English & Key cost us another $18mil

Written By: - Date published: 9:59 am, April 22nd, 2010 - 34 comments
Categories: Economy, national, superannuation - Tags:

The other week Vernon Small wrote “the Government has missed out on an extra $1 million a week because of its decision to axe contributions to the Cullen superannuation fund” and said that canceling the Cullen Fund contributions was “a dumb, short-sighted decision that has cost the fund heaps in the long run“.

Hell, don’t worry about the long run just yet, Vernon, it’s been only 8 months. And it’s more than a million a week. Last month we lost $18 million – that’s basically a million a work day.

March was another stellar month for the Fund gaining 4.29%. Even allowing for the cost if we had borrowed the $150 million monthly contributions, the Fund would have been $48 million bigger had the contributions not been canceled. That’s up $18 million from the $30 million that the Government’s stupid, ideologically-driven decision had cost us by February.

What we’re starting to see is compounding losses. National has given up the opportunity to earn returns on returns. So, the cost to the country of John Key and Bill English’s “dumb, short-sighted decision” is accelerating.

Even a drongo in FCom 101 who’s only doing a degree because Daddy expects it could have told you that this would be a great year to invest given the size of the previous down-turn and the hundreds of billions of stimulus poured into economies around the world. It should have been especially obvious since the Cullen Fund had made 10% in the 3 months leading to last year’s budget.

Now, I’m not crazy enough to think this bull-run is going to last forever. In fact, as anyone who is informed about peak oil must be, I’m quite bearish about the long-term; the Cullen Fund has to keep an eye to windward for approaching trouble. But the fact is National is sacrificing a once in a generation chance to buy assets at low prices.

Come on, English, see sense. Restart the contributions before you lose us yet more money and further undermine the future of New Zealand superannuation.

34 comments on “English & Key cost us another $18mil”

  1. There is another feature of the fund which shows why it is so desirable to have.

    Some of the proceeds have ben used to buy investments in New Zealand. The country currently owns pitifully little of itself and a growing super fund would start to correct this.

    We are heavily owned by Australian and Canadian super funds as well as US investors because they have accumulated capital and invested, something that we need to do urgently.

    Otherwise the external flow of dividends each year will only get bigger and the country’s trading deficit will get worse and worse.

  2. todd 2

    Now, I’m not crazy enough to think this bull-run is going to last forever.

    When In your opinion should we pull the funds out then,and for how long,and when do you say that the bull market will take off again(the closest week will be ok).I have several k to invest what should i invest it in and what % do you think I should make.
    PS I always ask my financial advisors how much money THEY have made recently on the market that they tell me to invest in just so i can tell if they are full of shit.

    • Bright Red 2.1

      “When In your opinion should we pull the funds out then,and for how long,and when do you say that the bull market will take off again(the closest week will be ok).I have several k to invest what should i invest it in and what % do you think I should make.”

      Typical smart-arse response from someone who can’t face how badly his party has stuffed up.

      • Craig Glen Eden 2.1.1

        And heres the thing BR, this is what Key is suppose to be good at (Trading Investing) but he obviously isnt that good because he has shares that he cant off load to his son!

        So either the shares are useless ( showing poor judgment on his behalf) or he is bullshitting and the son has not been offered the shares as he states.

        So the questions to smile and wave might look some thing like this , the poor cleaner who you were so concerned about last week who is funding bludging students, what have you done to invest in their retirement fund? Because others like Vernon Small are saying you are costing them retirement savings. Your Governments policy is providing financial drag to the poor cleaner is it not?

  3. Fisiani 3

    Vernon Small ignores the fact that if we had to borrow another say $150 million a month over the $240 million a WEEK that we are currently borrowing then the international credit ratings agencies would obviously have dramatically downgraded NZ. This would have markedly pushed interest rates up completely crippling the economy that Labour had already kneecapped in its spiteful scorched earth economic treachery of its last few years in power, hopefully this century. This would have affected the weakest members of society the most and it is to the credit of Bill English that he truly cares about growing the economy to help the disadvantaged. People know this. Well at least 53% know this…

    • Pascal's bookie 3.1

      prolly he ignores it cause none of it is facts. Much of it is flat out wrong even.

      For example, the only credit rating agency that was worried about us went on the radio on budget day and said his fears were allayed by National backing down from their tax cut policies.

      Also “240Million a week!!!1!” is no longer operative, if it ever was.

