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Deepening the stockmarket

Written By: - Date published: 11:26 pm, July 11th, 2010 - 48 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war - Tags:

Can someone explain to me this ‘deepening the stockmarket’ line that the Right uses for privatisation? I consider myself reasonably well informed on these issues but I just can’t see the value to the country of the government selling public assets to a handful of stockmarket participants. Why is ‘deepening’ the stockmarket by giving up our public assets a good thing? And good for whom?

If the stockmarket does need deepening, why can’t the private sector do it for itself? We keep hearing that these rich captains of private sector industry were the wealth and job creators, why can’t they make successful companies themselves without a government handout?

The sad fact is that the largest companies in New Zealand are nearly all public assets, failed privatisations that have received or need bailouts (Air NZ, Telecom), or the beneficiaries of past privatisations, were set up with special legislation (Fonterra), or the foreign banks.

Is ‘deepening the stockmarket’ just another line like ‘mum and dad investors’ or ‘tough on crime’ or ‘balancing our economic opportunities with our environmental responsibilities’ or ‘taking the sharpest edges of the recession’ that sounds good and kind of clever but is actually just a fig leaf to hide what is really going on, in this case an attempt by the capitalist class to grab public wealth.

48 comments on “Deepening the stockmarket ”

  1. loota 1

    The right is grasping at ideological straws at the moment. The real way to get a substantially deeper stock market is by having a constant stream of exciting, privately held entrepreneurial NZ companies with high growth prospects launching their IPO’s on the NZX. IPOs which make international investment funds and local investors sit up and think to themselves “we’ve got to have a piece of that IPO”.

    Problem: there is no pipeline of such companies in this country looking to IPO. And any suitable prospects which exist would prefer to list in Australia or the US because that gives them instant international profile. Or to offer themselves for 100% sale to a multinational and be absorbed.

    Plonking another public behemoth or two on to the NZX is going to do nothing to change this situation at the grass roots level. It is not going to change the fact that the NZX is not getting the outstanding IPO prospects it needs to stay a vibrant and lively equity market.

    • Lanthanide 1.1

      “stay a vibrant and lively equity market.”

      Why does it need to be a “vibrant and lively” equity market? What is bad about not being “vibrant and lively”?

  2. BLiP 2

    “Deepening the market” means increasing confidence amongst buyers and sellers so as to facilitate a greater volume of transactions and, thus, line the pockets of the middle men. Money changers cannot each make their $50 million and not produce a single widget until such time as they can clip more and more tickets on larger and larger items. What we are seeing now is the banksters that put John Key into the Beehive starting to sniff around looking for their payback. Sit back and watch as major national infrastructure projects are funded via PPPs and the functions of government agencies are centralised and then privatised.

    You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

  3. Con 3

    Is ‘deepening the stockmarket’ just another line like ‘mum and dad investors’ or ‘tough on crime’ or ‘balancing our economic opportunities with our environmental responsibilities’ or ‘taking the sharpest edges of the recession’


    Now go on, give us a hard question!

  4. Santi 4

    It can only be a good thing to spread capitalism. What do you suggest instead? More of a socialised economy that has seen NZ slipping in the OECD ratings?

    Sell as many opublic assets as we can.

    • Pascal's bookie 4.1

      Sell as many opublic assets as we can

      In what way is that capitalism? Sounds like a socialist business model to me, with the state doing all the up front risk taking and investment.

      Did you even read the post?

    • Bored 4.2

      Santi, please explain what a socialised economy really is? Lets take an SOE, it is supposed to work in a commercial manner so it might as well be a company, except that it is owned by a large shareholder, the state aka you and me. So here we all are, shareholders in a “capitalist” concern. So why should I allow my asset to be sold? I will only end up paying more for its services whilst not collecting a dividend. Thats hardly in my self interest is it?

      When you and your pill brained ilk argue for privatisation of public sector concerns what you are really arguing for is the ability to charge rents to the public for services they must have (as opposed to buy by choice). You in effect advocate not freedom but serfdom to the rentier class.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.3

      Considering the simple fact that capitalism is unsustainable then spreading it is actually bad.

      • Santi 4.3.1

        Draco, for that statement I award you the igNoble Economics prize.

        • Bored

          Santi, I would give him First Class Honours for stating the obvious that you so obviously dont even see. Capitalism cannot function with out growth, nothing can grow forever, ergo capitalism is unsustainable…….(as is anything other economy that relies on growth). Logic is not your strong point is it?

