Dr Geoff Bertram

Geoff’s broad research areas include climate change policy, environmental economics, income and wealth distribution, and small island economies.

A profile image of Geoff Bertram, IGPS Senior Associate.
Geoff Bertram, IGPS Senior Associate

His current research areas include climate change policy, environmental economics, New Zealand macroeconomics and economic history, income and wealth distribution, regulatory economics (including analysis of excess profits and anti-competitive practices with particular reference to the electricity industry), and the development of small island economies.

Contact details

Email: Geoff.Bertram@vuw.ac.nz
Phone: +64 021 999 758

Climate Change

Geoff began publishing on climate change in the 1990s with work on cap-and-trade, technological change, and modelling the impact of carbon taxes on the New Zealand economy. In 2010 he co-published with Simon Terry The Carbon Challenge, a detailed evaluation of New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme, and in recent published papers has discussed the idea of a “climate club” and the prospects for border adjustments. In a 2013 report for Forest and Bird he explored in theory and practice the boundary between the market and the environment.

Economic history

His recent economic history publications include a chapter titled The New Zealand Economy 1899-2000 in the New Oxford History of New Zealand (2009), a 2011 comparative study of settler economies, and a 2003 review of the economics of Rogernomics, following up a 1993 commentary. Recently he commented on Brian Easton’s book “Not in Narrow Seas”.


On the New Zealand macroeconomy, Geoff has published analyses of the role of the banks historically and in the 2008-2009 financial crisis, and (with David Tripe) on the 2012 introduction of covered bonds. His work on income distribution and the falling labour share includes a summary and New Zealand application (with revision and update) of Thomas Piketty’s work, and a 2022 conference paper on the falling wage share and the rise of the rental claim on the product. He comments regularly on fiscal and monetary policy issues.

Industry regulation

In Geoff's writing on regulation, he has been strongly critical of the weakness of industry regulation in New Zealand and especially the failure of section 36 of the Commerce Act to curb anticompetitive practices, the flawed application of the “total surplus standard” flawed application of the “total surplus standard” to mergers and excess-profit issues, and the failure of light-handed regulation to restrict excess profits in the electricity sector. He published surveys of electricity industry restructuring in 2006, 2009 and 2013, in addition to regular seminar presentations on the sector. In 2020 he set out a detailed critique of the Commerce Act 1986, followed by as 2021 article on regulatory capture and a 2022 conference presentation on regulatory governance.

Examining small island economies

In the literature on small island economies, Geoff and Ray Watters co-authored the classic 1985 study of MIRAB economies. Since then he has published numerous articles in this field including papers on the relationship of political sovereignty to income in 2004, 2015 and 2016, and a 2009 overview of small-island development co-authored with Godfrey Baldacchino. In 2016 he wrote a  report on the Cook Islands’ graduation from developing to high-income status, followed in 2018 by an article on the country’s need for development aid.

Geoff’s website provides further links to an extensive list of his publications, reports, seminar papers and other research over the past five decades.