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Copying Iceland & Ireland bad idea for NZ

Written By: - Date published: 10:30 am, February 16th, 2010 - 52 comments
Categories: capitalism, Economy, jobs, john key - Tags: , , ,

You know how the world has been through the worst financial crisis in decades? You know how countries like Ireland and Iceland who had made themselves into financial hubs via tax breaks for banks are now deep in the crap with burgeoning debt and unemployment? Why don’t we do what they did?

That is John Key’s latest half-baked master plan for the economy.

The Capital Taskforce and Key haven’t revealed how they would attract finance companies to set up backroom operations in New Zealand, but tax breaks seem like the obvious choice.

Without a hint of irony or self-awareness, Key sites the example of Ireland, which secured many finance jobs from London with tax breaks and other enducements, as one to emulate. Key himself moved many Merril Lynch jobs there from London. How many of those jobs still remain, do you think? Not many.

It was fun for Ireland while the party lasted but that’s no basis for sustainable wealth. As soon as the markets turned, as they inevitably do, Ireland and Iceland found themselves having to spend billions bailing out subsidiaries of foreign-owned banks, lest they collapse and take their domestic economies down too, and massively overextended from a spending and tax cut partly paid for by debt and premised on ever-lasting growth.

Real wealth is not created by swapping pieces of paper, it’s not created by digging up irreplaceable minerals. It is created by sustainable use of our natural resources, and the skills and talents of our people. Key does not seem to understand that.

To create a trifling number of jobs, Key is willing to expose our entire economy to an Iceland scenario. As always, he is looking for the lazy way out, the quick fix. In doing so, he puts our economy at great risk.

52 comments on “Copying Iceland & Ireland bad idea for NZ”

  1. randal 1

    thats right eddie. for all his wealth it is not possible to buy an article made by john key and co.
    to fall into the icelandic trap is to go down believing that what you say is true and if you disagree then you must be mad. I listened to an icelander the other day on the radio saying that in a year or so it will be all go for iceland again just like it was beofre. yeah right.

  2. Bill 2

    Would that require ultra fast broadband by any chance? Ultra fast broadband that can be paid by us, but that won’t extend to us but that is essential for the saving of n-ths of a second in a world of electronic based wheeling and dealing?

  3. Bored 3

    Jonkey’s idea is basically bovine excrement, myopic and based upon the premise that all is well with the world as he knows it. We all know why this is not so, so rather than draw the barbs of the CCDs, the techno fantasists and other sleep walkers it might be better to propose an alternative agenda for investment in the future. Heres a start:

    • education in the use of tools (machine tools, agricultural implements, hands on engineering, wood work plumbing) so that at least we have a workforce capable of using their hands to make things (as opposed to driving trucks and delivering goods from China).

    • investment in localized small scale infrastructure and energy manufacturing industry to create the preconditions for both local supply and export (so that we can use the above skills).
    • focus on high end scientific education alongside a rebuilding of our agricultural, scientific and biotech research centres ( as opposed to having clever people chasing digital money in a failing banking environment).

    • investment in sustainable agricultural training and practices that will enable the transition of our agricultural sector from petrochemical dependence to a self sustaining supplier of food to a world with failing supply (again using the skills of the above high end people).

    In short a bit like going back to the economy of the 1960s and trying to keep it there whilst the rest of the world reverts to 1800. Any more ideas out there to add to the policy list?

    • Fisiani 3.1

      So having seen how not to do something we can learn from their mistakes and then do the job properly. Or do you have such a low opinion of the calibre and quality of ordinary Kiwi traders.
      eg Ireland and Iceland made square wheels . We will make round ones.

      • Bright Red 3.1.1

        do explain, Fisiani. I so love your faith in Key. Explain what he will do differently

        You know that what Ireland and Iceland did was encourage foreign banks to use their economies, so they could skim some cash and jobs off the top. That’s exactly what Key is proposing.

        Apart from that, Ireland and Iceland didn’t do anything ‘wrong’ they didn’t cause the meltdown. Their problem was they had exposed themselves to it inevitably as a result of doing what Key wants to do here.