          • Macro

            Regretfully Logic is not the strong point of the vast majority who are sadly imbued with the impression that the world order of today is the way it must always be. They completely fail to see that the business model that brought the world to its present state is quickly running out of resources and the Capitalist model only generates wealth for the “wealth generators” (bankers). They are fed this sop by the msm who are also under the impression BAU is all that matters.
            You can’t watch the news at 6 without any item of “News” being looked upon from the standpoint of greed. What’s in it for us? Spain wins the world Cup – what’s in it for NZ? No wonder the general public have no conception of what might actually be a sensible view of sustainability and what actually matters.

            • Bored

              Mushrooom territory, but we do however get to see the sunlight if we are prepared to pull the curtains or perhaps if somebody does it for us. Stuff the msm.

  5. Emp 5

    Deepening the stockmarket is wrong. New Zealand investors should only be allowed to invest in the Cullen fund, so that the government decides where people’s money goes. Oh and kiwis should pay 100% tax, since according to you socialist morons all government spending is actually “investment”.

    • loota 5.1


      I do believe the question was – please explain what ‘deepening the stockmarket’ is all about, and why the private sector has failed to do the job itself?

      As I have already mentioned, looks like the NACTs are going to try and artificially make up for the lack of actual entrepreneurial high growth potential IPOs in this country by flogging some publicly owned assets on the NZX.

      • Jim Nald 5.1.1

        NACTs should be flogged electorally before they even attempt to flog our publicly owned assets.

      • Emp 5.1.2

        The private sector has failed to do its job deepening the stock market because for the last 10 years the government has created distortionary tax incentives helping rich and middle class people hide their money through property investment to get tax write offs. Only happens when you tax the shit out of people but give a blind eye to property investment write offs and trusts. What was labour’s response to this? Oh yeah that’s right helen clark owned half a dozen properties herself and half labour’s cabinet had trusts and property investments. The growth in the last ten years was from the property bubble and government spending, not private sector investment in productive companies.

        Stick half a dozen soes on the stockmarket and see middle class investors putting their money in the stockmarket where real growth happens, not in property. What does labour want to do? Oh yes more of the same, tax income rather than spending and only use the cullen fund to invest. You socialists don’t know shit about making money. You just want to make the labour party rich by feeding off taxpayers.

        • loota

          Emp – that doesn’t address the issues of a dearth of entrepreneurial activity in the SME sector.

          “Tax the shit out of” – you’re dreaming – NZ continues to have one of the lowest rates of overall tax in the OECD. You do know VAT in the UK is going up to 20% right? And inheritance tax and…

          Putting SOEs on the NZX is hopeless because they are already part of the economy. The main point of having an IPO is to raise funds for major entrepreneurial expansion and growth. Not for growth of the exchange itself.

          • Emp

            taxing the shit out of is relative loot. If you tell me I pay less income tax by putting my money in proeprty than if I put it in shares, then I will of course put it in property. No brainer. Labour did nothing about this and encouraged it, even with its own ministers building huge property portfolios. Labour sucked on building the economy, all they did was spend taxpayers money.

            • Bored

              Labour sucked on building the economy

              Hmmmm, governments are not (especially in the view of the right) supposed to get into the business of producing goods etc for sale, not actual production of wealth….that so I have been lead to believe by advocates of free enterprise is the role of the market, certainly not the role of the Labour government heaven forbid.

              all they did was spend taxpayers money.

              Been to hospital lately, driven down a road perchance, sent children to school perhaps? Maybe even employed a trained and educated person? Wonder how all these things happen?

              • Macro

                You forgot police justice and defence. Of course they run on the smell of an oily rag so don’t count.
                ooops I forgot environment captcha “rivers”
                But we don’t want to spend any money on the environment – it can look after itself!

                • Bored

                  Thats the ultimate big one Macro, the buggers might not be so inclined to loot the environment if they had to pay to do so. Look at the f*****g Crafars, environmental vandals.

                  Capcha resourcing…..

          • jagilby

            “Putting SOEs on the NZX is hopeless because they are already part of the economy.”

            You’re forgetting about the transparency and accountability that public listing provides. I thought you guys on the left were all about transparency and accountability?

            Seems not – you’d rather have cushy state directorships for your cronies (a charge you regularly leverage at the right) who, with a history in academia/student politics, are well used to zero accountability environs.

