If you have read any of my posts or watched any of my videos, you will know that most of my content is about economics. Some of my content is theoretical, some of it is applied, and some of it crosses over into other areas and disciplines. There are some areas and topics I have focused more on and explored deeper. In this post, I want to highlight the work that I have focused more effort on and, in many cases, will continue to pursue in the coming years.
Below are the areas and projects that I have been focusing my energy on.
- Cost Benefit Analysis
- Social Impact Evaluation
- Social Economic Utility Analysis
- Triple Threat (Game Theory)
- Transitivity (Game Theory)
- Mixed Equilibrium (Game Theory)
- Cruelty-free Economics
- Intertemporal Choice
- Relative Utility
- Economics Education Reform
- Steem Economic Analysis
- Social solutions
- Blockchain Economy
Most of the above I have shared, to some extent, on Steem in either written posts or videos. I have provided links throughout this post to relevant content you might want to explore. Most of my work can be considered as evergreen and will remain relevant for a long time.
Cost Benefit Analysis
Cost benefit analysis (CBA) is an area I have been involved in for much of my career as an economist. My first job as an economist was in the CBA team of Queensland Transport and Main Roads. I worked in that team for almost nine years. I evaluated dozens of projects and programs. I built many economic models. I trained many colleagues on how to conduct CBAs. I have even presented my research at engineering and economic conferences. You can read about my research on Google Scholar.
I have presented my knowledge of CBA in both written posts and videos. My Cost Benefit Analysis Video was my first Steem post and YouTube video. I felt this was the most appropriate topic to begin sharing my knowledge. This video is still relevant today and should be for a long time to come.
I shared my knowledge further with my post Economic concepts - cost benefit analysis steps involved. This post lays out all the important steps involved in conducting a CBA. I believe this post will be very useful to anyone who wants to learn how to conduct a CBA as well as to anyone who wants to understand how a CBA should be conducted.
I have used YouTube and Steem to share the content from my conference papers. I added voice-overs to the PowerPoint slides that I presented at the conferences. I included more detail than I did at the conferences as the conferences had strict time allocations for presentations. My final conference presentation was How the results of a cost benefit analysis (CBA) are influenced by assumptions. I presented this paper at the Australasian Transport Research Forum (ATRF) after I had left Transport and Main Roads earlier in the year. The paper and presentation probably would not have been particularly well received by my former employer as it was critical of some of the approaches applied by their economists to assumptions used in CBAs.
Even though I have created many economic models throughout my career, I have mostly not presented them beyond my workplace. This is because of ownership of the models and the complexity of the models. However, I developed a model after I left the Queensland Government and I am therefore fully entitled to share it at will. This model is presented in my post Cost benefit analysis sensitivity analysis excel model (project output sensitivity tester (post)).
This is just some of the work I have done in regards to cost benefit analysis. Most of these posts and videos are at least a year old. In 2020, I intend to create a comprehensive CBA Udemy course. I will provide more detail once I commence creating this course.
Social Impact Evaluation
Social Impact Evaluation (SIE) is closely linked to Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA). However, I am mentioning it separately because I created SIE. After I left my job with Transport and Main Roads, I got a job with Building Queensland as the Social Benefits Manager. The Queensland Government had decided to expand project evaluation to more than transport and road projects. However, many projects could not be easily evaluated using CBA because of lack of data, guidance material, and clearly definable benefits. I was hired to fill that gap with social benefits.
Social benefits was not a logical fit because there are both social benefits and costs. Therefore, I rolled benefits and costs under the broader heading of ‘impacts’. There was an existing field of work known as Social Impact Analysis. Therefore, I used the word ‘Evaluation’ instead of ‘Analysis’. The Social Impact Evaluation Guide is still available for download from the Building Queensland website. It has not been updated since Version 2.
Since I have been on Steem I have made two videos about Social Impact Evaluation. Both of these are also available on YouTube. The first video, Social impact evaluation - an integrated-approach to project evaluation, introduces Social Impact Evaluation. The second video, Integrating social impact evaluation with cost benefit analysis, explains how Social Impact Evaluation should be used to support Cost Benefit Analysis. Social Impact Evaluation is useful for projects that have very few monetisable impacts and can be used as a tool to identifying potentially quantifiable impacts.
I conducted several workshops with key project stakeholders to help identify key impacts. These workshops were used to establish relationships between different impacts. The workshops also helped highlight which impacts could be quantified and possibly monetised for inclusion in a CBA.
Social Economic Utility Analysis
Social Economic Utility Analysis was what I wanted to develop initially when I was working with Building Queensland. Unfortunately, it was not possible to do in the timeframes that were provided. However, I came up with a few ideas that I partially worked on. My time at Building Queensland was shorter than I had initially hoped. Therefore, I did not have time to progress my ideas around Social Economic Utility Analysis before I left.
