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Hickey on debt

Written By: - Date published: 10:33 am, October 16th, 2016 - 30 comments
Categories: capitalism, debt / deficit, economy - Tags: , ,

Interesting reading from Bernard Hickey in The Herald on Sunday:

Bernard Hickey: Shopping our way into debt

…Treasury published a paper on the rise in New Zealand’s household debt to record high levels relative to income. …

It showed household debt fell relative to incomes for a couple of years after the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 as we pulled our heads in and saved after a shock – but we got back on the spending horse in earnest from 2014 onwards.

Our household debt to income ratio of 165 per cent is now about 5 per cent above those previous highs of 2008 and rising quickly as debt rises around twice as fast as incomes.

That speed of growing indebtedness is not much worse than the bad old days of 2002-07 when New Zealand went on its biggest ever debt-funded spending spree. …

Another crash is coming.

30 comments on “Hickey on debt”

  1. Barfly 1


  2. johnm 2

    Most of this debt will be on madly overpriced wooden living boxes on sections in this speculators’ paradise of capital gain.

    Meanwhile the real people who make a country good can’t buy one of these wooden palaces for their family and must rent from same speculators. Our birthright sold for a bowl of porridge. Oh Yeh do read the FIRE economy.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1



      What we’re seeing here is the decimation of the nation just to enrich the bankers.

    • Adrian Thornton 2.2

      +++ Exactly right, both NZ political parties have encouraged the destruction of the very fabric of our communities by allowing this obscene unfettered speculation on the family home, and the tsunami of cheap slave made consumer products, which has hollowed out local manufacturing.
      Now we are being forced by record low interest rates at the banks to become gamblers instead of savers.
      How about this for a political platform, you are allowed to go to work for 40 hours and earn a good wage for that decent weeks work, you can save some of that money at a fair interest rate, then with the rest of your time you enjoy time with your family, friends hobbies or other interests…..and no Sunday trading.
      Turn Labour Left.

      • Lara 2.2.1

        “Now we are being forced by record low interest rates at the banks to become gamblers instead of savers”

        I absolutely disagree.

        No one is being forced into debt. If you can’t afford it, don’t bloody well buy it.

        That includes owning a home. You’ll have to keep renting.

        And for those who already have their name on the title of an overpriced crappy wooden box in NZ, they’re taking on more debt. No one’s forcing them to put in a new kitchen, or a new bathroom. No one’s forcing them to take an overseas holiday or buy a new BMW with debt on the house.

  3. Paul 3

    Hickey understates the point that debt has wracked up since the 80s because workers wages have flatlined while costs have risen.
    He also understates the role of the media in acting as pimps for companies selling their consumerist garbage.

  4. mosa 4

    When the interest rate climbs and it has to at some point the screams of pain and anguish will be hard to ignore.
    The debt burden of New Zealand puts us as nation at serious risk with high levels domestic and external debt.
    Its been easy so far except those who caught in the cycle of poverty who rely on finance loans charged out at over 20 % with no hope of ever paying down the principle.

    Its one of the many traps of the neo lib economy that while keeping wage and salaries down and costs increasing you make credit easy and interest cheap with the idea the economy is a rockstar and the future is bright so you dont have to worry and more importantly you dont pay off the principle of the debt.

    Its buy now and worry about paying it back in 2019, 2024 or never.

    The banks are in the box seat making millions and when it goes to hell they will simply foreclose on the debt, throwing people out on to the street and that does no faze them one bit just look at America in 2007-2008.

    Its going to be ugly and it could have been preventable given the lessons not learned from the GFC.

    • The New Student 4.1

      The completely unnecessary and preventable NZFC is going to be hella embarrassing

    • Tamati Tautuhi 4.2

      Labour left the country in a good financial position post GFC.

      • David C 4.2.1

        LOL You are just trolling bait there!

        In recession is a good financial position?

        • The recession wasn’t caused by labour, it was a global recession.

          And Bill English admitted the same thing after National took over, that Cullen had left the government in a good fiscal position to tackle the recession.

      • Nic the NZer 4.2.2

        Maybe you should look at the same household debt Hicky is talking about here, pay close attention to the period of the 5th Labour government, 1999 – 2008.