            In case you hadn’t noticed, there is little confidence in our pathetic excuse for a capital market. No liquidity, a public with little/no financial literacy (hookwinked by the bile that comes from the likes of Marty G). Big public IPOs would bring funds management the necessary exposure after years of neglect from the MSM.

            • Bored

              Hey Jag, as somebody who is on the board of two private companies, and management team of two more, plus has owned several companies please explain to me in empirical terms and governance terms with reference to relevant parts of the Commerce Act how being listed makes a company more transparent or accountable.

              • jagilby

                Hi Bored,

                As somebody who is a Chartered Accountant, a CFA charterholder, has provided advice to some of New Zealand’s largest listed entities on issues of value and strategy and now provides professional investment recommendations I would like to ask you to not look at the Commerce Act but to specifically look at the Corporate Governance principles and guidelines of the New Zealand Securities Commission for additional governance and disclosure obligations imposed on public issuers in New Zealand:


                In addition to this the NZX provides it’s own set of corporate governance best practice suggestions (read: investor’s corporate goverannce expectations) for market participants:


                Oh, and on top of that you have the actual listing rules of the NZX:

                Can I please draw your attention specifically to rules surrounding Continuous Disclosure.

                It’s OK, none of these obligations or best practice expectations would be placed on you as an owner, director or executive in a private company so I couldn’t have expected you to have any knowledge of them.

                Let me know if you want any more free advice, always willing to help.

                • loota

                  Well if transparency and disclosure are the objectives, just have the Minister for State Owned Enterprises make the SOEs subject to similar rules (or even more stringent ones).

                  The SOE doesn’t have to publicly list to be subjected to such regs, no biggie there. Further, the Crown can put more acid on the Board and executive management of the SOE for strict compliance with those regs, more than the NZX could ever hope to. The Crown can even appoint new Board members if a serious issue of compliance arose, something the NZX cannot do.

                  • jagilby

                    Sorry, you don’t get it.

                    It’s never the shareholders or even the Sec-Com who puts heat on the public companies to maintain compliance with Corporate Governance best practice – the shareholders are akin to the silent majority in society i.e. silent. It’s the institutional fund managers, analysts, and the index itself that puts the most pressure on these companies to step up to the mark with disclosures.

                    Government is akin to shareholders in this situation – they sit idle and pump money into these entities who proceed to piss it away without anyone imposing any genuine financial discipline.

                    There is a lot to say for 3rd party independent market discipline and that is what guys like Rob Cameron have tried to explain for eons. You lot would do well to put your ideology aside and have a cold read of the Capital Market Taskforce recommendations.

                    • loota

                      Ok thanks for that. Am unsure why analysts from S&P etc. should be considered particularly effective at holding public companies to account. Their methodologies have been shown to be far less than water tight.

                      One comment I do have issue with is your idea that Govt pumps money into SOEs who then proceed to waste it without “genuine financial discipline”. Yes this may be the case in some instances, but it is not necessarily the case. You are of course aware that several governments around the world own huge sovereign investment funds. In effect that government *owns* one of the parties enforcing 3rd party independent market discipline on other organisations, demanding “genuine financial discipline” and adequate ROI’s for their governments.

                      In other words, governments do not have to sit on their hands as if they are idle shareholders; instead they can actively hold for-profit organisations which they own (or part own) perfectly accountable should they choose to, and construct the right structures to do it through. Several examples exist of this being done successfully over many years.

                    • jagilby

                      S&P? S&P is a debt rating agency (??? – with all due respect you sound out of your depth). I’m talking about equity analysts publicly berating companies with poor boards and management. S&P analysts only comments periodically on issues that affect borrowing risk (e.g. covenant breaches). S&P ratings do have heavy implications for debt issuers, but no, S&P does not generally hold publicly listed companies to account.

                      Equity analysts scrutinise every single announcement or disclosure made by a listed company. In fact the New Zealand super fund, in all likelihood, would rely upon the recommendations made by external equity research house (i.e. investment banks) in order to weight its investment portfolio. That’s the way ACC operates.

                      Entities such as Meridian, Genesis and MRP have no where near the number of regulatory disclosure requirements of thier listed private sector comparables (Contact and TrustPower). The government doesn’t scutinise the investments that these SOEs make in the way it should – each investment announcement should be assessed against relevant cost of capital – that doesn’t happen.

    • Tigger 5.2

      I wouldn’t want this incompetent government deciding how to spend 10c let alone 100% of my tax dollars. You on the other hand are probably creaming yourself at the idea of letting your lord and master John Key spend your money.

