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Polity: Buy low, sell high. Except National.

Written By: - Date published: 1:06 pm, March 24th, 2014 - 27 comments
Categories: bill english, national, same old national - Tags: , ,

polity_square_for_lynnRob at Polity points out National’s intensely unstrategic view about investments and asset sales. It is almost as if they wanted to waste taxpayers funds eh?

“Buy low, sell high” intones the finance industry. Search out a down period in the market, biding your time. When the prices are low enough, swoop in and buy all you can afford. Wait patiently as a later market upswing carries the value of your new possessions higher and higher. That is the path to financial security.

So if you are, say, a national government full of people steeped in the teachings of market finance, and you come to power during a down period in the market, and all the projections – including yours – point to the market improving, what should you do? Let’s ask New Zealand’s National government:

“Sell, sell, and sell! And for God’s sake don’t buy anything!”

Heckuva job, Billy.

In a down market where all the indications said “buy,” National sold our assets, and refused to invest in the Super Fund. Those decisions have cost New Zealand billions of dollars. The asset sales have fallen more than $2 billion shy of target, and cost another hundreds of millions to sell. And the Super Fund has been making returns of 21%, far exceeding the Crown’s cost of borrowing.

And, to add insult to injury, National will only start investing in the Super Fund again once the budget is in surplus, which will only happen when the global economy is in full effect, at which point the equities will be expensive again.

National’s economic plan: Sell low, buy high.

27 comments on “Polity: Buy low, sell high. Except National.”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    National’s economic plan: Sell low, buy high.

    Well, that way their rich mates can buy low and sell high and thus make a huge profit – at NZs expense.

    • Ergo Robertina 1.1

      +1 This is what Labour needs to repeat over and over. Where did Clayton Cosgrove go? He was at least good at this attack line.

    • srylands 1.2

      So how have shareholders in MRP made a “huge profit” given they paid the Government $2.50 for stock that is now trading at 25% below that?

  2. Tracey 2

    the apologists will now begin their mantra…

  3. The Real Matthew 3


    The government sells MRP at $2.50 a pop. It currently retails as around $2.00 – $2.10 and we are expected to believe the government has sold us low?

    • mickysavage 3.1

      With a projected return of up to 25% in the first year, yes.

      • The Real Matthew 3.1.1

        Can you expand on the projected 25% return?

        Given the capital value of the shares has decreased circa 15-20% on listing and Dividends have been comparatively small, the investor has taken the losses and the government is running all the way to the bank!

        • Tamati

          It will probably end up being around -12 to -15% total shareholder return in year one. Energy is now a risky business, consumption is drying up and nobody knows why.

    • lprent 3.2

      The value of the governments dividend from MRP over a relatively short period would have exceeded the nett sale value it got for its shares. It isn’t like the government put that money into a higher yielding use.

  4. srylands 4

    Yes the NZ Superfund has returned 21% in the last year. Which exceeds everyone’s cost of borrowing, not just the Crown’s.

    The NZX has returned well over prime lending rates for the last couple of years.

    So how many readers here borrowed to their maximum ability to invest in the NZX in the last 12 months? For those with equity in their homes, it would have been rational to borrow money and invest in shares. You would have made a killing. Oh you didn’t? Why not? Oh because, ex ante, it was risky compared to paying down your mortgage. Yes you are spot on.

    So there you have your answer about why the Government didn’t buy stocks with borrowed money faced with accelerating Crown debt to maintain basic services when revenue collapsed in 2008. It would have been fiscally irresponsible. Pointing ex post to high NZ Super returns changes nothing about that decision.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      It wasn’t that risky for the super-fund – everyone knew that and everyone predicted that it would do really well. Hell, if we hadn’t have had a government so enthusiastically giving our money away to their rich mates we probably wouldn’t have even had to borrow to fund it.

