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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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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New Armoured vehicles for New Zealand Army
    The Coalition Government has approved the purchase of a fleet of Bushmaster vehicles to replace the New Zealand Army’s armoured Pinzgauers, Defence Minister Ron Mark has announced today. The new fleet of 43 Australian-designed and built Bushmaster NZ5.5 will provide better protection for personnel and improved carrying capacity. “The age ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Community-led solutions to prevent family violence
    The Government’s three prevention frameworks to reduce family violence in Aotearoa were launched this week by Associate Minister for Social Development Poto Williams.   The frameworks were developed in partnership with communities around New Zealand, and build on the work the Government has already begun with its new family violence prevention ...
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    4 days ago
  • Govt confirms investment in better radiology and surgical services for Hawke’s Bay
    The Government is pleased to confirm funding for improvements to radiology and surgical services at Hawke's Bay DHB, Health Minister Chris Hipkins says.     "The Minister of Finance the Hon Grant Robertson and former Health Minister Dr David Clark approved funding for Hawke's Bay DHB’s redevelopment of their radiology facilities ...
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    4 days ago
  • Specialist alcohol and drug addiction services strengthened across New Zealand
    •    New funding for four beds at Napier’s Springhill Residential Addiction Centre •    A new managed withdrawal home and community service, and peer support before and after residential care at Tairāwhiti DHB  •    A co-ordinated network of withdrawal management services throughout the South Island •    Peer support in Rotorua and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Coastal Shipping Webinar
    Introduction, seafarers and POAL Good morning everyone, I am delighted to be online with you all today. Before I begin, I have to acknowledge that COVID-19 has disrupted the maritime sector on an unprecedented scale. The work of seafarers and the maritime industry is keeping many economies around the world ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Support for resilient rail connection to the West Coast
    A $13 million investment from Government will create jobs and improve the resilience of the rail connection between Christchurch and the West Coast, Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones and Regional Economic Development Under-Secretary Fletcher Tabuteau say. The funding comes from the tagged contingency set aside in Budget 2020 for infrastructure projects ...
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    4 days ago
  • Major investment in safe drinking water
    The Government is investing $761 million to assist local government upgrade under-pressure water services across the country, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today.  The announcement was made at the site of the water bore that was found to be the source of the fatal ...
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    4 days ago
  • Supporting stranded seasonal workers to keep working with more flexible options
    Recognised Seasonal Employers and migrant seasonal workers stranded in New Zealand will be able to continue working and supporting themselves with more flexible hours and roles, says Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway. The time-limited visa changes are: Stranded RSE workers will be able to work part-time (a minimum of 15 hours ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Relief for temporary migrants, employers and New Zealanders who need work
    The Government is making immediate short-term changes to visa settings to support temporary migrants already onshore in New Zealand and their employers, while also ensuring New Zealanders needing work are prioritised, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says. We are: Extending temporary work visas due to expire by the end of 2020 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Freshwater commissioners and fast-track consenting convenor appointed
    Professor Peter Skelton CNZM has been appointed as Chief Freshwater Commissioner and Alternate Environment Court Judge Craig James Thompson as Deputy Chief Freshwater Commissioner for the newly established Freshwater Planning Process (FPP). Environment Minister David Parker today also announced the appointment of Chief Environment Court Judge Laurie Newhook as the ...
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    5 days ago
  • Appointment of Judge of the High Court
    Auckland Queen’s Counsel Neil Campbell has been appointed a Judge of the High Court, Attorney‑General David Parker announced today. Justice Campbell graduated with a BCom and LLB (Hons) from the University of Auckland in 1992. He spent two years with Bell Gully Buddle Weir in Auckland before travelling to the United ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Feedback sought – Commercial Film and Video Production Facilities
    The Associate Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Poto Williams, is seeking feedback on a proposal to better enable the development and operation of commercial film and video facilities in Christchurch. The Proposal, developed by Regenerate Christchurch in response to a request from Christchurch City Council, asks that powers under section ...
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    5 days ago
  • Govt launches bold primary sector plan to boost economic recovery
    The Government has launched a bold plan to boost primary sector export earnings by $44 billion over the next decade, while protecting the environment and growing jobs. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today released Fit for a Better World – Accelerating our Economic Potential, a 10-year roadmap to unlock greater value ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Wellbeing of whanau at heart of new hub
    A new approach to prevent family harm that encourages greater collaboration across government and community groups is being celebrated at the opening of a new facility in Auckland. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today opened the Multi-Disciplinary Family Harm Prevention Hub Te Taanga Manawa in Lambie Road in Manukau. The facility ...
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    5 days ago
  • New Report on Auckland Port Relocation
    The Government has released a major new report on the options for relocating the Port of Auckland’s freight operations while deferring any decision on the issue. “That decision needs to be informed by policy analysis that is still to be completed. As a result it will be up to a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Dual place names for Te Pātaka-o-Rākaihautū / Banks Peninsula features
    The history of Rāpaki is being restored through the inclusion of te reo in thirteen official place names on Te Pātaka-o-Rākaihautū / Banks Peninsula and around Lyttelton Harbour/Whakaraupō, the Minister for Land Information, Eugenie Sage, announced today.   “I am pleased to approve the proposals from Te Hapū o Ngāti ...
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    5 days ago
  • Government and Air New Zealand agree to manage incoming bookings
    Bookings for seats on Air New Zealand flights into New Zealand will be managed in the short term to ensure the Government is able to safely place New Zealanders arriving home into a managed isolation or quarantine facility, says Housing Minister Megan Woods.  “Last week Air Commodore Darryn Webb and I ...
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    5 days ago
  • $80 million for sport recovery at all levels
    Grant Robertson has today announced the first major release of funding from the $265 million Sport Recovery Package announced at Budget 2020.  “Today we’re setting out how $80 million will be invested, with $54 million of that over the 2020/2021 financial year for organisations from community level through to elite ...
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    5 days ago
  • Keeping ACC levies steady until 2022
    The Government is maintaining current levy rates for the next 2 years, as part of a set of changes to help ease the financial pressures of COVID-19 providing certainty for businesses and New Zealanders, ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says. “New Zealanders and businesses are facing unprecedented financial pressures as a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Extended loan scheme keeps business afloat
    Small businesses are getting greater certainty about access to finance with an extension to the interest-free cashflow loan scheme to the end of the year. The Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme has already been extended once, to 24 July. Revenue and Small Business Minister Stuart Nash says it will be ...
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    1 week ago
  • New investment creates over 2000 jobs to clean up waterways
    A package of 23 projects across the country will clean up waterways and deliver over 2000 jobs Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Environment Minister David Parker announced today. The $162 million dollar package will see 22 water clean-up projects put forward by local councils receiving $62 million and the Kaipara ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Speech to Labour Party Congress 2020
    Tena koutou katoa  Nga tangata whenua o tenei rohe o Pōneke, tena koutou Nau mai, haere mai ki te hui a tau mo te roopu reipa Ko tatou!  Ko to tatou mana!  Ko to tatou kaupapa kei te kokiri whakamua  Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa   Welcome. I ...
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    1 week ago
  • PGF top-up for QE Health in Rotorua
    The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing $1.5 million to ensure QE Health in Rotorua can proceed with its world class health service and save 75 existing jobs, Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau announced today. The PGF funding announced today is in addition to the $8 million ...
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    1 week ago
  • Building a more sustainable construction sector
    A new programme, which sets a firm course for the Building and Construction sector to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, has been announced by the Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa. “A significant amount of New Zealand’s carbon emissions come from the building and construction sector.  If we’re serious ...
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    1 week ago