has carried out a lot of research in recent years on cryptocurrencies. We go through the basics behind crypto/blockchain and the dynamics in the market. Brian offers some words of caution for any central bankers that might have one eye on digital currencies! We move on to other areas of financial markets including the recent GameStop/wallstreetbets short squeeze. Prof. Lucey has done some interesting work analysing the sentiment expressed on reddit threads to see if this really was a case of all the little guys standing up to the man or whether it was a lot of scared little guys following a few heavy hitters. We also discuss NFTs or non-fungible tokens. These have recently entered the public consciousness and Brian takes us through what they are and where they may get their value. This is part one of a two-parter on crypto. Here we cover a lot of ground and go through the economic fundamentals, with a second part lined up to discuss more recent developments. If you like the podcast, tell your friends and share on social media! Every 5* review on Apple podcasts pushes us up the rankings and attracts the attention of someone new - so please help me to get the word out to new listeners!
#38: Online dating & matching markets - Dr. Josue Ortega (QUB)
Season 3, Ep. 4
Today we are chatting to Dr. Josue Ortega of Queen’s University Belfast. Josue is an expert in matching markets. These are essentially markets without money. Normally we use prices to allocate goods to those who value them the most - How do figure this out when we don’t have money? And what if both sides of the transaction have preferences, like matching employees to jobs or single persons to a romantic partner? This last point is something which Josue has done a lot of work on. In particular, he has explored the impact that online dating has had on the matching process – what factors result in matching ‘success’ and how online dating has changed the pattern of matching, particularly with respect to the diversity of romantic couples. A very interesting topic and hopefully we don’t take the romance out of dating by discussing it here!
#37: The Economics of Vaccines - Dr. Flavio Toxvaerd (Cambridge)
Season 2, Ep. 3
On today’s episode of at the margin I am joined by Dr. Flavio Toxvaerd to discuss the economics of vaccines. Flavio is a lecturer in economics at the University of Cambridge and has published widely on the economics of vaccines, immunisation and social distancing. Check out his extensive research on the topic here: https://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/people/faculty/fmot2There’s something here for everybody really. There is insight for policymakers on how to approach social distancing and vaccine rollout; something for the nerdy economists like myself who want to think about applications for academic economic concepts; and also something for the current affairs junkie interested in better understanding issues such as vaccine nationalism and how to manage vaccine IP. Thanks very much to Flavio and thanks very much to all the patrons for keeping the show on the road. Check out http://www.patreon.com/atthemargin if you would like to become a patron!