At Lytton Advisory we say that providing commercially oriented economic solutions is all about ‘where infrastructure meets money’. In this Q and A, Lytton Advisory Principal Craig Lawrence explains what this means.
Q: So who are economists and what do they do?
A: Economists working with Lytton Advisory are typically postgraduate qualified professionals. We study, develop, and apply theories and concepts from applied microeconomics and write about economic policy. We study the firm and how its commercial operation affects its financial performance, as well as how groups of firms within an industry compete against one another, and how an industry meets the needs of a market.
Q: How does that relate to the development of infrastructure?
A: Because benefits are spread out over a long time and across a wide range of stakeholders. If all the benefits and costs were accrued in one year we could easily see whether the infrastructure was delivering and how risk was defined.
Q: Is it ever that simple?
A: No. Large capital costs of investing in economic infrastructure are recouped through small amounts of use by large numbers of stakeholders over a long period of time. Economic analysis helps identify where the risks are in building and operating infrastructure, ensuring risk is properly attributed to those best able to handle it. Invariably there are also significant social and environmental impacts that need to be considered.
So we help figure out:
- Why specific economic and social infrastructure is required and how users may benefit
- What infrastructure can cost to build, operate and maintain
- How external factors such as exchange rates, interest rates and technology impact on infrastructure project economics
- Whether infrastructure provides a sufficient rate of return to its owners, governing authorities and the wider community, as well as identifying in what form that return occurs – financial, economic, social, or environmental
- Who is best placed to bear the various risks around building and financing infrastructure
Q: When do you get involved in an infrastructure project?
A: We provide front-end advice and clarity before anybody even starts building; we do mid-project evaluation to ensure that the project remains commercially and economically valid; and we do post-project evaluation to ensure that infrastructure continues to deliver the right results.