Economy healthier than expected

Written By: - Date published: 11:42 am, November 4th, 2008 - 34 comments
Categories: economy, election 2008, wages, workers' rights - Tags:

The latest government accounts show the economy is in better condition than was expected. Tax take was $500 million higher than expected due to higher-than-expected income tax revenue. That means more money was being earned from wages and salaries than Treasury had forecast; in other words, unemployment is not rising as fast as Treasury had expected. The other effect of employment holding up better than was expected is that government spending on benefits was lower than forecast. Company profits are down, perhaps due to losses on the international markets and the sharp drop in the exchange rate. GST is in line with expectations, so domestic spending is doing OK. All in all, really good news and indicates, as Don Brash says, we are in the best possible condition to weather the international financial crisis.

That crisis has hit the Government’s financial investments. They are worth $1.8 billion less than was expected before the meltdown hit. Markets will go up and down, so the Operating Balance Excluding Gains and Losses (OBEGAL) just looks at the balance between revenue and spending. As Treasury says “By excluding gains and losses the OBEGAL gives a more direct indication of the underlying stewardship of the Government than the operating balance”. That was a $900 million surplus in the three months to September, $500 million more than expected.

Since the end of that quarter, the Government has introduced tax cuts and new spending which will lower the surplus. The new financial statements don’t update Treasury’s forecasts for coming years but, with employment apparently holding up better than they thought, it is likely the deficits in coming years will be smaller than projected.

Gross government debt is a little higher than expected at 17.8% of GDP (vs 17.2% forecast) but the net financial position was right on forecast – net assets of 5.7% of GDP.

So, as good news as there could be given the international situation. There was nothing that could be done to avoid losses for our financial interests when the world markets went into free-fall and company profits have also been hit but the real economy and, most importantly, jobs and wages are doing better than expected.

[as a side note, Treasury has consistently under-forecast employment and over-forecast unemployment for years; ever since unemployment went under 4% four years ago, they’ve been saying it would soon be back above 4%. I wonder if their model fails to account for the self-reinforcing effect of full employment.]

34 comments on “Economy healthier than expected”

  1. randal 2

    New Zealand supplies the world with high quality protein food so it is no wonder that we are ok
    Its only the New Zealand sux campaign led by John Keys and the Natoinal party that takes the opposite view

  2. scribe, whats wrong it my analysis, apart from the that Herald’s sensationalist coverage has a different angle? My coverage is closer to the Treasury sec’s press release

  3. yl 4

    Scribe,

    The post says ‘healthier than expected’.

    There was talk of the books being 2.3bil in the red. Not the 0.8 that they are.

    Smile Scribe, we are in one of the best positions to pull through this mess

  4. Scribe 5

    Steve,

    My coverage is closer to the Treasury sec’s press release

    NBR and Stuff take similar lines to The Herald. Things are $1.7 billion — with a B — worse than expected just a couple of months ago. Forgive me for not seeing the silver lining.

    yl,

    Yes, we are in a good position. We’re about to vote in a centre-right government.

  5. BeShakey 6

    “Things are $1.7 billion — with a B — worse than expected just a couple of months ago. Forgive me for not seeing the silver lining.”

    A large amount of that will be losses in the Cullen fund, ACCs fund etc. Just like other long term investments, these are critical, but short term fluctuations in their value are not. Of course it’d be nice if they went up year after year, but any smart invester will tell you that isn’t the way long term investments work. As SP noted, for the short term, the OBEGAL is much more important.

    “Yes, we are in a good position. We’re about to vote in a centre-right government.”

    If only we’d voted them in in 2005. We’d now be in a much much worse situation and be about to vote in a centre-left government to fix the mess. I guess we’ll see on Saturday whether people really do get the government they deserve.

  6. Stephen 7

    Tax take was $500 million higher than expected due to higher-than-expected income tax revenue. That means more money was being earned from wages and salaries than Treasury had forecast;

    “Dr Bushnell said corporate tax and GST were $200m and $100m respectively higher than forecast, but that was due to reversals in accruals relating to an earlier period.”
    -Herald article

    Whatever that means, but apparently it’s significant.

  7. randal 8

    well they certainly dont deserve a swingeing, grafting, cheeseparing, hornswoggling, gerrymandering crew like the gnats who will smile as they rob everyone blind so they can build up their portfolios, tick their silly little boxes and retire to the south of france on yours and my money!

  8. Herald and stuff the same NZPA report, scribe. And I’m not surprised to see the media being sensationalist or the NBR rightwing. I don’t take my analysis from the media, that’s why people come here because they want better analysis than they get from the media.

