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The reverse Midas touch: exchange rates

Written By: - Date published: 9:10 am, April 23rd, 2012 - 57 comments
Categories: exports, Minister for Overseas Holidays - Tags:

John Key likes to trade on his experience as a, well, trader. You know, he’s the deal maker. The one to steer us through tough economic times, to get our exports growing. He understands the markets and that knowledge will benefit New Zealand. But, how well has he really done? Let’s start this series close to home for Key: the exchange rate.

So, exchange rates have risen 30% under Key. With half of Kiwi exporters saying that the exchange rate is hurting them, that’s not good news. You might have thought our currency trader PM would have done something about that. It’s not like there aren’t options.

57 comments on “The reverse Midas touch: exchange rates”

  1. Bob 1

    Do you mean this bit from Labours site?

    ‘Monetary Policy. Labour has already announced that we need to change monetary policy to address the structural issues in the economy, including the volatility of the dollar that makes life difficult for exporters and high interest rates that discourage investment in productive parts of the economy. While curbing inflation remains important, having that as the single focus is not working for us. Our policy is to broaden the objectives of the Reserve Bank beyond just controlling inflation to look other issues, such as employment and to support more aggressive interventions to deal with currency speculation.’

    What is it that they would do?

    • McFlock 1.1

      I’d guess (ain’t in Labour) an FTT as a “more aggressive intervention”, also I take it a CGT would hit currency trades?
           
      But the use of interest rates would be the primary tool they’d be thinking of to tweak employment etc – every time they raise them to “slow down the economy and keep inflation in check” (okay, they haven’t had to do that in a few years) it kept unemployment up. By including unemployemnt in their target criteria, they’d find the balance between inflation and people having jobs.

    • mike e 1.2

      Not reveal all their policy well before the election because National and ConMankey would steal their policies as National have none.except smile and wave from pokifaced ConMankey.

  2. Enough is Enough 2

    Be careful what you wish for.

    The high dollar is protecting us to a degree from even higher oil prices.

    I will leave it to the economists to tell us what would happen to the pump price of 91 if our dollar lost 10% of its value.

    It would strangle this flatline recovery we are currenlty experiencing.

    • aj 2.1

      Yes there are pros and cons but the pro would be an incr in gdp? the con would be some inflation. It would not ‘strangle the recovery’ but it might strangle long distance commuters…

    • Lanthanide 2.2

      “The high dollar is protecting us to a degree from even higher oil prices.”

      Yep. We had a low dollar combined with high oil prices back in 2004, lots of news stories about people driving off the forecourt etc.

      Beyond the obvious that the oil price goes up in the US$ terms when the US$ sinks, I think there’s also a degree of insulation in the exchange rate. If the exchange rate were lower, that would increase petrol prices, forcing the exchange rate further lower as the economy struggled with the high prices, basically a negative spiral. But on the flip-side I think the reverse is happening: the high dollar is keeping petrol cheaper than it might be (and perhaps could be in other economies), helping businesses to be more competitive leading to a higher exchange rate.

      • Colonial Viper 2.2.1

        helping businesses to be more competitive leading to a higher exchange rate.

        The strength of the NZD has very little to do with the strength of our business sector.

        The vast majority of forex trading in NZD is not related to direct trade, it is related to market speculation.

        • Lanthanide 2.2.1.1

          I’d say it’s based on the interest rates the government and therefore banks are offering. Which in turn is based on the reserve bank setting interest rates based on the general business climate in NZ.

          If things hit the wall, the interest rate would go down, the banks would pay less and the exchange rate would drop.

          That is Labour’s whole point on this, after all, that the reserve bank should take into account the exchange rate when it sets interest rates. At the moment it only considers inflation.

          • ianmac 2.2.1.1.1

            Wasn’t this another issue that Winston has long advocated? That is to modify the Reserve Bank Policy beyond just concern around inflation.

    • Colonial Viper 2.3

      You can’t mask fossil fuel energy depletion for long. By letting the dollar appreciate (i.e. let our economy lose out in the currency wars occurring all around us) our economy does not get the price signals needed to drive a restructuring away from a dependence on personal cars on roads and trucking.

      It would strangle this flatline recovery we are currenlty experiencing.

      There’s not going to be a recovery. We’ve hit the downslope of energy availability/price chart. Economic growth per capita is now over for the developed western countries.