  6. Sanctuary 6

    These incompetent twits have burned through one entire stockmarket already; now they want the New Zealand taxpayer to give them another one to play with?

    • Bored 6.1

      Thanks Sanctuary, thats the most profound if simple statement, the buggers cant even make cash with what they have, now they want to buy state assetts to rent back to us. Thats “creative” capitalism at work.

    • loota 6.2


      The Right wing seem really are out of ideas for building up the entrepreneurial base of the economy.

      Building depth and strength in the SME sector by deregulation, monetary policy, selling off Govt interests and lowering taxes? Hopeless.

      The woes of the NZX are merely a symptom.

  7. tc 7

    Blip is on the money (pardon the pun) but any excuse to chuck another entity onto our own ponderosa has all it’s cowboy capitalists rubbing their hands together and the kaching they’ll make at the expense of the consumers/recipients of whatever products/services that business generates earnings on.

    Any business wanting a decent listing goes to Oz where they run a proper exchange (with regulators that bite!) not this little cosy boys own club Weldon presides over which between him, Rebstock and Diplock has seen some of the worst instances of poor governance right through to outright theft….PPCS/Richmond meats, Feltex, Finance companies too numerous to mention and many breaches of disclosure by SkyCity and others all unpunished.

    Watch out as these jokers try and justify why more entities should be foisted onto their joke of a market…..Weldon’s remunerated on the exchange value and has been snapping up media outlets who are anti-Fonterra listing and is to be watched at all times.

    Deepening the market actually means deepening Weldon and a select fews pockets.

  8. prism 8

    Good post Marty G. The role of the private entrepreneur who has bought up business and can access investment funds ex the stock exchange seems a big factor. Then of course there are the regular failures by what appear to be mainstream businesses, not only finance but trusted names like Feltex.

    And the stock exchange itself is a business trying to make a profit. If that fails it would make NZ business look as if its very backward.

    captcha- worth

    • loota 8.1

      “Look as if”? Interesting… perhaps it actually is, since the troubles of the NZX are merely symptomatic of a much larger malaise in the SME sector.

  9. tsmithfield 9

    Anything that allows NZers to contribute towards financing the government on a voluntary basis (i.e. partial share floats or the like) rather than a compulsory one (i.e. taxes) has got to be a good thing.

    • loota 9.1

      Now that’s an ideology of the Friedman faithful if I ever heard it.

      And when the Govt gets its lump of cash from an SOE sharefloat, uses it to finance its operations, spends until its all gone, what should it do next? Float the SOE again?

    • Bored 9.2

      TS, You are so consistent we could have predicted this statement. Tedious, boring and pillock brained, but hey Mr Consistent. Your statement by the way if deconstructed displays a vast degree of contempt for your fellow citizens. Well done, obnoxious aswell.

      • tsmithfield 9.2.1

        Thanks for the compliment. 🙂

        As a matter of general principle, wouldn’t you rather put money into something because you thought it was a good idea, rather than have someone take your money and invest it in ways you might not like?

        • prism

          Funny ts, (though not amusing) I think that was what the man with his head in his hands on the cover of a past Listener once said.

          He had been trying to recover his money (retirement savings) from the fine investment firm he had chosen to put all, nearly all, his and his wife’s money with. I think he had just found out how many 10 cents in the dollar he was getting back and it was less than he had dreamed and dreaded.

          • tsmithfield

            I would have thought a government-owned company with a partial share float would be a safer bet than a finance company, Prism.

            But by that argument, wouldn’t that man be even more pissed off if someone else had taken his money, invested it in a finance company without his consent, and then lost it all for him?

            • Quoth the Raven

              Since the public assets were built up with taxpayer money in the first place the best method of privatization, the free market method of privatization, is not selling it to the highest bidder but giving it to back to the people. If they then wish to sell their shares in the enterprise that’s their choice. Alternatively it could be turned into worker or consumer cooperatives of the workers/consumers who are already are a part of it. That’s the method that was proposed by various free market economists, but sadly not enacted, for the decommunisation of ex soviet bloc countries.

            • felix

              Didn’t happen that way Tony.

            • loota

              OK, so selling shares in SOEs is better than letting people put money in failed finance companies. Hopefully you will have more compelling points to build this case with, ts, you need them.

  10. felix 10

    Just for the record, are youse guys no longer pretending that the NACTs aren’t gonna privatise anything?

    Cos that’s what youse have been saying since before the 2008 election but it seems suddenly youse have all changed your tune.

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