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Have the Nats been at the insanity peppers?

Written By: - Date published: 6:57 am, September 23rd, 2013 - 23 comments
Categories: privatisation - Tags:

Selling Mighty River shares was bad enough: $66m taxpayer dollars spent on selling shares with a dividend yield of 6% (the total shareholder return for the Crown last year was 11%) to avoid borrowing at 4% . That’s spending money to lose money. Not crazy enough, apparently. For the Meridian sale, they’ve doubled down. The cost will be $100m and they’ll be selling shares with a dividend yield of 8%.

Who in their right mind sells a high-return asset to avoid low-cost debt? More than that, who spends $100m to sell a strategic piece of your economy’s infrastructure that’s ALSO a high-return asset to avoid low-cost debt.

There’s stuff that the Right and the Left disagree about honestly and for legitimate reasons. Then, there’s just burning money for the hell of it.

As National’s political situation around asset sales gets more and more dire, they’re throwing any last vestiges of economic logic to the wind. The crazy cost of the sale ($60m of which is the cost of the ‘buy now, pay later’ scheme) and the ultra-low price of the shares (which translates to the very high dividend yield) is all about National scrambling to get ‘mum and dad’ to buy Meridian shares.

Understandably, there’s some reluctance on the part of those who bought Mighty River shares and have lost 13% of the their investment so far to drink National’s kool-aid again, and nobody who watched what happened to those suckers wants to repeat their mistake.

National needs as many people as possible to buy Meridian shares. Each sale was meant to get around quarter of a million buyers. Mighty River didn’t even manage half of that. Bill English only talks about ‘tens of thousands’ of buyers for Meridian. And to get even that, the Nats know they have to make the offer ridiculously sweet. That selling the shares at fire sale prices and, on top of that, wasting millions of taxpayer dollars on gifts to wealthy share buyer on top.

The sane thing to do would be just stopping the sales and putting all that money and effort into actually running the economy. But those insanity peppers make you do some crazy things.


What about the argument that we simply mustn’t borrow the money to fund this capital investments, so selling off high-yielding strategic assets is the only alternative.

Well, look at it this way: The asset sales will raise $5 billion if they’re lucky (minus quarter of a billion costs). That’s just over 2% of GDP. National has borrowed $50 billion in five years.  The Crown’s gross debt stands at $80 billion. The asset sales proceeds are really neither here nor there when it comes to the Crown’s gross debt level. And it doesn’t improve Crown’s net worth at all – in fact, it gets worse.

23 comments on “Have the Nats been at the insanity peppers?”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    Ennui has this right. Gifting these productive, low risk, revenue producing assets to the wealthy at cut price is not “insane”. It is the objective.

    • Ennui 1.1

      Thanks CV, as you mention below its all manipulation by the bank vultures (of whom Key is one) to “legally” deprive the rest of us of our assets. The biggest insult is that they have managed to shift “toxic debt” off their books to the taxpayers / public, then charged interest on it.And they create new “credit” to strip us of our assets.

    • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 1.2

      @ Cv & Ennui

      Just because it may be the objective, doesn’t preclude it from being insane.

      The objective is insane.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.3


      That was always the objective. National really are taking us back to feudalism. It’s the only possible result from the rich buying up of the commons and once that happens we get to do what we’re told or we starve.

  2. Jan 3

    Further, who might be interested in buying these low priced shares?

    “over the past five years, there has been a “quiet transformation of U.S. financial holding companies.” These financial services companies have become global merchants that seek to extract rent from any commercial or financial business activity within their reach.”
    “Giant bank holding companies now own airports, toll roads, and ports; control power plants; and store and hoard vast quantities of commodities of all sorts.”
    Bank of America is listed as a main player.

    Doesn’t Key have shares in Bank of America?

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      Not only that, these capitalist vultures have been picking up foreclosed housing for nothing by the thousands. And then renting them back to people.

      It’s the classic market bubble manipulation to shift asset ownership back to the 1% and make everyone else renters to be extracted endlessly from.


      • aerobubble 3.1.1

        Let’s just recap. No thanks to the left voice on National Radio Politics with Hooten. The right have managed to make socialism synonymous with bad government, and there should be no surprise this has worked, since right leaning tory and socialist parties for the last thirty years have done socialist policies and made sure to rig them to fail. What after all was the GFC but bad socialism, the massive loaning of money to those who could not afford to pay them off. I mean what isn’t the left getting when they say socialize the risks, privatize the profits. Is it because a capitalist government would socialize the profits for its shareholders (the people) and privatize the risks so capitalists could harness their free market juices to minimize the risks to (we the people).

