Anthony B. Robinson writes: In response to my recent piece on Australia, Crosscut readers quite correctly pointed out the role of natural resources and their extraction in the strength of the Australian economy. That is a major factor that I didn’t note. Coal mining for the Chinese market is huge. Still, the more conservative bent of banking here (and in Canada) has been a hedge against inflation. And the more robust public sector has balanced excessive recourse to privatization.

Now I’m in my second week in small New Zealand, which affords opportunities for some comparison to its huge neighbor, Australia. In some respects, New Zealand is to Australia as Canada is to the United States. Australia, like the U.S., has the larger population and the dominant economy, tending to overshadow its neighbor culturally as well as economically. More..