Once I left, I worked on these ideas during my free time between consultancy jobs. I set out my initial ideas in my post, Quality of Life as Quality of Time. My ideas focused on valuing quality of life based on the value provided by the time we consume. This approach was a big step away from traditional economics that focused on maximising monetary wealth or maximising utility based on consumption of goods and services.
At this point, I had formulated the algorithms to make this idea possible. I published the algorithms a week later in my post, Social Economic Utility Analysis (working title) Algorithms. I also had an Excel-based model ready to test. I described and explained this model in my post, Social Economic Utility Analysis (working title) Model.
After publishing those posts, I tested the model with some hypothetical values. I made a few tweaks to ensure that it operated correctly. I was not able to work on the model fulltime but I frequently went back to it. Several months later, I made a video demonstrating how to operate the model. This video is available in my post, Social Economic Utility Analysis Model (Video). I still consider the model and the algorithms a work-in-progress. It will remain a work-in-progress until I am able to test the model with real data and participants. Before this is possible, the model will need far more exposure.
I have not been directly involved with ‘Game Theory’ in my professional career. However, Game Theory has intrigued me and that intrigue has pushed me to pursue it further. I first became intrigued by Game Theory at University in my ‘intermediate economics’ unit. This intrigue enticed me to take two additional units at university. Both these units contained aspects of Game Theory. These courses were ‘Industrial Economics’ and ‘Analysis of Strategic Management’. Since graduating from university, I have attended seminars and lectures on Game Theory topics.
One of my first videos on YouTube, as well as posts on Steem, was about Game Theory. My post, Game Theory - The Basics, contains the YouTube video as well as a description of the topics covered in the video. The video runs for about 25 minutes. This video is a good start if you are interested in understanding some of the basic concepts used in Game Theory.
Below is some of my own work related to Game Theory.
My ‘Triple Threat’ Theory looks at games with multiple players. The initial premise of ‘triple threat’ is that a game starts with two players with different strengths. A third player is then added to the game making it a ‘triple threat’ game; I named it after the wrestling triple threat match. The inclusion of the third player changes the odds of winning the game of the existing players. If the weaker existing player cooperates with the new player, it could be possible that the weaker player could increase his or her odds of winning the game beyond what they were before the addition of the third player.
I first discussed and described my triple threat theory in a YouTube video, which I later posted to Steem. This post is Game Theory - Triple Threat. The video briefly outlines the theory and includes examples, which contains probabilities of winning of each player before and after the arrival of the new entrant.
A few months later, I wrote a post to support the arguments I presented in the video. This post is Game Theory #6 - Triple Threat (Work-in-Progress) Idea. This post explains the different possible scenarios of cooperation and how each player could be effected by that cooperation. The triple threat game involves both cooperation and competition and is reflective of many real situations. Read the post and watch the videos to understand more.
Transitivity is a key assumption in Game Theory. Transitivity can be described as follows. If ‘A’ is greater than ‘B’ and ‘B’ is greater than ‘C’, then ‘A’ must be greater than ‘C’. This is a very logical argument and many may think of it as a truism. However, there are cases where this logic does not hold. In my post, Game Theory #7– Transitivity, I provide several scenarios where transitivity does not hold true. These examples included inconsistencies in product selection, Penney’s Game, and matchups between sports teams.
I expanded on how the transitivity assumption does not hold true for sports teams in my post Building a winning team (Transitivity assumption) – Focus on the NFL. The post focused on favourable matchups between particular teams even though the team that consistently wins may perform worse against all other teams they play against.
In my post Understanding non-transitive relationships for products – Comparing televisions, I expanded on how the transitivity assumption does not always hold true when people choose between various products. This post looked at how people may not consistently favour a particular television. The post explains how good marketing can be used to make a particular television appear more favourable than an alternative television even if it is not the best choice available to the buyer.
I first became interested in ‘Mixed Equilibrium’ when I was pursuing a Master’s degree. I wanted to write a thesis about ‘Mixed Equilibrium’. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a supervisor with adequate knowledge in that area. Instead, I wrote about Education; I will explain more about this choice later in this post.
Since I have been on Steem, I have only made one video about Mixed Equilibrium. My post Game Theory - Mixed Equilibrium contains that video. I have chosen to only post about it once, as the subject matter is very mathematical and would only appeal to a very small audience.