        • Fisiani

          My faith is in ordinary Kiwi traders to do a good job. Apparently up to 5,000 new jobs actually.

          [lprent: Put in a link. If I see more of these assertions without backup, where you ignore followup requests by other commentators, then you will be treated as a troll and subject to my special attention (hint – most people don’t like it).

          How to put in links is in the FAQ. ]

          • Fisiani

            A link to what assertion? Do you mean the 5,000 possible financial jobs as quoted by John Key on TV1. Its on TVNZ ondemand. That’s not an assertion by me.

            • ghostwhowalksnz

              What about the finacial sector jobs that Key was responsible for when working in that area here .
              He closed the office, fired the staff , but saved his own arse by going straight to Sydney

            • Bright Red

              Methinks those 5,000 jobs are like the 3,500 cycleway jobs we were promised.

              • Fisiani

                Yep possibly another 8,500 productive new jobs in the pipeline plus hopefully another few thousand from surgical mining. Hope you celebrate when it happens.

              • Bright Red

                I’ll celebrate when we see those 3,500 jobs from the cycleway.

                When are they coming Fisiani? How long are you willing to wait?

              • Fisiani

                An assertion of a claim of 3,500 jobs from BRIGHT RED and not a link to back it up.
                I thought that was policy (see above). Surely same rules should apply to all posters. Shame.

          • Draco T Bastard

            No, you’re faith is in delusional economic models.

            • expat

              Is it possible for The Standard crew to not bait and beatup posters who disagree with them like Fisiani.

              Debate, discussion etc not beatup and closedown woudl be nice 🙂

      • ghostwhowalksnz 3.1.2

        Yeah right . we have this history of financial geniuses who just need to show the world how good we are.. Their names are listed on the records of Mt Eden/ Paremoremo

    • Bill 3.2

      Any policy that empowers the local or peripheral at the expense of the centre with the caveat that it should not lead to an overall disadvantage having to be absorbed across society…

      eg. policies designed to ensure that goods, services and products are increasingly ( eventually completely) under the control of the people and communities that use, produce or are affected by them…

      ..allowing for the development of services, goods and products that do not have obsolescence built in..that are produced to last ‘ a lifetime’…in other words, a radically new manufacturing base not predicated on endless growth and production of profit for remote actors…

      …okay, in short, a revolution.

      Will anything less suffice?

  4. Scott 4

    You mentioned Ireland and Iceland, but forgot to mention Luxembourg. That country is also a financial hub – and is rich.

    • Bright Red 4.1

      Luxembourg has banks etc based there and has built up huge government reserves. That’s not what Key is proposing, he’s proposing the failed Irish model.

    • lprent 4.2

      I suspect that the difference is that they started a *lot* earlier (about the Napoleonic wars according to my memory). So their bubbles were long in the past.

      But somehow I suspect that the National party doesn’t have the patience to make that work.

  5. Tigger 5

    Key is so over the droll PM stuff that he is trying to set up a government run business based on his talents that he will run out of DPMC?

  6. Chris 6

    History repeats: NZ, during the revolution, was to be the ‘Switzerland of the South’, acting as a financial hub, according to that august and wise politician, Roger Douglas.

  7. The Baron 7

    I don’t know why the left hate any mention of Ireland so much…

    While they have taken the downturn incredibly hard, there was many, many good years prior to that. The net benefit of the policy direction has been, and still is, vastly positive over the length of its implementation.

    In that time, Ireland had free tertiary education, high employment, massive wage growth and pretty damn good income equality scores.

    So, ah, what’s this “failed Irish model” that you refer to Bright Red?

    • Tigger 7.1

      Much of Ireland’s ‘success’ is due to EU money. It was success built upon handouts.

      • The Baron 7.1.1

        Yeah, that’s PART of the answer too. Does that invalidate all of the other policies that they put in place? Does that make the example entirely irrelevant? I think not – despite the quantity of subsidy (and I have heard this line bandied about too much without any real facts behind it – would anyone care to enlighten me) I still think there is more relevance here than irrelevance.