  9. vto 10

    SP your post is more about the government books than the economy. Two different things. One is the host and the other the epiphyte.

    But mixing them up is one of the reasons I struggle to bring myself to vote for labour. It reflects the obsession with carving up the pie rather than growing the pie.

    Best example is WfF – it is a sad day when people on the highest tax rate and incomes well over 100k require govt assistance to merely survive (and on the govt’s own admission!). It bothered me when it was introduced and it bothers me now. And that the left can’t see the fundamental flaw in this situation exemplifies the issue.

  10. yl 11

    Vto,

    your comment about working for families is misleading,

    A family with one child on 70000 doesn’t get any working for families.

    http://www.ird.govt.nz/calculators/tool-name/tools-c/calculator-wfftc-estimate-2009.html

    so pull the other one.

    I dont think anyone likes the fact that we have wff, but do we need it? i would say yes

  11. Phil 12

    Stephen,

    Tax take was $500 million higher than expected due to higher-than-expected income tax revenue. That means more money was being earned from wages and salaries than Treasury had forecast;

    “Dr Bushnell said corporate tax and GST were $200m and $100m respectively higher than forecast, but that was due to reversals in accruals relating to an earlier period.’
    -Herald article

    Whatever that means, but apparently it’s significant.

    What that means is Treasury got 300mln that was supposed to arrive in the coffers at some point in the past, which means they were actually very close to forecast, and their assumptions about the underlying economy are probably about right.

  12. dave 13

    I don’t take my analysis from the media, that’s why people come here because they want better analysis than they get from the media.

    Oh that’s just so funny Steve.

  13. Scribe 14

    Steve,

    I don’t take my analysis from the media, that’s why people come here because they want better analysis than they get from the media.

    But meanwhile, just an hour or so earlier….

    My coverage is closer to the Treasury sec’s press release

    I’m sure the Treasury’s thankful that you’re drinking the Kool-Aid.

    [the Treasury are the experts. I’m quite comfortable when I read the source data and my conclusions are the same as the experts’ (before you say anything, that doesn’t mean I always think experts are right but they’re more likely to be right than media who want to cause a fuss. SP]

  14. Lampie 15

    yl

    No wonder some are voting National for all the wrong reasons

  15. yl 16

    Lampie

    “yl

    No wonder some are voting National for all the wrong reasons”

    sorry i dont follow?

    captcha: off trolley (me!)

  16. cocamc 17

    yl – i used the calculator and with one child on $70k of annual family income i do get a credit $14 per week

  17. yl 18

    Sorry i just ran it too,

    you are correct the cut off is 74001. Still it is misleading.

  18. vto 19

    yl, the fact that WfF is needed at all speaks the largest volumes re Labour’s failure to provide an economy that can provide. And it is Labour who claims the last 9 years economy.

    p.s. it is not misleading at all. the govt offers assistance to some families with well over 100k income.

  19. yl 20

    vto,

    i would argue that it is still there because we have not recovered from the effects of the 1990’s.

    There are 50000 more children now living above the poverty line since 1999, so that is good and because of wfftc.

    have you ever tried to put toothpaste back into the tube. It is easier to do something than under do something. Clearly we still need wfftc,

  20. vto. WFF is tax breaks for families.

    less than $10 million from the 1 odd cost of WFF goes to families with incomes over $100K.

  21. Daveski 22

    Borat is rumoured to be our next Minister of Finance under a Labour-led govt:

    NZ slipping behind Botswana and Borat

    I think this is vto’s point at 1.44.

    Captcha – la punting

    Indeed, I will be before 5 pm 🙂

  22. vto 23

    Hey, I hear the various things you are saying but you are avoiding the fundamental flaw that WfF exposes – namely that Labour’s introduction of government assistance to help out those who are on very high incomes and the labour govt’s at the time recently introduced 39c tax rate (they can afford it! remember?) is an admission of systemic failure.

    On the one hand the labour govt says these people are rich and should be taxed at the highest rate, yet on the other hand the labour govt says that they need govt help to merely survive!

    I mean, what does it say about the economy (that labour claims)?

    If everyone requires govt assistance then who supports the govt?

    It is a little like the recent govt bailouts of financial institutions. Effectively everyone has underwritten everyone. Doesn’t take an einstein to realise that these situations are unsustainable, or rather, fundamentally flawed.

  23. vandem 24

    vto – While WfF for families with incomes over 100k may look inequitable at first glance, this is a balance against “Effective Marginal Tax Rate” or clawback. It’s a classic welfare policy dilemma. You either set a low entry point (and/or high exit point) and low marginal clawback rate, or higher entry point (and/or lower exit point) and higher marginal clawback rate.