The video challenges the Nash approach to mixed equilibrium. The video describes how the Nash approach presents a static response rather than a dynamic response. Imagine ordering a pizza that is ¼ Hawaiian, ½ Pepperoni, and ¼ Margherita (Static response). This aligns more closely to the Nash approach. The approach I present is a dynamic approach and aligns more closely to 'repeat' games. Therefore, someone would order a Hawaiian Pizza ¼ of the time, a Pepperoni Pizza ½ the time and a Margherita Pizza ¼ of the time.
Becoming vegan was a life changing experience for me. It opened my eyes to many things. It also drove me to breaking away from the workforce and encouraged me to pursue my own dreams and goals. Veganism also makes sense from an economic and social perspective. I Initially called this area of work ‘Vegan Economics’ I explained the ideas behind this in my video What is Vegan Economics?. However, I felt this came with other connotations that would not help the points I was attempting to make. Therefore, I went with the name ‘Cruelty-free Economics’. I explain about the name change in my post, Title change: From ‘Vegan’ Economics to ‘Cruelty-free’ Economics. This post also highlights some of my upcoming work in the area.
One of the first areas I worked on was valuing life. In Cost Benefit Analysis, human life is calculated and included in analyses. The values calculated are very subjective and vary greatly depending on the methods used to calculate life. There are two approaches commonly adopted. They are the human capital approach and the willingness-to-pay approach. I discuss these approaches in my post, Valuing Life (Part 2) - Valuing Human Life. I have never been a huge advocate of placing monetary value on human life but it was necessary for the purpose of analysing projects that have an impact on safety and human life.
I adopted the approach taken to valuing human life and adapted it to attempt to value animal life. I took the values calculated for human life and adjusted them based on expected natural life expectancy and intelligence (Encephalization Quotient). I even calculated a cost based on the suffering of being in captivity. In my video Vegan Cost of a Big Mac (Includes Cruelty and Loss of Life), I explain the theory behind these calculations and I even calculate the price of a Big Mac if these costs are included in the price. I consider this approach to be a work-in-progress. I am not entirely satisfied with using the Encephalization Quotient as a measure of animal intelligence as it appears quite inaccurate for many animals. I am also considering a whole of ecosystem approach but this has not progressed particularly far.
Also as part of my vegan content, I write about cruelty as whole. I have focused on particular areas of pronounced cruelty. In my post The winner of the Melbourne Cup is …, I wrote about the Melbourne Cup (horseracing). I also wrote about horseracing in general in my posts Horse Racing – Supporting Addiction and Cruelty (Part 1) and Horse Racing – Supporting Addiction and Cruelty (Part 2).
Intertemporal Choice and Relative Utility
My Master’s Thesis was on the topic of education. The thesis focused on the decision to pursue higher education. The thesis adopted an intertemporal choice approach to valuing the costs and benefits of pursuing a higher education. The intertemporal model calculated utility from consumption decisions made in different time periods. I describe my application of intertemporal choice in my post Applying Intertemporal Choice. The post also explains how I created the ‘Unused Liquidity’ function to expand the Irving Fisher Model to more periods.
Once I had obtained the results from the intertemporal Choice Model, I needed to be able to compare results. The intertemporal model was designed to analyse groups of people with particular characteristics. However, as the results were calculated in ‘Utils’ a subjective unit, the groups could not be compared directly. To overcome this problem, I used Relative Utility. I compared each group’s preferences as ratios to each other. My post, Relative Utility Approach explains how I used Relative Utility to obtain meaningful results.
Economics Education Reform
I believe economics is a very important subject. I believe everyone needs some knowledge of economics because we all use economics on a daily basis. My post Why is it important to understand economics? elaborates on this further.
I have attempted to bring the most relevant knowledge I have about economics to the world. I began with my YouTube channel with the ‘Economics Basics’ series. I have shared all the videos from this series on Steem. My first video, Economics Basics - Utility and Choice, introduced, what I consider the two most fundamental concepts in economics. The video explains utility and choice using a very basic and primitive example of a one-person economy.
The series progressed by introducing more advanced topics and concepts as it went along. My videos, Economics Basics - Time vs Quantity and Making the Most of Our Time investigated utility from the perspective of time consumed rather than goods or services consumed. The work presented in these videos tie-in with my work regarding Social Economic Utility Analysis, which I explained earlier in the post. The video presents some of the theory in an easier to digest format.