        Which begs the question really… if the policy prescription was that you could have all of those benefits, but lower taxes was part of the model, how would the left here respond?

        I suspect that despite free education, high employment, massive wage growth and greater income equality that some of you would still find the outcome unpalatable,,,

        • Bright Red

          Ireland has recieved 55 billion euros from the EU since it joined in 1973, with a population the size of NZ. That’s a huge subsidy.

            • The Baron

              Wow, so that averages about $2b a year.

              Not really “massive”, in the order of about 1% of their current GDP, which currently stands at $174B, or per capita of $39,441 which makes them 8th in the world. 2009 numbers, so some of the financial crisis must be in that too (thanks Wikipedia).

              Compared to NZ… $27,083. No free education. No recent history of low unemployment. No massive services based economy.

              Lets go back to the original question. How is this a failed model again, because it seemed to be delivering everything that the left want through a low tax model. Oh, and while they have fallen on hard times since, they are still massively more wealthy than us, despite a roughly even start. Can’t claim it was subsidies either!

              Eddie, there is so much we can learn from what they did. Do we have to ignore them purely because of their low tax policies? Cos that seems like ideology over results to me!

              • Sam

                I fail to see how $2bn a year (completely ignoring inflation I guess) is a small amount of money? I mean sure you can compare it to their GDP and it looks small, but this money is going to the government’s coffers, is it not? Ever so slightly different…

                And I don’t see how it would work exactly here either, I think that’s presuming quite a lot. I mean, Irelands makes sense if the financial institution is in London or somewhere in Europe – that’s still a fuck of a lot closer than New Zealand is to them. I’m not going to pretend I know exactly what the utterly flakey terms “back” and “middle office” mean but it seems to me that having some crucial aspects of your business operating in a country with a fucked timezone, shithouse internet, and one hell of an expensive and long plane ride away doesn’t seem that intelligent.

                Oh and it’s also presuming that the financial crisis is over and there’s no second dip coming, which is again, dubious.

                Ahh well, the tories have always had a hard-on for Ireland, I guess it had to come up some time.

              • The Baron

                Again, they would have to fall mighty hard to be worse off than us. We were once equal – their innovations have got them to where they are now, and while risky, they remain far better off than us.

                I don’t understand your point about where the subsidy is going. Of course it is going to the government. How is that relevant? And I never claimed it was a small amount of money – I only said that 1% of GDP isn’t a “massive” EU subsidy, and cannot explain the 4%+ annual sustained growth that they had during the boom period.

                But back to the main argument – I would rather have 10 years of 4%+ growth, followed by 10% down in one; than 2%+ growth per year if we are lucky, followed by 0% for two. I like it that Key at least has some ambition for growing NZ wealth – whereas all I see here and from Labour is that everyone appears to have actually given up on that idea.

                I also like it that you have still ignored the core points here. Another one that would prefer to have high taxes at all costs huh? This ideology-first approach to policy really is holding you, Eddie, and Labour back.

  8. Gosman 8

    My understanding of the Iceland collapse is that the Government set interest rates at such a competitive rate that a large number of international investors were willing to pour huge amount of money into the country, more than their entire GDP of Iceland. This money was then used to spend on investments in places like the UK on various dodgy investments as well as for conspicuous consumption. When the International credit markets dried up at the start of the crisis the debt servicing became impossible and the nation had to nationalise the banks that collapsed and default on the debt.

    How is this anything like what is being suggested happen here with the back office processing of international banks financial transactions?

  9. Bill 9

    So while NZ wants to be Iceland and everyone laments the state of journalism here, guess what?

    That’s right.

    Iceland aims to become haven for investigative journalism

    ‘Parliament to vote on Wikileaks-backed law that would protect sources, guarantee freedom of speech and end libel tourism’

    • Gosman 9.1

      Where is the evidence that what is being mooted is anything like what happened in Iceland?

      You might as well claim that he wants NZ to become like North Korea, or Israel, or Belize.

      • Bright Red 9.1.1

        Gosman. He wants it to be like Iceland. The others weren’t converted into hubs for foreign banks by tax breaks.

