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There is an alternative

Written By: - Date published: 8:53 am, January 29th, 2013 - 48 comments
Categories: Economy, jobs - Tags:

Some people who don’t really understand economics think it’s all about confidence – if business would be more confident, they would then invest more and hire more people. In truth, confidence is merely an indicator that the fundamentals for growth are right. So, when Joyce accuses manufacturing bosses of ‘talking down’ the economy, he’s missing the point. Probably intentionally.

The manufacturing bosses and the EPMU at the first day’s hearing of the Manufacturing Inquiry were unequivocal – the over-valued dollar is killing us. And it’s simple to see why – sell $100 of product overseas in US dollars in 2001 and you got NZ$250. Today, you get $127.

You can innovative your arse off, but against that kind of declining return, you’ll be lucky to tread water.

And, in the last four years, manufacturing stopped treading water. Nearly 1 in 5 manufacturing jobs have been lost during that period.

It’s time to move the debate past ‘is there a problem with manufacturing’ and ‘is the high dollar that problem’? The answer to both is clearly ‘yes’.

Now, the question is ‘what do we do about it?’ The logical option would be to do what all our trade partners are doing to lower their currencies: capital controls, export assistance, quantitative easing, a lower official cash rate are all options.

It’s time to stop saying ‘there’s no alternative’ and, instead, start asking which alternatives we’ll choose.

48 comments on “There is an alternative”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    The logical option would be to do what all our trade partners are doing to lower their currencies: capital controls, export assistance, quantitative easing, a lower official cash rate are all options.

    That would be logical within the current economic paradigm but, considering how our economic system is destroying the environment, is it logical to continue to use the same paradigm?

    • Andre 1.1

      We need a ‘Reset button’ . and a government intelligent enough to Press it .. The long term outlook for western economics is only bad . New thinking is needed. The only option.

      • SpaceMonkey 1.1.1

        Following this current economic paradigm, the reset button is war. It’s going to take ballsy leadership to steer NZ in the direction we need to go because the root cause is the economic model itself: the concept of “growth” and consumerism. Until we address that, it’s not going to matter who is in Government, left or right… it’s the economic equivalent of pimping a ride with no engine.

        • bad12

          Aha, that’s a correct analysis based upon what the European nations have resorted to at various times in history when their Ism is threatened,(mostly by their own greed filled actions),

          How we keep our little country out of what i see as the building pressures for the sort of global scale conflagration our Leaders would happily fall all over themselves to involve us in, (or more to the point our young), is at present beyond me…

        • Rogue Trooper

          this Monkeys’ going to Heaven Surfer Rosy

      • McFlock 1.1.2

        Life doesn’t have a reset button. Why should the economy?

        • Draco T Bastard

          The “economy”, as its presently constituted, isn’t a natural part of life. The real economy is but the real economy isn’t related in any way, shape or form to the present financial system.

    • geoff 1.2

      Excellent point DTB but that is too big a problem for them to think about. That would require a collectivism that, presently, gets laughed at in the mainstream.

  2. Yes there is an alternative, a snap election,another 2yrs of this ramshackle nact govt
    doesn’t bear thinking about.

  3. PlanetOrphan 3

    Comeas back to DunnoKeyo playing his “Merrill Lynch” handbook.

    He promised all those people he’d borrow not print money, they in turn called him “UnCivilised” and tried to help by keeping our dollar strong so we can pay of the debt.

    Bloody Idiot should’ve listened to the IMF and printed money 4 years ago.

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      “He promised all those people he’d borrow not print money, they in turn called him “UnCivilised” and tried to help by keeping our dollar strong so we can pay of the debt.”

      NZ government debt is in $NZ, so the exchange rate doesn’t change how easy it is for us to pay it back or not.

      In fact, a high exchange rate actually discourages people from lending to us: in the past, for example, if someone wanted to lend the government $200NZ (ie, buy $200NZ worth of government bonds), they would take their $100US and buy $200NZ and then buy the government bonds, who in the future would pay them back $200NZ + interest. But now, if they want to buy $200NZ in government bonds, it will cost them $157US.

      • PlanetOrphan 3.1.1

        So why is our Exchange rate so high all of a sudden ?

        • Rogue Trooper

          maybe we need to pimp the Model T past the Baldwins down into Richmond; Dew Drop Inn?

          • PlanetOrphan

            Nice 2 cu Rogue, Not even a pimped out Model T will fix DunnoKeyos’ bad tuning M8!

        • mikesh

          The value of the dollar is determined by the relationship between imports, exports, invisibles and overseas borrowing. It is probably excessive borrowing, with the proceeds being pumped into the housing market, that is probably the main culprit. Lowering the exchange rate may be difficult because a change in one of the other variables can be offset by an increase in borrowing.

          • PlanetOrphan

            i.e back to printing more money ?

          • Draco T Bastard

            1.) Lower the OCR down to 0%
            2.) Make government loans available to everyone (business and mortgages) at 0%

            Exchange rate lowered.

        • Lanthanide

          Because the US and rest of the world have been devaluing their currencies.

