Do you remember back in the day when Bill English didn’t want to put any money into the Cullen Fund? Remember how certain people on the right of the political spectrum started talking about how silly it was to borrow money in order to save money. If you go back a little further we find that Bill English himself thought the whole idea of borrowing money to save was “nonsense”
Well I remembered being told that borrowing to save wasn’t a good idea, so I was a little surprised to learn that over the past few months the government has been borrowing $100 million a week more than necessary because they wanted to put the money away in the bank. Of course, they have a fairly sound reason for doing so, the government can borrow money fairly cheap now compared to what is expected towards the end of the year, earn interest on the money, and, so, both reduce its costs for rebuilding Christchurch and spread that cost over time. It’s a very sound strategy; the same strategy as putting money in the Cullen Fund now to spread out future superannuation costs, and make returns on the savings over and above the cost of borrowing.
The main thing to take from this though is that the government recognises that in some circumstances it is prudent to borrow money to invest in entities like the Cullen Fund. So, when National ignored Treasury’s warnings on lost returns and suspended contributions it had more to do with the National parties dislike for the Cullen Fund than conservative fiscal management.