  3. Pete 3

    I’m not really prepared to blame the government for this one. The US, UK and the Eurozone have all engaged in several rounds of quantitative easing over the past half decade – dropping the value of their currencies for the exact same reason we want our currency to drop: to make exports more profitable and to stem cheap imports from China to encourage domestic industry.

    There was one instance in mid 2007 where the RBNZ spent $2.7 billion trying to stem the rise of the $NZ., clearly that was a failure. Given that our manufacturing industry is so small and so many of the things we need are bought from overseas, I’m not so sure that a currency intervention would be beneficial. Especially since commodity producers have been enjoying record prices lately.

    • bad12 3.1

      Governments tho would seem to have as their main responsibility the creation of economic conditions,(where possible),that provide the best framework for the New Zealand economy to operate within,

      Watching the Reserve Bank squander a couple of billion dollars attempting to change the international price of the New Zealand dollar was both tragic and comic,(up in smoke went enough monies to have paid for many years of extra Paid Parental Leave or decades of extending the Working for Families tax credit to the children of benefit dependent families,

      Using the present economic paradigm of neo-liberal right wing economics I can see there is no need for the use of either the useless squandering of monies or the heavy blunt instrument of Legislation to effect a downward trend in the international price of the New Zealand dollar,

      For instance,Government need only print into the economy a sufficient amount of capital to dilute the price of the NZ dollar in international markets,

      An excellent ‘end-use of such money production would be to simply build 20,000 State Houses over a contracted four year period,thus producing a standing asset that in turn justifies having ‘printed’ the money in the first place,

      In a flat-lining economy such as what New Zealand has had since 2008 there is little inflation,but even so,in terms of the neo-liberal ‘inflation target’ it is a simple matter of numeracy to know what X figure of new spending into the New Zealand economy will result in which Y of inflation as %,

      Given those known x and y’s makes the 3-4% annual inflation target an easy band to operate such a fiscal policy from within, while also diluting the international price of the New Zealand dollar by producing more of them in the economy,and at the same time building a much needed piece of social infrastructure…

      • Gosman 3.1.1

        I’m constantly amazed how popular Social credit policies are still in NZ when countries that have followed similar policies have tended to end up in a mess economically.

        • McFlock 3.1.1.1

          You’d also be amazed that countries that followed the opposite policies ended up in the shit, too.
             
          You must look like someone constantly tripping on mushrooms. 

          • Gosman 3.1.1.1.1

            You mean countries who practice restrained fiscal and monetary policies, allow their countries to be open to foreign trade and investment, and don’t pander to sectorial groups in policy settings do no better than countries who print money for supposed productive investment? I find that hard to believe. Care to show me some examples of this?

        • bad12 3.1.1.2

          Deep within the mind of the neo-liberal apologist of free market economics lives the ‘profit driven fruitcake’ surfacing occasionally to spit the odd piece of low level insipid abuse at anything that could threaten the constant fantasy of growth,profit,and,wealth,

          My example above,’print’ the money required to build ‘in particular’ State Houses while all the time spending that money as the State House build into the economy so as not to upset the neo-liberal constraint of 3-4% inflation over any financial year,in fact produces its own growth,profit,and,wealth,

          The value of the houses so built obviously equals the market value of their building,IE,the cost of producing a functional house and the functional suburb it would sit in from scratch is around $400,000,so in terms of current House prices the building of the suburb and the Houses therein equals in terms of dollars the current value and cost of production thus producing an item(s)of the same value as the money that was produced by printing in order to build that item(s)…

        • mike e 3.1.1.3

          goose name the countries

    • prism 3.2

      You miss the point completely Pete.

      Given that our manufacturing industry is so small and so many of the things we need are bought from overseas, I’m not so sure that a currency intervention would be beneficial. Especially since commodity producers have been enjoying record prices lately.

      The government has traded our productive economy away to get more dairy etc commodity business. We are far too over-committed in the dairying area, unhealthily unbalanced, and would be wiped out if there was some disease setback. Example the kiwifruit industry and golden kiwifruit fungus. It is important that we fight to retain and improve our productive economy to a healthier state. Our currency shouldn’t be a number on the world currency casino. It has a serious repressive effect on our health and wealth.

      • Pete 3.2.1

        I agree, much broader structural change is needed in our economy – to get us making stuff, adding value to our primary production and creating new intellectual property. But that goes far beyond any calls for the RBNZ to attempt to moderate the exchange rate.

        Edit: restoring the R&D tax credit would be a start. Maybe even providing low interest government loans to new, locally owned businesses.