    • Bright Red 3.2

      Fisiani. we were never borrowing $240 a week. Net debt has fallen since December. Check it out – http://treasury.govt.nz/government/financialstatements/monthend/pdfs/fsgnz-8mths-feb10.pdf and http://treasury.govt.nz/government/financialstatements/monthend/pdfs/fsgnz-6mths-dec09.pdf

      And, remember, Fisiani our net debt would be lower if we had made this investment. You don’t get a credit downgrade for having lower net debt.

      I doubt any of this will get through to you.

      • sean14 3.2.1

        On page 3 of the first report you link to it says “Net debt has grown $10 billion in the year
        since February 2009.”

        It seems then that the $240M a week claim is indeed wrong, by my calculation it is only $192M a week from Feb ’09 – Feb ’10, but hey, let’s keep borrowing, especially so we can buy shares.

    • SPC 3.3

      Fisiani one would presume – a credit ratings agency would know that money borrowed to invest does not increase our net debt (if the investments gain in value they actually reduce our net debt) – even if you do not.

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    Come on, English, see sense. Restart the contributions before you lose us yet more money and further undermine the future of New Zealand superannuation.

    He and the rest of NACT are out to cost us as much as possible so that we can be moved into debt slavery.

  5. tsmithfield 5

    What is overlooked here is that the returns from the investment are long-term. But the cost of funding the borrowed money is a current expense. That is, there are continuous outgoings that must be budgeted for that are not tied to income due to the fact that the income has been deferred to a long way in the future. Thus, borrowing money to invest in the Cullen fund will likely result in less operations, education and all the other things the left always thinks are grossly underfunded.

    The other point is that the cost of borrowing money to put into the Cullen fund is going to rise considerably given the worldwide sovereign risk situ and the ongoing need for governments to borrow to fund deficits. Given any borrowing will likely need to be rolled over some time in the future, this cost is likely to hit one way or another and could negate any benefits from the Cullen fund.

    • Bright Red 5.1

      ts. you need to learn to read a balance sheet. The Cullen Fund’s assets appear on the government’s books now. Just because they’re not going to be spent now is irrelevant.

      “The other point is that the cost of borrowing money to put into the Cullen fund is going to rise considerably given the worldwide sovereign risk situ and the ongoing need for governments to borrow to fund deficits. Given any borrowing will likely need to be rolled over some time in the future, this cost is likely to hit one way or another and could negate any benefits from the Cullen fund.”

      The Cullen Fund is mandated to beat the long-term cost of borrowing and it’s doing that. Since it started, the cost of borrowing has averaged 6.15% and the Fund has averaged 6.64%. In the last 8 months the cost of borrowing has been 1.99% and the Fund has made 22.27%.

      • tsmithfield 5.1.1

        BR, if a company finances a new vehicle it shows on the balance sheet as an asset as well. The finance still has to be funded and budgeted for out of current income.

        Same with investments borrowed to fund the Cullen fund. We still have to fund the interest bill in the meantime. A NPV calculation would need to be done on the current outgoings to see if there in fact was a profit by the time it could be drawn down.

        • sean14 5.1.1.1

          And at least you can insure the vehicle in case somebody crashes it. What insurance is available for taking the risks associated with investing in shares?

    • SPC 5.2

      Sorry ts, not an adequate argument. The costs of the government holding debt have to be balanced against revenue from the Fund accruing to government. Besides the obvious gains to be made at that time in the economic cycle made such an issue too minor to be relevant then. They are now, but as said there are revenues accruing to government from the Fund (which only grow as the Fund does, which cover that holding cost on some of the investment in the Fund).

  6. infused 6

    Glad Labout isn’t in power.

  7. burt 7

    National better hurry up and buy all the top end real estate that has dropped in price recently so it can sell it again in 2-5 years to make billions or I’ll be reading from Vernon Small and The Standard that National cost the country billions by not borrowing to invest for greater gains.

    This is small minded drivel from a lack luster journalist. Since when was borrowing to invest a prudent thing to do when unemployment was predicted to rise for a few more years and deficits were predicted for a decade. I get that an opportunity was missed and I also get that hindsight is a wonderful thing. I surprised that you, Marty G., have forgotten that Dr. Cullen himself said when introducing the Cullen fund that the way it was set up contributions could be suspended in rough economic times. It was a feature of the fund legislation explicitly designed to allow for extreme poor management events like being stagnant and in recession compounded by a global crisis.

