Ganesh is Research Director of BERL. He joined BERL fulltime in 1998 as a Senior Economist and became Chief Economist in 2010, before moving to the Research Director position in 2019.
Ganesh is a first generation New Zealander, born, bred and educated in Wellington. His interest in economics was originally founded on his fundamental love of numbers, which in turn derives from his passion for cricket. However, his lack of talent (which he puts down to his poor eyesight) cruelly cut short his stellar cricket career that prematurely peaked with a top score of 17 runs and best bowling figures of one for 35 off two overs. And so economics developed as his third love.
Since then, he has accumulated over 35 years of experience in the field of economics ranging from business consulting, research, tutoring, lecturing, media commentary, and conference presentations. These years of experience have taught him that economics is much more than numbers. Additionally, and importantly, it is much much more than dollars and cents.
Economics is about people – their access to opportunities and their ability to participate, and capacity to contribute to their family, their whānau, their hapū, their iwi, their community, their country. Economics is about how we write the rules of the game to ensure that all people, families, whānau, and communities, have opportunities to participate and contribute. And is also about how these rules are enforced.
These rules are sometimes imposed as taxes. For example, should we impose taxes to minimise the harm to others from substance abuse? If so, who pays the tax? And, why should others escape scot free? Or, should we subsidise housing to ensure all have a roof over their heads? If so, who gets the subsidy? What about those that don’t get the subsidy? Why do they have to fend for themselves?
As Research Director, Ganesh drives the research activities of BERL – setting a research program of studies across a range of challenges facing 21st century Aotearoa. The economics of inequality, poverty, and housing are front of mind, with land and water use and responses to climate change also on the agenda. These research activities are funded through BERL’s internal resources, along with partnerships with stakeholders and other agencies.
Outside of economics, (and when the cricket isn’t on) Ganesh can usually be found in training mode somewhere around Wellington’s harbour, as he prepares for his next marathon.