Stopping contributions to the Cullen Fund was always going to stand out as one of John Key and Bill English’s most economically inept decisions. They chose to stop the Fund buying assets just when they were at decades low prices, Crown borrowing was cheap, and markets were already recovering. The cost in just four years: $2.5 billion. And rising.
Even with Key’s record borrowing binge now coming to an end, the Nats still don’t want to resume salting away money for the superannuation cost explosion. They want to wait until 2020/21. That happens to also be the date they say they will start building the City Rail Link – a date chosen in both instances because they know they won’t be in government when it arrives.
My quick calculations from Cullen Fund returns data show that if National had kept contributing $2 billion a year to the Super Fund, then the Fund would now have $11.1 billion more in it – $3.1 billion of that from returns – against an added borrowing cost to the Crown of $0.6 billion. In other words, by cancelling the Cullen Fund payments, Key and English cost us a net $2.5 billion so far.
And, because the Fund’s so much smaller now than it should be, the cost will just grow exponentially over time, something made worse by the fact that contributions still won’t resume for another 8 years if National have their way. Oh, and because the Fund is smaller than it should be, when the contributions resume they will legally have to be bigger in a desperate attempt to fill it up to size.
Just assuming that the Cullen Fund makes its target return of 2.5% above the Crown’s cost of borrowing, delaying contributions until 2021 will cost a net $6.5 billion by 2021. On its track record to date of beating the Crown’s cost of borrowing by 4%, it’ll cost us $9.2 billion by 2021.
By the time we reach the point of starting to use the Fund to pay for superannuation in about 2030, there will be tens of billions of dollars less in it than there should be – and the gap will have to be made up by taxpayers.
Even the Herald is now realising what a huge mistake National has made. Even the fucken Herald says Key and English are financially incompetent and should be resuming Cullen Fund payments.
The fact is, we can’t afford not to.