    • Marty G 7.1

      “Dr. Cullen himself said when introducing the Cullen fund that the way it was set up contributions could be suspended in rough economic times”

      Cullen didn’t support stopping the payments last year. And since a) net debt is falling and b) if we had kept making the payments net debt would be even lower I don’t see what the problem is.

      “It was a feature of the fund legislation explicitly designed to allow for extreme poor management”

      It’s that kind of dumbarse crap that makes you like fish in a barrel, burt. The fund outperformed the market during the worst financial crisis in 50 years and it has outperformed it going back up again.

  8. burt 8

    Cullen didn’t support stopping the payments last year.

    He was big and brave like that about tax cuts he didn’t make himself as well.

    The fund outperformed the market during the worst financial crisis in 50 years

    I mentioned hindsight before, have you seen this reference? <a href="Hindsight bias.

    Look if it so sure that the Cullen fund was going to outperform borrowing then why the hell was Cullen paying off debt?

    • r0b 8.1

      Get yourself a calendar Burt, and see if you can work it out all by yourself.

      • burt 8.1.1

        rOb

        Calendar No need for a calendar if I can just borrow the time machine Vernon & Marty G clearly have.

        I can imagine Vernon & Marty G at a casino; standing by the roulette wheel they would be shouting at people that they are losers for not backing the number that just came up cheered on by you simply because you don’t like the people they are shouting at.

        • Armchair Critic 8.1.1.1

          False analogy, burt. Roulette wheels are (nominally) random and used in games of chance. Changes to the economy are not random. Hence the plethora of univeristy courses, books, businesses reports on the news etc. about the economy, and a corresponding lack anything similar for results at the casino.

        • burt 8.1.1.2

          Armchair Critic

          I was unaware there was zero risk with the Cullen fund and that there was zero chance of it loosing value. I’m wondering why when there was a rock solid guarantees that it would grow at a rate that exceeds the cost of borrowing that Cullen paid down debt rather than invest into the Cullen fund?

          National must be completely stupid to not use the guaranteed growth available from the fund, hell they should have strongly increased borrowing the moment they got into office because clearly Cullen made a major mistake not putting all his eggs into one guaranteed basket during the last few years of Labour prudent management.

          • Armchair Critic 8.1.1.2.1

            Sarcasm, the lowest form of wit.

          • burt 8.1.1.2.2

            I had to do something to match your being in denial about the risks of investing.

            • Armchair Critic 8.1.1.2.2.1

              Just like I had to point out that you seem to be confusing gambling and investing. Not an easy mistake to make.
              Not sure where you found me being in denial about the risks of investing – I sure can’t see where I did that.

            • burt 8.1.1.2.2.2

              But you have no answer to why Cullen paid off debt rather than just invested into a “sure thing” ? If you can bag National for not borrowing to invest then it follows that Cullen should not have paid off debt – yes/no ?

              • Armchair Critic

                No burt, I was commenting solely on your false analogy, not on what I think Ministers of Finance, past or present, should or should not have done.

              • burt

                Only interested in the messenger. Do you have an opinion on borrowing to invest or do you only have an opinion on my opinions?

              • Armchair Critic

                “Only interested in the messenger.”
                Who, me? I called you on your false analogy, which did a reasonable job of ruining your argument without any assistance from me.
                “Do you have an opinion on borrowing to invest…”
                Yeah, I do. I’m not confident you will agree with it, and your apparent lack of ability to comprehend the difference between investing and gambling makes me wonder whether you will understand it. Also, I sincerely hope you have better things to do on Friday night.
                However – I support borrowing to invest, to the extent that I do it myself, at times along with repaying debt at the same time. Have done for years, plan on keeping doing so. Extrapolating that, I’m happy for the government to act in a similar manner, whichever party is in power.

  9. burt 9

    Sorry I stuffed up that link;

    Hindsight Bias

  10. SPC 10

    Just more evidence that this government is not making wise investment decisions.

  11. tsmithfield 11

    Now here is a question for lefties who support the idea of borrowing to invest.

    If investing in the markets gets such a higher return, then why don’t those who would lend money to NZ just go and invest the money directly in the markets themselves rather than lend to NZ at a lower rate?

    • burt 11.1

      That’s an easy one to answer – Other finance ministers/bankers don’t only use ideology as the basis for their investment decisions.

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