    • bad12 3.2

      Indeed, the IMF in its interim report to the incoming National Government,(a report i can no longer find online) directly advised the National Government to seriously consider the use of quantitative easing,(printing money), to avoid the worst effects of the World wide financial crisis impacting upon the New Zealand economy,

      IMF interim reports are then referred to the incumbent Government for comment after which the full report is produced by the IMF,

      The full report when produced had had all reference to ‘quantitative easing’ expunged from it, so it was obviously a direct decision of the Slippery lead National Government to ‘borrow’ the Country into a massive Government debt even tho it had at hand,(and still does), the perfect tool to lower the New Zealand dollars international value while shielding the future generation from having to forgo social services in order to re-pay Government debt,

      My take on this is that it is simply playing politics by the National Government with the economy of New Zealand and the lives of future generations of this country,

      To be blunt, an attempt to ‘kneecap’ the economy so as to prohibit the next Government from being able to institute any further social programs and in effect trying to force upon that Government a panic situation where devaluation of the New Zealand dollar is considered via regulation,(a really stupid idea when the pluses of quantitative easing are so blindingly apparent and the tool will also lower the value of that New Zealand dollar)…

      • Rogue Trooper 3.2.1

        ahhh, devaluation devaluation devaluation (banks are courting property investors into “fixed terms” meanwhile Hickey forecasts mortgage interest rates rising later this, early next, Yeah Baby! The Carrot, then Stick it too them.

  4. higherstandard 4

    So we’d be better off if our dollar was at 0.40 to the USD ?

    • Lanthanide 4.1

      Manufacturers might be better off. The economy as a whole would unlikely be, largely due to the much higher oil prices these days (which IMO are part of the reason the exchange rate is high).

      Certainly manufacturers would be much happier with a dollar that was around 60-65 US cents.

      • higherstandard 4.1.1

        Indeed I always find it amusing that whatever the exchange rate is someone’ll be moaning.

        Certainly those countries with historically strong currencies too tough and as you say if our dollar devalued significantly consumer prices would increase significantly along with many of the imports utilised throughout our public health system.

        • tracey

          which is why everyone being tied tot he US dollar was simply a World Bank/USA idea that served only one point five masters

          • Draco T Bastard

            Actually, that was the Bretton Woods Agreement which is the agreement that set up the World Bank, the fixed exchange rates that existed after the end of WWII, and the US$ as the world’s reserve currency. Unfortunately, no one seems to have realised that by going to a free-market system there is no such thing as a reserve currency.

            • CV - Real Labour

              What people need to realise is that although the US Gov moved the US Dollar off the Gold Standard…they have effectively moved it to the crude oil standard.

              Which is why the US gets mighty twitchy every time a bourse starts up somewhere which allows the trading of oil in a currency other than USD.

              • SpaceMonkey

                Hence Libya… Gaddafi was courting African countries with a gold-backed dinar. It would’ve stuffed the US dollar and every other fiat currency. It was also one of (then) four nations without a privately owned central bank. Military intervention ensued.

                Iran, looking to get into bed with the BRICS nations, is also one those nations without a privately owned central bank. They are looking to trade oil in anything but the US dollar so you know what the noise is about… the banksters want that bank. The only thing stopping the US and Israel is an unequivocal demand from China – hands off Iran. China gets approx. 80% of its oil from Iran.

                Meanwhile China is amassing gold. No one knows exactly how much but it is estimated to be around 6,000 tonnes. All gold mined in China is going straight into their bank vaults. They may be looking to match the US reserves of 8,000 tonnes at which point China may very well choose write off the shitty US dollars they hold and back their currency with gold. That will send shockwaves through the global economy and it will not go down well with the central banksters. I would expect the response to be military… the US and Europe would have lost the currency war currently being waged at this moment.

                Meanwhile NZ has 0 tonnes of gold. We sold the last of our reserves in 1991 like the good little IMFers we are (to the IMF gold is not money). If the world moves back to a gold standard (and that’s a big IF because the banksters will fight it all the way) NZ is doubly fucked.

    • bad12 4.2

      No,we would be better off if the New Zealand dollar had a value of 70 cents against the US dollar, it is not the New Zealand dollar that has risen per se against the US dollar, it is fact the reverse,

      The US dollar as they have diluted their currency by printing money has lowered in value when compared with currencies all over the world,

      The National Government’s failure to follow suit,(even when advised to do so by the IMF),has simply seen our currency become over-valued at the loss of our Manufacturing sectors competitive edge and the loss of employment,

      There would have been very little negative effect had this National Government printed the 300 million dollars a week it currently borrows,

      What should have occurred with the Christchurch rebuild was the declaration of a ‘special economic zone’ which in effect would have removed the false ‘growth’ figures which will occur because of that rebuild in New Zealands total economic figures over the next decade,

      Including the rebuild in such economic figures will in effect force the Reserve Bank to further tighten the money supply to the rest of New Zealand as the ‘false growth figures’ from Christchurch can be contained within the Reserve Banks ‘Inflationary Targets Band’, BUT, growth elsewhere in the New Zealand economy will threaten a breach of that ‘inflationary targets band’…

