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Hickey’s prescription for the currency

Written By: - Date published: 12:26 pm, August 3rd, 2011 - 36 comments
Categories: debt / deficit, monetary policy, privatisation, tax - Tags: , ,

The neoliberal myth is that government economic policy doesn’t really matter, it can’t affect the economy – apart from being an anchor on growth. The truth is, government is the biggest actor in our economy. What it does matters. Bernard Hickey has listed 10 ways that the government could act to get the exchange rate down.

1. The government could stop sucking in foreign capital to fund its budget deficits. That means cutting spending on the likes of Working For Families, Interest Free Student Loans and 20 hours of free early childcare. It means raising taxes, either income taxes or by imposing a land tax.

- Governments should run structural surpluses, only going to deficit in recession. At the moment, we have a structural deficit, largely caused by the fact that National has cut so much tax revenue. Redressing that is the place to start. There’s no reason why running surpluses has to come from slapping the poor and middle class. How many billions has the government given away in tax cuts for the wealthy? How much would a capital gains tax raise?

2. The government could run budget surpluses and use that to build some sort of stabilisation fund to reduce the pressure of capital inflows on the currency. That is obviously after it had repaid the government’s foreign debts.

- Labour had us at the cusp of that in 2008 with no net government debt. Their tax package would get us back there, after National’s record borrowing, within a decade.

3. Or the government could use those surpluses to buy back assets sold to foreign interests, which mean those dividend payments stop acting as a drain on the national accounts.

- Good Leftwing policy, that.

4. The government could impose a tax on foreign borrowing by New Zealand companies, not least of which by those state owned enterprises such as Kiwibank, Transpower and the power companies. This, again, sucks in foreign capital and pushes up the currency.

- Brazil has introduced such capital controls. The Greens are planning such a policy, if rumour is to be believed, and Phil Goff hasn’t ruled it out.

5. The government could ban the sales of large assets, in particular land. The Chinese do it.

- Just good bloody sense, and Labour/Green policy

6. The government could encourage the Reserve Bank to use its macro-prudential tool kit to take the pressure off the currency.

- Again, good Leftwing policy, which both Labour and the Greens have promoted

7. These include the Core Funding Ratio, which discourages the use of ‘hot’ foreign money to fund lending in New Zealand. The RBNZ could increase it beyond the current target of 75 per cent by July 2012. It increases term deposit rates here and encourages local saving.

- Definitely something to look at

8. The Reserve Bank could introduce a maximum loan to value ratio for property and land lending. The banks have again begun lending up to 95 per cent in recent months in an attempt to restart lending growth. They are also offering interest only and 30 year loans.

- Ditto

9. The Reserve Bank could force the banks to match their local New Zealand dollar lending with New Zealand dollar funding. This would have to be done over a long period of time, given the scale of the foreign debts held on our behalf by the banks.

- That’s a big one, but is it so crazy to say that we should be able to pay our own way in the world – funding our development with our own savings? Relying on capital from overseas is for colonies, developing countries, and crumbling empires

10. The government could encourage local procurement by its own departments and SOEs to reduce the scale of the current account deficit which is driving our currency higher.

- Hey, that’s Labour/Green policy already too!

Funny, none of those ideas are National policy but half of them are existing Labour/Green policy. So, if you want a lower exchange rate, you know who to vote for.

36 comments on “Hickey’s prescription for the currency”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    All this would work if the delusional monetary economy that it’s based upon wasn’t about to crash and burn due to lack of real resources.

  2. randal 2

    it is counterintuitive but the rich make more money when the economy is going backwards and the currency mavens love uncertainty because then they can ratchet up their commissions. they aint gonna do nothing. thats why they say the government cant do anything because they know governments can if they want to!

  3. Stuart Baker 3

    They might do something if the left were voted in, and made it the law

    • queenstfarmer 3.1

      [oops sorry I meant to put this a top-level comment not a reply, Stuart]

      The truth is, government is the biggest actor in our economy

      Where has anyone denied this? Surely there is no question that it is. The question is whether it’s a good thing (recent US experience providing pretty solid evidence of the failure of the Keynesian experiment).

      • mikesh 3.1.1

        It’s not evidence of anything of the sort. If what the US is doing at present is Keynesian, then there must be more than one way of doing Keynesian economics.

        • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.1

          There is mikesh

          The US Government should immediately and directly hire four to five million workers. Use the New Deal WPA programme as a model.

          It should also announce restructuring of all credit card and mortgage debt. Debt moratoria shall be designed to reduce the level of residential mortgage and credit card debt by 50%.

          Any banks which fail as a result of this action shall be taken over and broken up by the government. Glass Stegall to be reinstated.

          Spending on several major military programmes (and wars) should be halted and money put into growing SME’s and reducing payroll taxes for workers.