The next step I took in bringing economics to the world was through contests and challenges. I initially began with puzzle contests and memes; these were more for fun. I later moved on to a challenge series and a buying and selling game. The challenge series involved six challenges relating to economics. Winners were determined by voting and my own selection. So far, the challenge series has been a one-off but will return at some point in 2020. The Buying and Selling Game was intended to be a more permanent ongoing game. Unfortunately, the lack of participation and inability to fund prizes from rewards prematurely ended the contest. I also intend to bring this contest back in 2020. It will be easier to fund as I have a lot more Steem Power than before and my content has been receiving higher valued upvotes since Hardfork 21/22. My Buying and Selling Game is explained in my post, Looking for sponsor for ‘Buying and Selling Game’ contest and YouTube versions of results
My most recent attempts to bring economics to more people has been through my Udemy course, Economics is for Everyone. This course follows the theme that economics is all around us; the course highlights that in the earlier lectures. The course continues by introducing relevant theory. In the final section, the course explains how the theory taught explains behaviour and how we can use these theories to make better decisions. The course is examined in more detail in my post, Designing an economics course for everyone.
I have also investigated methods of assessing knowledge and application of economics. In my post Scenario Questions (Economics), I discuss what I call ‘scenario questions’. These questions put a person in a particular scenario where they are required to apply economic concepts to address certain issues or solve particular problems. The questions do not limit which theories can be used to reach an answer. My Udemy course Economics is for Everyone contains two such questions. I believe these types of questions will help people be better prepared to use economics in the real world.
Steem Economic Analysis
I am very fortunate to be one of the first economists to discover and then explore the Steem Ecosystem. I have shared the knowledge I have acquired in several posts. My post, Steem explained by an economist, was my first attempt at explaining the Steem Ecosystem and some of the economics supporting it. The post targeted new users. The post focused on several different groups of potential users ranging from content creators to investors.
For most of my time on Steem, the economics supporting the Steem Ecosystem has been flawed. I wrote a five part series that highlighted the biggest problems with the Steem Ecosystem. I capped the series with my post Is the Steem ecosystem in disequilibrium? (Part 5 – Combination of solutions). It describes the combination of solutions that I believe could better align economic incentives with behaviour. Nine months later, the Economic Improvement Proposal (EIP) was implemented; this has resemblance to some of my suggestions. I intend to analyse the impact of the EIP to gauge its level of success. I think it needs at least six months before any meaningful conclusions should be attempted to be drawn.
At the end of 2019, I published my Udemy course Guide to the Steem Ecosystem. This course is intended to be an ‘everything about Steem’ course. I explain more about this course in the signature of this post and in my post Guide to Steem Ecosystem Course Content.
I have just started a new series of posts on Steem. This series is intended to investigate how we can obtain our desired outcomes. The series will look at what we want (desired outcome) as well as how we can handle what we do not want. I began the series with the post, What do we want?. This post focuses on the outcomes we are looking to achieve. The second post in series, Prevent, Solve or Manage, investigates three broad approaches to problems. These approaches aim to help us move from what we do not want to what we do want. The Prevent, Solve or Manage approach will be used to explore problems in various areas such as:
In 2020, I will be investigating what I call the Blockchain Economy. The Blockchain Economy can be considered as part of the Social Solutions series as it will offer solutions to social problems. However, the range of possible is sufficiently large for me to write a series purely dedicated to the Blockchain and its potential.
I briefly describe my ideas about the Blockchain Economy in my post Two things that could change the world. I did not know much about the ‘Blockchain’ before I joined Steem. Since I joined Steem, I have gradually become more and more excited about it. I feel the possibilities are constantly growing. I envision the Blockchain being able to taken over the roles of Government in regards to allocation of resources as well as many other areas. I will explain more in the coming months.
Those are my biggest projects and contributions to economics. I have shared much of my work on Steem. I feel Steem might be the best place to share content (written in particular) as it is protected by being stored on the blockchain. I hope other economists, professionals and even academics put their content on the blockchain (i.e Steem). I believe there is potential for journals to share blockchain content on their websites and even in online versions of their journals.
I will continue to work on most of the projects I have described in this post and will probably add a few more in the coming years. I am also interested in pulling some of my work together to put into a book. Some of that content has been linked in this post. I believe my work has value and I want to be able to spread it as far as I can.
If you want to read any of my other posts, you can click on the links below. These links will lead you to posts containing my collection of works. These posts will be updated frequently.
Guide to the Steem Ecosystem (Udemy Course)
I have launched my Udemy course ‘Guide to the Steem Ecosystem’. This course takes you on journey through the Steem Ecosystem. The course consists of 6 sections. These sections are as follows:
- Getting Started
- Navigating Steem Frontends
- Becoming a Steem User
- Behind the Scenes
- The Wonders of the Steem Ecosystem
- Additional Content (SteemFest 4, SMTs, Communities, etc.)
The course contains 56 video lectures (about 13.5 hours of viewing), 56 multiple-choice questions (10 to 12 at the end of each section), and 59 downloadable resources (presentation slides and additional material such as white and blue papers). The course is free-of-charge. Click the link above to access the course.
I also have an economics course, titled Economics is for Everyone, which contains about 4 hours of video content.