        Look, how much clearer do I need to spell this out. Massive cheap high density fuel flooded the western world, the politic class them harness finance to stop it from all but trickling down, and then in order to keep the ponsi scheme going using the media to manufacture consent and introducing bad socialist policies that were designed to fail but at least offer the feeling that people were actually getting richer, i.e. their home value was rising. The only reason they’ve stayed high in NZ, is the political class has such a one song sheet, that they’ve been able to keep the building sector building mansions only.

        So once again, yet another big brother broadcast from National Radio, Politics with Hooten, where in the same broadcast he says National has few vunerabilities, all to clear with the left jerk letting his nonsense pass by, and that the GFC was down to socialism. Socialism introduced by Tory parties like National to scrape a veneer that the working and middle classes were actually getting rich when they were be burnt from both ends of the accountancy equation, lower wages, high costs and over priced asset bubbles.

        If I were Labour I’d be on to National Radio and asking for the left jerk to be changed to someone who didn’t prescribe to all that was wrong with the global economy for the last thirty years and had so much a part to play in it. Talk about conflicting interest.

        Socializing the risks means using socialist policies FFS. Privatizing the profits means using fiscal policy to hand the profits over to the few. Why anyone can still say that socialism caused the GFC on National radio and not be laughed off the set is just so sad however true.

      • Steve 3.1.2

        Agreed a rentier economy in full flight.

        However, don’t need foreclosure for this to happen. In many countries, including NZ, the banks have become the biggest landlord in recent years. Pushing low deposit mortgages and extracting interest (rent) from their borrowers (tenants) – creating a housing bubble.

        Many so-called “owner occupiers” are effectively renters with their bank being the landlord. Worse still, the borrower is the one taking on the majority of risk, that the house might fall in value, not than the bank.

  3. Lightly 4

    I don’t think all these inducements will really encourage many retail investors.

    The power companies were always marketed as dependable, stable investments. High returns and floating incentives make them look more like high-risk investments. So there’s a narrative break there, which will make ‘mum and dad’ suspicious.

    And, let’s face it, Meridian is high-risk. You’ve got to say that the odds of Tiwai closing are better than even and the odds of NZ Power are about the same. Both will slash Meridian’s profits.

    • aerobubble 4.1

      Won’t TTP allow investors to sue the government for misrepresentation? And why should Minister walk away with the allegedly lavish corporate boxes they’ve won for themselves.

  4. tracey 5

    “Mum and dad” was a red herring. Just like english on radio today saying kiwis want higher wages and national is delivery them. Their words barely correspond to reality but key is popular and the queens grt granson is a bonny wee baby… since when did key say bonny? Did he think he was standing for election in scotland

    • Ennui 5.1

      My Ma and Pa have no cash. Neither do most peoples Ma’s and Pa’s. “Ma and Pa” are a sick figment in a bright vision of the future that Shonster is using as smoke and mirrors so we dont see him committing theft.

  5. tracey 6

    But ma and pa have been told it is wrong to yearn for them and soon they will be affordable to them so they mustnt let their envy stop others from buying some.

  6. Sable 7

    Its not crazy its devious. National are going out of their way to destroy the standard of living of the average New Zealander. Sell of the state assets to wealthy supporters making them a mint and then increase taxes making the majority of the population pay for it on an on going basis.

    Hike utility costs on top of savage taxation to keep people working till the day they are ready to drop providing a ready pool of cheap labour for said same rich arseholes to exploit.

    Its parasitism on a grand scale.

  7. blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 8

    I wish people would stop voting for these fiscal fools.
    Voting for clowns has created a circus instead of a government

    I wish people would become more discerning and stop swallowing the spin.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.1

      National aren’t fools – they know exactly what they’re doing. They’re selling out NZ so that the rich get to be bludgers and everyone else gets to become a serf.

      • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 8.1.1


        They are following the advice of people who do not have any insight.
        All they are doing is biting the hand that feeds them, literally feeds them. They are wantonly destructive, they have no foresight; they do not know what they are doing. They are fools

  8. Rogue Trooper 9

    such a colorful post, that I shared it. 😀

  9. captain hook 10

    sit down with a cuppa and put on the thinking cap and ask this.
    who stands to gain most from the sale of meridian.
    thjen you wil have the answer,
    arguing about the pirce is pissing in the wind.
    who gets the income stream is the most important thing.

  10. tracey 11

    Is mccully contradicting his leader?

    Key says New Zealand is doing OK so far – we’ve got about 100 votes and we need about 127.McCully says vote numbers are not talked about. “There’s a huge amount of work to be done; the Australian experience was the final three or four months were critical.”

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