      • Tracey 4.1.1

        John key and his ilk know that when investing in stock you buy regularly both when high and low to even out your exposure. Key broke this rule by stopping new investment by the fund at rock bottom and bill broke the rule about not giving tax cuts only to top bracket at recession time. Govt now in debt over 65 billion and climbing.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 4.2

      “…maintain basic services when revenue collapsed…”

      1. They didn’t maintain basic services, witness problems in education, health, human rights, etc. etc.

      2. Was it “fiscally responsible” to slash the top tax rate, and what did it mean for that revenue collapse you so casually mention as though it was completely outside of their control?

      3. Meanwhile the evidence that you pay such self-deluding lip-service to shows that had New Zealand followed published and advocated for NZLP policies (maintain Cullen fund contributions, maintain public services, not slash revenue with tax cuts, not sell high yield assets) during the period, we’d be better off, no matter your whinging about hindsight.

    • Tracey 4.3

      What percentage of sales revenue has so far gone to schools and hospitals?

      • Tamati 4.3.1

        It’s called dollar cost averaging. It’s the logical way to invest for long terms gains. Trying to “Buy low, sell high” is meaningless speculation and not really an investment strategy.

  5. tricledrown 5

    5pylands govts are different than home budgets.
    This homespun economics is just pure BS.

  6. tricledrown 6

    If we had carried on investing in the Cullen fund it would nearly have doubled in 5 years eventually if we carried on and even increased yourself investment by 2023 to25 aprox we would have Enough return from a much larger Cullen fund to reduce our income tax to Zero.
    Something that would freakout the likes of Bob Jones and Srylands .
    Jones was Bullshitting NZ earliet this year saying the govt shouldn’t own things.
    What if the returns reduced the amount of tax he and spylands pay oh No that’s not right
    Paying less taxes because of good returns from govt investments.

  7. Tamati 7

    Rob, you won’t find a single finance textbook advocating a “Buy low, sell high” strategy. As any sensible fund manager would tell you, continually investing throughout the highs and lows is shown to deliver constant returns.

    Note: When I talk about ‘sensible fund managers’ I’m not talking about speculators and hedge fund managers. Those Cowboys all think they can beat the market, but on average consistently do slightly worse. Thankfully the NZ Superfund managers don’t fall into this category.

    • lprent 7.1

      …you won’t find a single finance textbook advocating a “Buy low, sell high” strategy.

      You also won’t find anyone advocating “sell low, buy high” as a strategy as well. That in effect is what the dimwits in this government are doing in practice.

      As any sensible fund manager would tell you, continually investing throughout the highs and lows is shown to deliver constant returns.

      Not quite. At the very least, most of them will advocate shifting money into deposit accounts when share price returns drop below risk free rates. If they don’t then they’d have a pretty high probability of either losing their customers and/or being tossed into jail.

      At any point, a “sensible” fund manager would be moving to whatever the optimal investments are at the time looking forward into the future. That could be (directly or indirectly) shares, property, bonds, or simple deposits. It doesn’t mean that they’d keep investing in the same mixture at all times.

      • Tamati 7.1.1

        I agree on your first point. But don’t see how this could apply to the government. They sold shares in S.O.E’s at a low price, but haven’t bought any over prices assets to replace them yet. If they then re-nationalised all three companies at a much higher price, then I guess that would be “Sell low, Buy High”.

        I don’t really follow your second point. Actively shifting funds from equities to term deposits every time a stock returns less than the risk free rate would be extremely expensive and pretty pointless.

  8. dave 8

    I think Shonkey and mates will find some way to loot the cullen fund its just to big a target that large pool of capital they’d love to get there hands on it . national never supported any sovereign wealth fund
    of any kind except there own .

  9. Macro 9

    It is almost as if they wanted to waste taxpayers funds eh?

    But of course they do – why else would the spend Billions on uneconomic RONS?

  10. Saarbo 10

    All of this just shows how incompetent National is at running the economy. Things are turning around nicely in the last week or two for Labour, even Garner published an attack on national re their attitude towards house prices…for the sake of new Zealand, these incompetents need to be voted out in September.

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