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

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 2009 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 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 1900-2000 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.


On the New Zealand macroeconomy, Geoff has published analyses of the role of the banks historically and in the 2008-9 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.

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 1986 to curb anti-competitive practices, the 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.

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. Most recently he wrote a 2016 report on the Cook Islands’ graduation from developing to high-income status.

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