        • Draco T Bastard 3.2.1.1

          Maybe even providing low interest government loans to new, locally owned businesses.

          Not low interest, zero interest. Available to all businesses and households to either a) replace existing debt or b) expand the business buy a new house. Watch as the NZ$ falls on the FX. Becomes to expensive to import? Not a problem, just means we have to make it here and that means investment into R&D and manufacturing.

          The only problem really is that, under current socio-economic circumstances, the capitalists would take all the benefits.

        • prism 3.2.1.2

          @Pete R&D encouragement yes, low interest government loans and small grants to new locally owned and strategic innovative businesses yes. Also encouragement to the public to invest in a Risk Innovation NZ National Fund. There would be a number of businesses and projects in different sectors in each offer. People are willing to take on risky investments with the possibility of good returns and some of their investment portfolio could be allocated to this area. Get people used to investing in real ground-breaking projects that didn’t involve trading in land!

          Better science funding without so much wasted time in applying for short term funding, yes. Moving out from under the land speculation, mining, primary industry shed, to more of the complex science and knowledge in that area, and in ground-breaking stuff we already know we can do, and have to make space and funds so we can do more, yes.

          Example of lack of essential scientific funding in NZ. – Bovine tuberculosis comes to mind here. I was amazed that we haven’t found out what indicators can be used to test a herd when tuberculosis is found. The animals on a farm recently had to be all slaughtered so they could be checked. Or that’s what I was told. A hell of a loss. That sort of scientific research would be so worthwhile when there was successful breakthrough.

          Also foot and mouth disease I understand, can be vaccinated against. The outbreaks of this disease are so devastating, and the loss of heritage animal strains in forced culling as in Britain was a sorry sight in the last big outbreak. The waste and disruption caused by fighting this disease should be matched by reasoned attempts to prevent it. We can organise a group looking into emissions from animals, why not precationary measures like this?

  4. prism 4

    When listening to specialist financial commentators on radio they seem unable to cope with anything that changes the regular pattern of rise and fall they are used to.

    To change anything would mean to add a variable that is new to them and will affect the investments they advise on or manipulate, perhaps detrimentally. Key is no different, he made his money within the system so would think “If it isn’t broke (for me and my mates) why try to fix it’?

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      The orthodox neoliberal economic models they have all been using cannot deal with or explain a prolonged and severe economic downturn. This is why they are all struggling to say something cohesive. In their minds “market equilibrium” must return, probably sooner rather than later, and they are really confused as to why it has not yet.

      Blame has gone on a slow Christchurch rebuild, weaker dairy prices this year, etc. but they still do not see the bigger picture.

      • bad12 4.1.1

        Explaining the current ‘decline’ should be simple even for the ‘neo-liberals’,

        Such people only need to revisit the main tenet upon which the ‘ism’ sold itself to the world,

        ”The international free market played out upon the level playing field”

        Lets have a brief look at that foundation of the ‘ism’ and its fundamental ‘flaw’,it simply wasn’t,played upon a level playing field that is,

        The international ‘level’ playing field could only ever have been described as such if 2 factors of economy were to be a standardized constant,

        (1),All the economies involved would have had to have as a basic given a ”minimum wage” of equality,

        And (2),All economies involved would have to have as a basic an equality of the means of exchange,to stop being a wanker and putting it in words we all understand, for there to be any such thing as an ”international free market played out upon a level playing field” all the countries involved would have to have MONEY of an equal value between all those countries,

        Therein lies the current decline of all those economies supposedly involved in this supposed interantional free market…

        • Gosman 4.1.1.1

          Current decline? Much of the Western world has been treading water over the past few years or even slowly increasing their GDP. It is only countries where the Government spending was shown to be unsustainable that have suffered massive declines. On top of this is the fact that a huge number of countries are now increasing their wealth massively at the moment (mainly based on free market policies).

          • bad12 4.1.1.1.1

            Treading water,increasing their wealth ???really???is that what you call the ‘printing’ of US$ Trillions of dollars of bail-outs,

            The only thing that has occurred in the Western world economies under the ‘free market model’ is the ongoing over inflation of the illusion which has simply allowed the populace to retreat further into the delusion…

          • bad12 4.1.1.1.2

            PS,such ‘increases’ in wealth and GDP in all those Western economies have been accompanied by s corresponding increase in the numbers of people within those economies being judged to be living at or below the judged ‘poverty line’…

            • Gosman 4.1.1.1.2.1

              Which is normally set at a percentage of some sort of income level in the country they live. In my mind this is almost meaningless. The ‘average’ person in poverty in the Western world today would be regarded as having a level of wealth that even upper middle income people 200 years ago could only dream about.