    I haven’t done the math, but suspect that if WfF has a lower top cap, say 60k for family of 4 children, marginal clawback rate (= tax + reduction of WfF) would be 100% or more of any extra $ earned in wages / salary.

  24. BeShakey 25

    “Borat is rumoured to be our next Minister of Finance under a Labour-led govt:

    NZ slipping behind Botswana and Borat”

    Sigh. How come the supporters of the party that is supposed to be more focussed on the economy know so little about economics? Economic growth is much easier to achieve in third world countries. Obvious if you think about it – build a few roads in Botswana, and improve communications, for example, and you’ll probably see a large jump in the economy. The same thing in a first world country wouldn’t be noticable. I personally don’t like OECD rankings for comparing countries (it’s like the idea that parents should all complain if their child isn’t top of the class), but NZ does very well compared to other similar countries.

    “I think this is vto’s point at 1.44.”

    I think his point was that the government books aren’t the same as the economy. If you read SPs post I think his point was more that the books reflect certain parts of the economy (eg if unemployement skyrockets the books will take a hit). The fact that the books look good is a reflection of strength in the economy, not that they are the same thing.

  25. Daveski 26

    BS the broader issue is that our economic performance continues to decline year on year, even allowing for 9 years of the good Dr’s medicine.

    I agree the accounts are in relatively good order given what’s happening else where. But Cullen can’t take the credit for this given the reason for our stability here is a lot of the changes made in the 1980’s and 1990’s that many here would like to see turfed out.

    I accept the link is a slight digression. However, it provides some stats to support the view that NZ needs to do better (apparently having a view that NZ can do better is the same as saying “NZ sux”).

  26. Lampie 27

    sorry i dont follow?

    Some who vote National are basing it on misleading information such as vto here and his idea of wff

  27. randal 28

    well Keys whole schtick is lies and misinformation with a cocodile grimace wrapped round his otherwise surly mug so dont expect too much from his followers…this years angry mob…rebels without a clue

  28. vandem. you’re exactly right. that’s what bill english was talking about in the first secret agenda tape when he said key didn’t understand kiwisaver

    vto. government receipts, seeing as taxes are collected as percentages of other economic measures, show us what is happening with those other measures.

  29. vto 30

    Lampie, how do you know who I vote for? I don’t follow your post.

    Mind you, nobody seems to have followed the main thrust of my posts. Or perhaps they have simply refused to answer the elephant in the room.

  30. BeShakey 31

    “BS the broader issue is that our economic performance continues to decline year on year, even allowing for 9 years of the good Dr’s medicine.”

    The point I was making was that, using the measure suggested, this is false.

    I agree the accounts are in relatively good order given what’s happening else where. But Cullen can’t take the credit for this given the reason for our stability here is a lot of the changes made in the 1980’s and 1990’s that many here would like to see turfed out.

    Not just here that you are in a minority with that opinion.

  31. Chris G 32

    vto: “Or perhaps they have simply refused to answer the elephant in the room.”

    Hah, no. I just read your deluded views on WfF and why it came about, laughed, continued on with my business.

    Definately no elephant in the room.

  32. vto 33

    so ChrisG you see no fundamental flaw in increasing the top tax rate to 39c on those earning over 60k ‘because they can afford it’ and then later offering those on EVEN HIGHER incomes government assistance ‘because they need it’?

    Nobody has answered it including you (other than a deluded claim which is a bit useless)

  33. Ianmac 34

    Rumour: Bill English leaked the E-mails for the Hollow men.
    Winston has been cleared by the Police.