      • mik e 3.1.2

        Qf The experiment has failed because the rich who got the US into this mess don’t want to pay for it. Successive Republican parties have done 90% of the damage racking up unnecessary wars and debt to pay for them it was G W Bush who put the first bail out printing in place its not all bad either .The dollar being down has increased, exports decreased imports, Helped the Motor industry which is highly strategic for the super power.they have paid down 85% more debt per capita than us.

        • queenstfarmer 3.1.2.1

          the rich who got the US into this mess don’t want to pay for it

          Perhaps you missed it, but no-one paid for it – it all went onto the national debt. This was the biggest Govt stimulus in history – about a trillion dollars and counting – and it completely failed. The excuse its advocates are putting forward is that it wasn’t big enough (well of course!)

          • Colonial Viper 3.1.2.1.1

            ahem, all that money went to rebuild Wall St balance sheets, the amount which made it to Main St was pathetic in comparison.

            And now, another round of massive private sector layoffs are occurring throughout the US, quick on the heels of multiple rounds of public sector layoffs.

            The US Govt needs to directly employ four to five million Americans, and not leave it up “to the markets”. They do that, the country will experience continuing market failure.

  4. Ed 4

    Re number 9, I don’t know how bank capital requirements are calculated, but it does make sense to require banks to hold extra capital for any lending backed by foreign deposits – there must be additional risks because of exchange rate differences,in some cases, but also an additional global risk of renewal problems if the world changes and investors in New Zea;and suddenly don;t want to roll over deposits – that is essentially what happened in 2008/2009. Extra capital requirements should make loans backed by overseas borrowing more expensive than if they are backed by domestic deposits – that may cover most of the problems, but the idea of levying a tax which is then used to create a stabilisation fund is a good idea – effectively the government is guaranteeing bank deposits without receiving a premium for that guarantee, and the government does not have a fund to draw on when banks get into difficulty

  5. RedLogix 5

    They are also offering interest only and 30 year loans.

    Bastards!!! These should be declared ‘predatory loans’ and made illegal.

  6. djp 6

    >So, if you want a lower exchange rate, you know who to vote for.

    Well considering I get paid in NZD and have savings in NZD I know who *not* to vote for

    Geez the exchange rate probably isnt even that high, the value of USD, pounds and euro happens to be falling

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      You should really think about what kind of advanced economy you want in NZ to develop your career in, and that you want your children to develop their careers in.

      Because that’s what’s being destroyed by the high dollar.

      Instead of thinking “oh my savings are temporarily worth more today” which is sorta stupid, short term and simplistic way of viewing things.

      Geez the exchange rate probably isnt even that high, the value of USD, pounds and euro happens to be falling

      ummmm yeah…currency valuations are all relative…arguing that “THEY ARE WEAK” as opposed to “WE ARE STRONG” makes no difference.

      They are using currency depreciation to win the international trade battle and we are being crushed in the middle. Don’t you get it?

      • djp 6.1.1

        Excuse me what is being destroyed by the high dollar?

        >ummmm yeah…currency valuations are all relative…arguing that “THEY ARE WEAK” as opposed to “WE ARE STRONG” makes no difference.

        There are other currencies also.

        >They are using currency depreciation to win the international trade battle and we are being crushed in the middle. Don’t you get it?

        Explain how?

        • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.1

          Suggest you google “currency devaluation wars” and learn something important.

          • djp 6.1.1.1.1

            I am aware of the recent “currency devaluation wars” and as far as I can see they may benefit one sector of society but at a direct cost to another.

            Historically a strong currency has been something that a country is proud of (is a skilled professional sad that he/she can charge high rates for his or her services?)

            Currency devaluation lowers the purchasing power of all citizens (esp if achieved via monetary inflation), and will hit the proles the most.

            So again, what exactly is being destroyed by the high dollar?

            • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.1.1.1

              Suddenly someone has done some study. Thank grod.

            • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.1.1.2

              Historically a strong currency has been something that a country is proud of (is a skilled professional sad that he/she can charge high rates for his or her services?)

              I take it back.

              The above is a pathetic analogy.

              How about:

              Is a skilled professional sad that he/she loses foreign orders because the high dollar makes their work too expensive for prospective overseas buyers?

              IDIOT

              • djp

                Thank-you for your most constructive feedback.

                It may be a pathetic analogy but the point I am trying to make is that generally people wanting to hold on to our currency is a good thing (kiwis are the only people who must – by fiat – take payment in kiwi dollars so external demand for NZD can be a signal that the rest of the world values the products we produce… us being a small fish however means that other factors can play a big role also)

                You still haven’t explained the reasoning behind your assertion that the economy is being destroyed by the high dollar.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Anybody who is in business trying to bring foreign earnings into NZ by producing goods here and trading them overseas is being smashed right now.

                  Dairy farmers are being doubly smashed at the moment: per tonne USD prices are falling AND when they bring those USD home, it results in less NZD onshore.