              • Colonial Viper

                Yes Gosman, thanks for using pre industrial revolution times as the baseline.

                Doesn’t really change the fact that the top 1% have hoarded excesses of wealth and power, while others living just down the street and around the corner are going hungry and cold.

                • Gosman

                  You mean usinf the condition that the vast majority of the population of the planet lived in for the vast majority of the time until free market capitalist ideas allowed people to escape this condition? I make no apologies for using this as a baseline. However I will grant you that absolute poverty is an issue that should be tackled. This is as opposed to comparative levels of poverty whereby someone is poor simply because they earn a fraction of what a wealthy person does.

                  • bad12

                    No what we mean is that vast numbers of people lived in poverty even while working for the Capitalist Masters sometimes for hours far above the standard 40 and at ages as young as 9 until such time as unions of workers formed in an effort to banish such practice to the dark ages where they belonged…

                  • McFlock

                    […] until free market capitalist ideas allowed people to escape this condition? 
                        
                    Your faith in capitalism has gone into cult status, like the soviets in the 1940s who were taught that comrade Stalin invented penicillin, designed the Moscow Underground network, single-handedly developed the T34 tank, and had a 15-inch penis.
                       
                    Maybe you should pick up a history book. 

                  • Colonial Viper

                    This is as opposed to comparative levels of poverty whereby someone is poor simply because they earn a fraction of what a wealthy person does.

                    Fuck that

                    The problem of this economy is not just the unemployed, but that of the working poor. You work a full time job but there is no way that you can raise a family on it.

                    While say, Talley’s, rip away the economic value added that your labour provides, to put into their own already overflowing pockets.

                    91% income tax on income over 20x the median wage would be a good start.

              • joe90

                Yeah, and flushing shitters would be regarded as having a level of wealth hygiene that even upper middle income people 200 years ago could only dream about.

                http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/04/the-100-year-march-of-technology-in-1-graph/255573/

              • bad12

                Meaningless???the basic level of ‘dole’ payment including accommodation subsidy in New Zealand in no way meets the monetary requirement of any individual to house,feed,and, clothe that individual,

                Comparison with the unemployed person of 200 years ago is to deny both human and societal evolution,as pointless as a comparison of poverty in developed and under-developed economies,

                To use either,the anecdotal 200 years ago or the poverty of the under-developed as a comparison with the socially evolved modern Western economy is the ultimate escapism of those who cannot face the responsibility that in the creation of what they see as ‘wealth’ they are creating a corresponding number of impoverished individuals…

                • felix

                  “Meaningless” to Gosman means “does not immediately impact on my own personal comfort”.

                • Gosman

                  No, it is the definitished of impoverished that is at issue here. Compared to Bill Gates I’m seriously impoverished. However I’m much better than say someone living in an African Squatter shanty town.

                  • felix

                    Your last sentence is very revealing.

                  • bad12

                    I am not interested in comparisons with Bill Gates,just as we are not interested in a comparison with a tribal member currently residing in a South African shanty town,

                    The measurement of poverty in New Zealand is best deduced from within the equation of does the payment to an adult which is the least amount of income possible for that individual,(the dole),in any way match the basic needs of every day life for that individual,IE,rent,food,and,clothing,

                    They don’t!!!affordability of survivability for those receiving that minium of income,(the dole), for any period of length past a month is reliant upon either further subsidization from the State and/or further subsidization of the individual by family or private charity,

                    Marketization of labour simply leads to those able to be employed but less likely to be employed,(for what-ever reason),to remain for longer periods receiving that least amount of income in which case such impoverishment becomes entrenched…

                    • Gosman

                      The dole is not meant to be a long term living wage. It is meant to enable someone to tide themselves over for a short to medium period of time.

                    • felix

                      It is meant to enable 150,000 people to tide themselves over for as long as it takes for the jobs to arrive.