      • bad12 4.2.1

        The ‘false growth’ of the Christchurch rebuild???, it’s simply this, the ‘growth in economic activity that will be recorded from the efforts of the Christchurch rebuild will in fact be the re-recording of ‘growth’ that previously occurred befor the Christchurch earthquakes,

        The Christchurch earthquakes destroyed the previous ‘growth’ and the rebuild will only replace that ‘growth’ as no accounting has been made of the actual loss of ‘growth’ from the destruction caused by those earthquakes recording the rebuild of Christchurch as ‘growth’ is then ‘false’ and such recording of that ‘false growth’ in the sum total of New Zealand’s economic activity at any time will simply give a ‘false’ distorted picture of overall national ‘economic activity’,

        So, what need happen??? an accounting need take place that identifies ‘the loss of growth’ as the damage caused by the Chrischurch earthquakes, this X accounting of loss then need be the basis from which ‘actual growth’ in the Christchurch region can have some ‘actual’ platform from which to be measured from,

        Lets use for example a figure of 30 billion dollars as the amount of loss caused by those earthquakes, for ‘actual growth’ to occur in such a scenario 30 billion dollars must first be spent into the local economy as earthquake damage repair or rebuild befor any ‘actual growth’ can be said to have occurred,

        My view is this, Christchurch until such time as that loss/growth equation has been equalized should be legislated as a special economic zone where the economic activity until such time as that loss/growth equation has become neutral does not figure in the recording of national economic data as to do so will build into the New Zealand economy a level of ‘false growth’ that will then generate a level of ‘false inflation’ and the actions ensuing from this will seriously damage the New Zealand economy…

  5. tracey 5

    How much have they borrowed since coming to office??

    • David H 5.1

      About 42 Billion bucks Not sure if that’S NZ or US currency.

      • CV - Real Labour 5.1.1

        NZ I think.

        Averages $250M – $300M pw.

        • bad12

          The interesting thing about discussions with people over whether that 250-300 million dollars a week should have been borrowed into the New Zealand economy or printed into that economy is the number of people,(including Slippery the Prime Minister), who seem to believe that borrowed dollars have ‘magic qualities’,

          Tell the average head that those dollars borrowed should have been instead printed by the New Zealand Government or more to the point the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and they will mostly begin spluttering about inflation,

          To believe in this inflation fallacy a person must also believe that pigs can fly, steamrollers really do roll steam,choclate fish can swim, the tooth fairy put that dollar under the pillow, and various other myths that i could spend half the night listing,

          Such people,despite all the evidence steadfastly refuse to believe that any of the currently borrowed 250-300 million dollars a week has come hot off of the printing presses from some other economy busily engaged in propping up the collapsed system of capital,and, such people,although they will vehemenently deny such obviously believe that a ‘borrowed dollar’ has magic properties which do not allow that borrowed dollar to create the merest % of inflation,

          Such believers in the ‘magic powers’ possessed by a ‘borrowed dollar’ would seem to include most of the Parliament including most of the Labour Caucus along with the Labour caucus Leader Dave Shearer who when discussing future Labour Government spending seems to be stuck, like a cracked record, at the word Borrowing…

  6. Enough is Enough 6

    Be careful what you wish for. What would happen to our fuel costs if the dollar was $0.65 US?

    How much more New Zealand cash would be sucked up and sent to the BP’s of this world if we could get our dollar to that point?

    • Lanthanide 6.1

      I’d guess around $2.30-$2.50 a litre.

      It would help drive effieincy and fuel conservation. Better we start sooner than later on that.

      • higherstandard 6.1.1

        Lets put a 300% tax on petrol.

        It would help drive effieincy and fuel conservation. Better we start sooner than later on that.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Why put in something artificial when we could just have properly costed fuel?

          Of course, that would require government regulation ensuring that all costs were properly accounted for that the free-marketeers would then say was artificial.

        • Lanthanide

          Or, lets be sane and phase in that 300% oil tax in over 10 years, so as not to suddenly jolt the economy with a big blow.

          Luckily Key and crew are already on it, raising petrol taxes by 9c over the next 3 years.

          • CV - Real Labour

            You just have to remember that real incomes will be declining all that time as well, so 300% may effectively be a real 500% increase and hence be too harsh.

      • Andre 6.1.2

        OR spend 12 billion of future spending on road ,That will help… Exon now biggest company in the world .

      • Enough is Enough 6.1.3

        Yep, and at that price what happens to our economy?

        I am curious whether we could cope in the short term with that.

        • Draco T Bastard

          It shifts to being more local and less dependent upon international trade.

          • blue leopard

            Whats wrong with going local and becoming less dependent upon international trade now?

            • Draco T Bastard

              Nothing as far as I can see but the currency traders and banksters will probably start to lose out.

              • CV - Real Labour

                And they will fight back. Hence the provisions in the TPP allowing dubious multinational corporate entities to sue the NZ Government.

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