                  You’ve got to get up to speed with how currency war dynamics work.

                  The US got tired of waiting for China to revalue their currency upwards, so all they are doing now is nose diving their own currency to become more competitive internationally.

                  • djp

                    >Dairy farmers are being doubly smashed at the moment: per tonne USD prices are falling AND when they bring those USD home, it results in less NZD onshore.

                    If the USD gets devalued then (all other things being equal) the per tonne USD price of dairy will go up.

                    think about it, if they print more USD then the price of any commodity is going to go up (gold, oil etc, what makes dairy so special).

                    >The US got tired of waiting for China to revalue their currency upwards, so all they are doing now is nose diving their own currency to become more competitive internationally.

                    The parts of US economy that compete with Chinese manufacturing might have agitated for such, the parts of the US economy that benefit from a low yuan not so much (assuming they haven’t bought into the currency war BS)

                    • bbfloyd

                      d.j..p…so you actually agree that this issue is costing nz income… read everybody else as well as farmers and you might be getting somewhere.

                      the only thing i don’t understand is that, if you actually agree with the post, why are you carrying on like a such a prat about it?

                    • djp

                      No bbfloyd I dont agree that this issue is costing nz income. Where do you get that idea from?

              • mikesh

                [Is a skilled professional sad that he/she loses foreign orders because the high dollar makes their work too expensive for prospective overseas buyers?]

                If the skilled professional loses work because the dollar’s too high that’s just market economics. The problem is that too much of the money pouring into the country, and keeping the dollar high, has little to do with actual trade.

                • Colonial Viper

                  I think you have to regard things like engineering design work, software development, consulting work as part of the trade equation. NZ professionals export the fruits of their labour in return for hard currency, and that is just as valid a form of trade as sending out a tonne of caseine.

            • George.com 6.1.1.1.1.3

              Historically a strong currency has been something that a country is proud of (is a skilled professional sad that he/she can charge high rates for his or her services?)

              Yes, that was true historically. Back in the early 1970s the NZ dollars was on a par with the US. However, that was true with distinct structural facets in place, just at the end of the post war Long Boom. The Fordist era was at the point of unwinding.

              Since the early 1980s the global neo-liberal period (now also in its final days of credibility) has set in place quite different structural facets. We are in an age of competitive capital and the hegemony of the market. Competitive nation states seek to under cut each other to retain ‘market confidence’ and retain an ‘edge’. All the time capital flows freely and rapidly across national boarders and its demands must be satiated. In this period high exchange rates may hobble the nations competitveness. Moreover, what is good for global capitalism may not be good for national focused or national based capital.

  7. Tom 7

    >So, if you want a lower exchange rate, you know who to vote for.

    Good Lord I want fair value for our dollar, dollar for dollar with the US.
    So National should fly in for a vote this year.

    Hmmmph ! perhaps a no vote for the lot of these monkeys in parliament this year.

    • bbfloyd 7.1

      yet another wrecker shows his colours. let me know how your money tastes once it’s all you got left to eat.. mmmmmmmmm….plaaaastic…

  8. Afewknowthetruth 8

    What DTB said at the start.

    Orhtodox economics is rapidly becoming irrelevant.

  9. John D 9

    I get paid in GBP. If this trend goes on I will be out of business, along with many other NZers.

    • Afewknowthetruth 9.1

      There may be some blips along the way but in the long run the trend must continue because the British economy is collapsing faster than the NZ economy.

      We are witnessing the early stages of a reversal of the Industrial Revolution: the more ‘developed’ a nation is, the further it will fall and the faster it will fall.

      • Colonial Viper 9.1.1

        And those neolibs who have deliberately undermined community spirit and collective action in favour of consumer individuality have fucked us all (some western countries and cities worse than others, mind you).

      • John D 9.1.2

        The UK has one trillion pounds of sovereign debt, and an economic and social policy framework that will ensure its demise

        • Colonial Viper 9.1.2.1

          And this what happens when you make risk free the bullshit bets of the private banking system, and do so using masses of tax payers monies.

          I see they are back to paying the City banksters multi-million quid bonuses, things are going so well.

        • mik e 9.1.2.2

          John Doe the figure looks big but they have less debt per capita than us .so whats going to happen with us then with borrowing Bill English. Taking up the lack of borrowing from the private sector.

  10. Colonial Viper 10

    Bank of Japan enters currency war against US

    The Japanese Ministry of Finance’s JPY-selling operation Thursday may be the first in a series of interventions over the coming weeks to curb further rises in the unit, and may have come Thursday in part as the Swiss National Bank’s move Wednesday to weaken its own currency made it easier for Japan also to step in, says Koji Fukaya, director of fixed income and global foreign exchange research at Credit Suisse.

    http://www.morningstar.co.uk/uk/markets/newsfeeditem.aspx?id=155144956257488

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