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Reserve Bank admits problem, sits on hands

Written By: - Date published: 1:27 pm, January 31st, 2013 - 14 comments
Categories: Economy, exports, monetary policy - Tags:

Today’s announcement from the Reserve Bank states that inflation is still below its target band of 1-3%. It says:

“Inflation remains subdued and is currently just below the bottom of the Reserve Bank’s inflation target range. This mainly reflects the impact of the overvalued New Zealand dollar. The high currency is directly supressing inflation on traded goods, and is undermining profitability in export and import competing industries. At the same time, the labour market remains weak and fiscal consolidation is dampening growth.

The high and overvalued dollar keeps import prices down so consumers benefit, but kills exporters who must provide for our economy’s future.  That is the main point being made to the Manufacturing Inquiry set up by Labour, Greens and New Zealand First after the Government blocked a select committee enquiry into the sector. The Reserve Bank’s obsession with the very different problems of the 1980’s means that as a country we are eating our seed corn.

The other people who benefit are currency speculators and money market dealers, which explains why so much media comment comes from that sector. The unchanged 2.5% interest rate may be a record low for New Zealand, but it is still well above the 0.0-0.5% in the major financial markets. While the New Zealand dollar stays  high, it is a guaranteed one-way bet for the speculators. The Reserve Bank’s announcement pushed the dollar up half a cent against the US dollar.

But the Reserve Bank doesn’t want to debate the issue with anyone who considers it should run a more balanced monetary policy, as other countries do. We are told the  Governor will address the Canterbury Employers and Chamber of Commerce on growth, followed later by Business NZ. These organisations are the result of merging the old Employers Association and the former Chambers of Commerce, and now mainly represent now domestic business. Expect the same old same old “nothing we can do.”

For a real debate the Reserve Bank Governor should front up to the Manufacturers and Employers Association, who represent mainly exporting manufacturers.

14 comments on “Reserve Bank admits problem, sits on hands”

  1. Lightly 1

    good post but Yyou keep on leaving Mana out of the list on the manufacturing inquiry. And you keep writing Labour first like it was their idea, when it was Russel Norman’s.

    • handle 1.1

      Labour being able to form a viable coalition depends on more grown-up behaviour than this.

    • Tim 1.2

      Yep …. and there’s my current problem with Labour as it stands ‘a.t.m’. Not JUST their inability to disavow themselves of failed neo-liberal ideology, but its attitude. I concede that for a lot of people, the sins you accuse Mike Smith of (above) may seem like nitpicking, but it goes to their attitude and sense of entitlement – often since they’ve decided to make a career out of politics (and I distinguish THAT from political representation of an electorate, and all electorates).
      I’m all for supporting Labour, and as I’ve said before – one of the best things to do for those that don’t like what’s going on with Labour is to become members – it doesn’t commit you to actually VOTING LAbour next time – and nor does it commit you to NOT making donations to parties such as the Greens. One of the best protests would be for Labour to have a HUGE membership but to find that members didn’t actually vote for them come election time
      I’ve been chastised before for commenting on threads from Mike Smith, however there is a ‘theme’ at play here, and its a theme that a lot of people (including myself) are pissed off with ESPECIALLY having supported them through thick and thin over a lifetime.
      Maybe one day they’ll get it. Right now they don’t (and I’m surprised some don’t – such as Robertson).
      Still, I understand how that sense of entitlement comes about. It’s hard to have to admit you’ve become completely out of touch with those that once fawned all over you.
      Good thing is, Key will soon be experiencing such a phenomenon and the outcome won’t be very pretty.

  2. NoseViper (The Nose knows) 2

    Imported goods being low priced because of a high valued currency must seem a good idea for politicians to keep the masses happy and in debt at the same time. Thus giving them an incentive to work the long hours that we have ended up with here.

    But that idea is worn out. People have been shocked into cutting debt and spending is down. The idea of a consumer fuelled economy is a disaster anyway – an indication that there is little else going on in a very flabby economy.

    And as I drag advertising from my mailbox (must get a no advert sign), much of it is flashing that it’s no deposit, don’t pay till 2014 stuff. So the Australian banks lend us money to buy whiteware and technology from Oz stores. And we let ourselves be sucked dry. Meanwhile the Aussies are laughing all the way to the bank, in fact several banks.

    Import licences based on export receipts? How about it??

  3. Lanthanide 3

    I’d like to see:

    1. LVR cap of 85% for mortgages. Could eventually lower it to 80%.
    2. Reserve bank drop the OCR by 1%, offset by the government imposing a new 1% mortgage tax, so mortgage rates would stay at the current levels, but instead of only paying interest to the banks, now the government would get a cut. Make people who own capital on tick contribute to the running of the country.

    • tsmithfield 3.1

      Some good thoughts Lanth. However, there is always the problem of unintended consequences. Firstly many small business owners often use their houses as a source of capital to fund their business. So, restricting bank lending ratios could affect employment.

      Secondly, a lot of bank funding doesn’t come from the RB, but rather from overseas. So, imposing a mortgage tax might indeed increase rates.

      • Lanthanide 3.1.1

        They use their houses as a source of capital because the banks make it so bloody difficult to get business loans. So how about fixing that problem. Adding the 1% residential mortgage tax would help because with a lower OCR, interest rates for other forms of lending could drop. Similarly the LVR would stop the gravy-train for banks and they’d have to expand their other forms of lending to increase their profits.

        “Secondly, a lot of bank funding doesn’t come from the RB, but rather from overseas. So, imposing a mortgage tax might indeed increase rates.”

        How? The OCR would be dropped in return.

        • CV - Real Labour

          Also, KiwiBank could be permitted to start playing hardball in the mortgage market place.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.2

        Secondly, a lot of bank funding doesn’t come from the RB, but rather from overseas.

        And that would be why bank notes, as opposed to reserve currency, makes up ~95% of money.


  4. NoseViper (The Nose knows) 4

    Sounds doable. Won’t get though. Pollies are sooo happy riding round in the BMW keeping the lid on everything in the country – it would be a shame to make waves by making changes, and they would have to explain them to their narrow-focussed (me, me) supporters.

  5. Tiresias 5

    But… but… but… How can the dollar be overvalued? Doesn’t the invisible hand know what it’s doing?

  6. Whistler 6

    Am sick of the ‘overvalued dollar myth’ . It is what it is. Compared to OZ and the US it’s not that high anyhow. Every country’s exports are someone else’s imports. Our exporters want our dollar lower so as to subsidise their commodities. Its effectively stealing from us to feather their nests.

    The same game is played in every exporting country.

    The real answer is to expose the other great myth that exporting is the only way to grow and to aim instead and move towards greater self sufficiency.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1


      But we won’t get that as building only to provide for the local market means that the local capitalists won’t have enough income to pay the interest that the banks are charging as well as make a profit.

  7. Fortran 7

    I would accept thet the Reserve Bank start by making the minimum LVR at 75% or 80% as above already stated.
    My first Bank Mortgage was max $15,000 at 6.5%, and second from a finance house at 16%, irrespective of valuation.

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