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    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    1 week ago
  • Democracy – I Don’t Think So
    So, those who “know best” have again done their worst. While constantly claiming to be the guardians of democracy and the constitution, and respecters of the 2016 referendum result, diehard Remainers (who have never brought themselves to believe that their advice could have been rejected) have striven might and main ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • Government says it will now build just one really nice home
    Following publication of this article, the Ministry has requested it to be noted that this supplied image is not necessarily representative of what the final house will look like, and it “probably won’t be that nice.” As part of today’s long-anticipated reset of the Government’s flagship KiwiBuild policy, Housing Minister ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and your cup of coffee
    Over the next week or two we will be running three synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016).  The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Marx began Capital not with a sweeping historical ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Still juking the stats
    The State Services Commission and Ombudsman have released another batch of OIA statistics, covering the last six months. Request volumes are up, and the core public service is generally handling them within the legal timeframe, though this may be because they've learned to extend rather than just ignore things. And ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: Time for a New Deal: 25 years on
    In 1994, I was editing an ambitious street mag called Planet, from a fabled office at at 309 Karangahape Road. The thirteenth issue of the magazine was published in the winter of that year and its cover embodied a particularly ambitious goal: the end of cannabis prohibition.I wanted to do ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Not impressed
    KiwiBuild was one of the Ardern government's core policies. The government would end the housing crisis and make housing affordable again by building 100,000 new homes. Of course, it didn't work out like that: targets weren't met, the houses they did build were in the wrong place, and the whole ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Solar beats coal
    As the climate crisis escalates, it is now obvious that we need to radically decarbonise our economy. The good news is that its looking easy and profitable for the energy sector. Wind is already cheaper than fossil fuels, and now solar is too:The levellised cost of solar PV has fallen ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • A Step Too Far.
    A Crown Asset? For reasons relating to its own political convenience, the Crown pretends to believe that “No one owns the water.” To say otherwise would re-vivify the promises contained in the Treaty of Waitangi – most particularly those pertaining to the power of the chiefs and their proprietary rights ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Where Money Comes From
    Most people would say, no doubt, that they have a pretty good idea of what money is. They live with the reality of money every day. It is what is needed to buy the necessities of life and to maintain a decent standard of living. You get money, they would ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Banned by the Green Party leadership: Jill Abigail on women’s rights and trans rights
    The article below was an opinion piece that appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Te Awa (the NZ Green Party’s newsletter) and on the Greens website.  In keeping with their policy of hostility to women defending women’s right to female-only spaces, Green bureaucrats have since removed the opinion piece.  ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The fallacy of the proximity argument.
    Longer term readers may remember my complaining that, as a political scientist, it is burdensome to have non-political scientists wanting to engage me about politics. No layperson would think to approach an astrophysicist and lecture him/her on the finer details of quarks and black holes, but everybody with an opinion ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago
  • Where We Stood: Chris Trotter Replies To Stevan Eldred-Grigg.
    Joining The Fight: Stevan Eldred-Grigg's argument for New Zealand staying out of the Second World War fails not only on the hard-headed grounds of preserving the country’s strategic and economic interests; and not just on the soft-hearted grounds of duty and loyalty to the nation that had given New Zealand ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Universities back the climate strike
    On September 27, School Strike 4 Climate will be striking for a future to pressure the government for meaningful climate action. This time, they've asked adults to join them. And now, Lincoln University and Victoria University of Wellington have signed on:Victoria University of Wellington has joined Lincoln University in endorsing ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Another constitutional outrage
    Another day, another constitutional outrage in the UK. This time, the government is saying that if parliament passes a law to stop Brexit before being prorogued, they may just ignore it:A senior cabinet minister has suggested Boris Johnson could defy legislation to prevent a no-deal Brexit if it is forced ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ending dairy in Canterbury
    Environment Canterbury has finally proposed nitrogen limits to stop dairy farmers from poisoning Christchurch's water supply. And naturally, farmers are whining about it:A proposed move by Environment Canterbury (ECan) to protect Christchurch's drinking water by setting tough – some would say, draconian – nitrate reductions in the decades ahead and ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Is National the party of climate arson?
    The Zero Carbon Bill is currently before select committee. While its targets are weak, its a generally sensible bill that promises to establish a long-term framework to guide emissions reductions. But National hasn't made up its mind on whether it will support it - and according to Andrea Vance in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Experts warn Harold the Giraffe “well past” typical giraffe life expectancy, may not have long
    Dum-de-doo. Children across New Zealand have known him for generations as the lovable giraffe who tells them to exercise, hydrate and not to shove lit cigarettes up their nostrils. But a world renowned giraffe expert says we shouldn’t be getting attached to Life Education’s Harold the Giraffe, as he is ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • August ’19 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
    Image credit: 22 BLOGGERS WITH ADVICE FOR RESEARCHERS AND EVALUATORS, ILLUSTRATED I notice a few regulars no longer allow public access to the site counters. This may happen accidentally when the blog format is altered. If your ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bye, bye to the collusion lie
    Sums it up, really. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Opinion: Treat your car by buying extra petrol to snack on while you aren’t driving
    By Mike Hosking. Yesterday morning, I waltzed into work, and as I walked past the drones aggressively typing out news on the computers I’ve repeatedly asked to be moved further away from, I caught a glimpse of the words “climate change”, and noticed that suspiciously they weren’t in condescending quotation ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • US imperialism, Huawei, racism and imperial anxiety
    by Tony Norfield US political opinion against China has two solid bases. The first is the longstanding racist and protectionist sentiment in the white working class; the second is a more recent anxiety about China’s economic prowess in America’s ruling elite. This article notes some historical aspects of anti-Chinese racism ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago

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