        Note, running a government budget surplus has the consequence that for every doller of surplus, the non-government sector loses exactly a doller of spending power or savings. Looking at the chart above you can probably see where a lot of those dollers funding the surplus came from. De-regulation of the financial sector (the finance company sector was pretty well un-regulated until the GFC) probably also had some impact, but by itself running a surplus starved the non-government sector of sufficient income to compete in the housing market without taking on increasing debt ratios. At the same time the housing market became a contest in the incentives ‘who can take on the largest mortgage’, and ‘get on the ladder before the market gets away’.

        • UncookedSelachimorpha

          Keeping in mind the “non-government sector” is not one amorphous thing. The surplus could be extracted from the very rich, or from beneficiaries and the working poor. The impacts and benefits in society will be very different.

          • Nic the NZer

            I will assume that you are infering Labour do better at fairly extracting the surplus from the economy than National. But considering that the left office with the finance company sector in collapse and rampant property inflation and income inequality. On that basis it doesn’t seem to help much overall.

  5. infused 5

    Oh well. Humans are stupid. We’ve spent these good years paying off debt. Will be debt free by xmas.

    Oh you will say, the poor. Well it’s not just the poor who are racking up debt. Heaps of friends, on good wages are ticking everything up under the sun. It doesn’t make any sense.

  6. Tamati Tautuhi 6

    ..but we are now in surplus after some fine economic management of the economy by John Key and Bill English $1.8 Billion in surplus, doubt whether any other party could have achieved these results after the Global Financial Crisis we have been through.

  7. esoteric pineapples 7

    At the very least, consumer spending on non-essentials is going to decrease. When you have a $300,000 – $500,000 mortgage you are not going to have much spare cash. When so many people have this level of debt this must lead eventually to a recession, which may be being staved off for now with more borrowing.

  8. DRUM 8

    I fully acknowledge I’m a financial illiterate…can any one explain…especially you TT…how a government can claim to be in surplus when the external debt of this country is north of $100B?

    • b waghorn 8.1

      it’s the same as your day to day account being in the black while you have a small $700 k mortgage for your affordable home, you would be in surplus

    • Tamati Tautuhi 8.2

      The current account is in surplus $1.8 billion, which is like your day to day cheque/transaction account analysis at year end, the long term deficit borrowings has gone from $15 billion to $120 billion in the last 8 years, this is like your mortgage going from $150,000 to $1,200,000 over an 8 year period. I was actually being sarcastic but did get the bites I expected?

  9. Tarquin 9

    Seen it all before. In 1997 a mate of mine was offered $300K for his house on the north shore. Ended up selling it 6 months later for $180K. For a couple of years there were people with $300K mortgages living in homes of half that value, it’s called greed and it appears to be cyclical. Nobody is forcing people to borrow money. Hickey has been predicting the sky will fall for years now. He moved to Wellington a couple of years ago because the Auckland market was about to crash, so I’m not to sure his financial advice is that sound, at the very least his timing is well out the window.

    • jcuknz 9.1

      THAT’S RIGHT! Shoot the messenger because you don’t like the message.

      The situation simply shows how irresponsible we are as a nation, lacking in discipline to not follow the consumer offerings…. trouble is if we do not buy our workplace goes bung for lack of customers. This also ignores the high rents needed to pay interest, let alone principle, on the huge loans the banks happily provide.

      • Tarquin 9.1.1

        Pointing out facts is not shooting the messenger.

        • Colonial Viper

          Well, timing the market is always problematic, and in this frothy bubbly market that’s why its called a game of pretend and extend.

    • dv 9.2

      I am working on a sophisticated finical modelling to predict collapse.

      Nearly got it.

      I have called it hindsight.

  10. Greg 10

    The banks have to take some of the blame they pushed debt like a crack dealer.
    It’s going to be painful for a lot of people

  11. Greg 11

    It’s not just the debtors who get hurt it the effect on the wider econemy as consumption crashes it effects jobs savers to allow New Zealand to get to this point is irresponsible we all a hard attitude but that isn’t going to jhelp those loose there homes are going to have to be helped on sounder footing .the current debt driven road Nz will end there is nothing anyone can do to stop a collapse

  12. AsleepWhileWalking 12

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