                      FIFY

                    • bad12

                      So you again fail deliberately to have any understanding of ‘labour as a market’,such a failure on your part is a simple pointer to why the neo-liberal economic ISM is in fact doomed to indulge in what Trotsky once described as an ongoing series of failures each of an increasingly severe nature,

                      In a labour market those with the most marketable skills at any given time,(and at any given time is the imperative within this narrative),will always be employed first,

                      There are those tho,who by age,looks,skills set,or in fact WHATEVER will always be shuffled to the back of the queue of employment, depending upon who is in control of the neo-liberal ISM at any given time ie,with the imperative to either reduce inflation to protect their ‘wealth’ or their ‘amount of interest paid on the mortgage the number of those in this ”unlikely to be employed” category as a percentage fluctuates between 10 and 20% of those unemployed,

                      Any given time???,Ok take the boner at the meat-works who having sold His/her labour for 20 years to the company is now made redundant through the dairy conversions having reduced stock numbers to a level where His/Her employment is now no longer needed,

                      At 50 years of age our meat-works boner is now to all extents and purposes of no ‘use’ to the labour market BUT is still a number,(25% of)on the roll of the unemployment benefit….

                    • bad12

                      ‘The Dole’,or to be more precise the number of those collecting the dole is simply the measurement of the success or failure of ANY Governments economic policy,

                      If we were to pay the minimum wage to all those who currently receive the dole we would in effect destroy the incentive for the numbers on the dole being used to protect the ‘wealth’ of the ‘Haves’ off of the backs of the ‘Have Not’s’,

                      Tax the profits of capitalism to pay the minimum wage to the unemployed and such a rising tax at times of rising unemployment would simply incentivize the capitalists to keep the number of unemployed to a bare minimum…

          • mike e 4.1.1.1.3

            GOOSEMAN care to name these countries
            China totalitarian Dictatorship
            Singapore likewise
            Germany taxing and spending Europe out of recession
            Goose your a pathological LIAR
            You have never been able to name a country not one since I,ve been reading your pathetic propaganda

            • Matt 4.1.1.1.3.1

              “Goose your a pathological LIAR”

              Come on, that’s unwarranted. He’d first have to know something in order to misrepresent it.

      • prism 4.1.2

        CV I thought that market equilibrium was a theoretical feature used in modelling and unlikely to be ever achieved unless there was a recession and stasis?

    • bad12 4.2

      Unfortunately you are correct, those who stand to ‘gain’ the most from within the present money system will be the most loath to make even neccessary changes to that money system,

      Such a money system is basically corrupted as money is at its most basic simply the means by which we exchange our labour between each other to allow our daily living,

      Where this corruption has occurred is in allowing money as a mass to be in effect hoarded as what is termed wealth,

      As there is only X amount of production that can occur in any economy at any given time based upon the amount of money in that economy allowing individuals to ‘hoard’ masses of this money as ‘wealth’ simply reduces the ability of those without the means to ‘hoard’ such masses of money in their efforts to exchange their labour as the means of obtaining their daily living,

      Allowing such ongoing hoarding of masses of money over longer periods simply means that an economy will always be struggling to avoid decline as the amounts hoarded will not produce an equal amount of ‘production’ requiring the exchange of labour as those amounts would had they remained in the economy as their basic means of exchanging labour for daily living,

      PS,the abbreviation of all of the above is that old adage,”Money is made round to go round”, with the added codicil that stopping any of it going round is done at ones economic peril…

  5. Gosman 5

    ‘With half of Kiwi exporters saying that the exchange rate is hurting them, that’s not good news.You might have thought our currency trader PM would have done something about that.’

    NZ exporters might have a problem but NZ importers (and by extension many NZ consumers) are probably quite pleased.

    If anything the PM experience would have realised the futility of trying to manage FX rates.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/september/16/newsid_2519000/2519013.stm

    • Colonial Viper 5.2

      NZ exporters might have a problem but NZ importers (and by extension many NZ consumers) are probably quite pleased.

      Yeah too bad both those groups of people dangerously worsen our balance of payments and trade deficit figures.

      Essentially our exchange rate is hurting productive, innovative NZers trying to do real work in NZ – design and make things for sale overseas.

      Seems like you are OK with that as long as you can get a cheaper overseas holiday out of it.

    • mike e 5.3

      Goose lying again The US China UK Europe have had no problem devaluing their currency john no balls keywe has the problem, like everything else he can do to grow the economy he,s done nothing nothing except cut funding especially on R&D which is criminal in my opinion

  6. DH 6

    The easiest way to get the $NZD down is to address the demand for it. Stop foreign buyups of NZ land & buildings and the $NZD would fall by itself, the current account deficit is largely due to foreign investors buying the $NZ to invest here. Also cut the offshore borrowing by the big banks which puts more pressure on the $NZD

    Higher fuel cost isn’t a valid argument for keeping the dollar high, Govt can manage that via excise reductions. They’d get the cash back through economic growth.

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