        God you’re dumb sometimes, and yet you blindly support something you clearly have no understanding of.

        • Gosman

          Where has he stated he wants to be like Iceland?

          I have stated how what happened in Iceland bears little resemblance to what is being mooted, where is your evidence that it is like the Icelandic example?

          • The Baron

            I wanna be like Iceland.

            GDP per capita = $40,471 as of 2008. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iceland. Oh, and they have a “Nordic welfare system”, which I guess means that you should all be in love with the place.

            Minus 20% for the meltdown is still about 25% better than we are.

            Wheres the failure again?

            • BLiP

              Perhaps you missed this.

              • The Baron

                You reckon that they will end up poorer than us at the end of this? If so, the poor bastards, cos that is a massive way to fall.

                Still heaps of water to go under the bridge yet, but GDP per capita has dropped only by 5.5% in that article you link to. I made an allowance for 20%, and they are still heaps better off than us, with heaps more social services too.

                So while I certainly agree its a risky approach, have you got anyway of refuting the fact that these models have delivered far better outcomes than even the almighty Labour Govt did with all its intervention, tax hiking and redistribution?

                Doesn’t that suggest that these models should get more consideration than the ideological “low tax = BAD”?

  10. Adrian 10

    To illustrate how much Key the boofhead has his finger on the pulse, google “Merrill L Ireland” and its a saga of job losses , bad advice, dodgy dealings and hefty fines bought by govt agencies. Not something anybody with a brain would want to be proud of.

  11. sk 11

    This is a much better idea than digging up the conservation estate. We can’t say no to everything. I do not see where the risk with this lies. Being a fund management centre is completely different to the Iceland story (Icelandic banks offering high rates to depositers in the UK and Holland), or Ireland (which was a property boom based on joining the EU and the euro).

    The real question is whether this is just another one-liner from John Key, or something more substantial. I suspect the former, as it is not straightforward to do this.

  12. Pascal's bookie 12

    What does this bit mean?

    Asked why an overseas fund would want to be administered here, Mr Key said if there were legal disputes, it might not want to have those resolved in the country where the funds were invested.

    I’m sure he doesn’t mean anything dodgy by it, but he should be clear about who we aren’t rolling out the welcome mat to, no?

    • sk 12.1

      It is about using the talent we have here, particularly as our schools/uni’s are structured to produce lots of accountants / lawyers (something about rigidity vs creativity – which National Standards will only increase). So with EU standards increasing pressure on Luxembourg etc, and offshore tax centres under pressure re: laundering, there is an opportunity here. The days of dodgy tax centres are over. There is a space for a clean, transparent fund management centre, particularly in the Pacific Rim . . . But it has to be done right. And it is not a qucik fix.

  13. Gosman 13

    Still waiting for someone to explain the linkage to what was mooted by John Key to Iceland. Perhaps Eddie would like to explain his reasoning behind bringing Iceland into this topic.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 13.1

      Expecting some detail from Key ?

      Dream on. Its just the latest in a long line of kites he has floated, with no policy basis.

      For gods sake the GST – Tax cuts thing was left to Bill English to come up with the details – ‘later’
      With Key its all ways ‘airhead talking’

  14. randal 15

    come on the vikings.
    get in your boats and do something marvellous like create money out of nothing.

  15. vto 16

    iceland should have stuck to fish.

    ireland should have stuck to potatoes.

    new zealand should have stuck to clean and green.

    • Bill 16.1

      iceland should have stuck to fish….the British kept trying to steal the fucking fish (Cod Wars)

      ireland should have stuck to potatoes…the British again..land, crops, export.. Oh yeah, and the blight.

      new zealand should have stuck to clean and green….em, yup. No argument there. Shame about the British though.

      • vto 16.1.1

        ha ha, yes the British have over recent centuries exhibited some of the less favourable attributes of the human condition courtesy of their ability to simply do so (power).

  16. randal 17

    well this column seems to have descended into the written equivalent of radio squawkback but when somebody can answer where did the money go with any veracity then most everybody wiv an opinion is just whistling in the dark.

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