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Hickey sees the light

Written By: - Date published: 12:49 pm, September 29th, 2010 - 73 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, Economy, equality, overseas investment, socialism - Tags: ,

Bernard Hickey has become one of the country’s leading economic commentators, arguing from a position of the hardline neo-liberals – ie. the market is god. Now, he’s changed his mind. He’s come to the realisation that there’s no invisible god’s hand directing capitalist markets. Instead they are directed by short-termist elites. We need to take back control.

It’s time for me to recant and to say what I’ve been thinking for months: the economic god of completely free markets and capital flows is not worth believing in anymore and we must look for other things to believe in and do. I think New Zealand needs to have a debate about capital controls, about foreign ownership of assets, about measures to control our currency and about being openly nationalistic rather than internationalistic about our economic policy.

The neoliberal model introduced by the First ACT Government, further entrenched by National in the 1990s and largely left in place by the Fifth Labour Government has been nothing but a generation-long wealth grab by the elite.

In the end, our economic growth has suffered, our wages have suffered, and our work conditions and job options have suffered. Our national debt has spiralled while we’ve become ever more dependent on imports, while our economy has become effectively foreign-owned with around 7% of GDP heading overseas as profits. The neoliberal heroes failed to invest in this country. Instead, they sold off everything they can and made off with the loot.

“I think we need to rethink the way we run monetary policy, the way we allow foreign ownership of assets, the way we encourage savings, the way our financial institutions are regulated and change the things we are aiming for.”

We need to stop seeing ‘growth’ as an end in itself and realise that successful societies are fair and equal societies.

“We should debate more specific controls on who owns what assets, whether monetary policy should still use the Official Cash Rate to focus on inflation alone, and whether banks should still be free to lend however much they want to whomever they want.”

It’s about taking back the leadership of the economy. Putting it in accountable public institutions, rather than self-interested, unelected elites.

The ‘Great Moderation’ was actually a Great Fraud perpetuated by financial engineers in Manhattan and London who targetted massive short term bonuses by creating financial instruments that gave the appearance of reducing risk, but actually massively increased risk.

These investment bankers exploited all sorts of holes in financial regulations and in the way pension funds are allocated to enrich themselves at the expenses of middle and under classes in developed countries. The created a long term mess for short term gain. They privatised profits for themselves and socialised the losses for us all.

They worked in tandem with the managers of often publicly listed multinational corporates who specialised their operations in different countries, often moving manufacturing and services to lower wage economies in an endless hunt to lower costs and increase profits (often for their own personal benefit).

This seemed like a good idea at the time and even seemed noble, spreading the wealth around. But all it did was reduce real wages for the middle and under classes in developed economies, who then promptly borrowed more to keep spending as if they were richer. It was a recipe for instability.

All this debt-fueled consumption growth in the developed world that was funded and supplied by savings and production surpluses in the developing world.

It could not last. Like any Ponzi scheme, eventually the debt keeps rising until the interest bill overwhelms the ability of the borrower to pay.

And the Great Recession is more of the same. The elites are still getting wealthier, taking from the rest of us. Tomorrow’s tax swindle is just another example.

“Now investors are rightly worried that governments may not be able to afford the extra debt taken on to keep their economies pumped up after September 2008 and the toxic debt they took on that the banks couldn’t handle.

The financial systems in many of these economies remain broken, but more importantly, households know they have too much debt already and won’t borrow more to spend like they were. The great de-leveraging has begun and nothing can stop it.

So the tide really is going out and now we’re discovering the underlying structure of the global economy is flawed.”

Underlying the human artifice of the economy is the real world. We have been ignoring the value of that real world for far too long and, as a result, exploiting and damaging it. Consequences in the form of peak oil and climate change are about to it us.

Emerging economies such as China want to industrialise in a mercantilist way, holding down their currencies to subsidise producers at the expense of consumers.

The global economy is now dependent on production and saving in one or two parts of the world, China and Germany, offset by consuming and borrowing in other parts of the world, America, Britain, Southern Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

This is fine as long as the savers have somewhere safe to put their capital surpluses and the borrowers can keep borrowing. But it all ends when borrowers run out of borrowing capacity and the savers lose faith in the paper they’re exchanging for the product they’re producing.

We need to realise that sometimes the system doesn’t work. We need to have something in reserve.

We need to accept that a completely free and unfettered system of global muilti-national capitalism driven by an elite of CEOs and investment bankers will inevitably blow itself up in a frenzy of borrowing, bonuses, short term thinking and self interest.

That’s the kind of thinking that would get you burned at the stake in commercial circles in this country. Which tells us about another underlying problem – the poor intellectual quality of our economic leaders.

“We increased our foreign debt by NZ$97.5 billion inside the last six years, but all that happened is our per capita GDP actually fell over that period.

We borrowed from the free and easy and low interest rate global capital flows to pump up asset prices and go on a spending spree. All we have left for it now is some leaky homes, a big debt and a hollowed out workforce.”

Borrowing has its place, if it is being used to fund investment for the future. But that kind of planning simply isn’t part of the neo-liberal mindset. Instead, the easy money was borrowed to buy more imported consumer goods. Lack of controls on borrowing resulted in us hollowing out our own manufacturing and importing too much instead. It’s similar to what happened to Spain when it was awash with plundered South American gold. The difference is, we have to pay back the money.

“We need to recognise that in a world of competitive devaluations, growing trade tensions and nakedly selfish vested interests (governments, multinationals and global investment banks) that we have to defend ourselves and be just as nakedly nationalistic.

We have to assume, just as Marx pointed out, that free markets will eventually overheat and blow up if we allow them free rein.

Income needs to be redistributed to offset the concentration of wealth that naturally occurs in such a globalised, free flowing world of capital. Ownership of assets needs to be monitored and controlled. The growth of foreign debt needs to be restricted.

Consumers and bankers need to be saved from themselves.

That is what I think we’re starting to see filter through to our politicians from the grass roots upwards.”

In the end, New Zealand is an interdependent society and economy, and no-one will look out for us but ourselves. Simply letting ourselves be a cork on the stormy ocean of the world economy, or a minnow in a sea full of sharks, is not sensible.

“the inevitable result of these dislocations of capital and the means of production, along with competitive devaluations, is a global land grab for hard assets such as arable land, mines and technology. Bits of paper don’t cut it anymore. No wonder the price of gold hit a record US$1,300/oz overnight.

No wonder the Chinese want to buy our dairy producing land and factories. Or the mines in Australia.”

I can’t understand why selling our assets would ever be seen as a good idea. Especially strategic assets that we can’t afford to lose. We just end up paying profits that disappear offshore and the owners under-invest knowing that the country can’t afford to not bail them out.

“China likes free trade because it wants to build factories and sell stuff to the rest of the world. It wants to own assets in other countries that can provide it with the raw materials and food it needs to keep that export machine going and employing workers from the countryside.

But China will not allow others to buy those assets in its country. It is point blank refusing to allow its yuan to appreciate quickly versus the US dollar.

US politicians, under pressure from voters, are revolting against the multi-national free trading system in a messy way, looking to impose tariffs. The Tea Party movement, however flawed, is a reaction to the failure of this global system and the way it has been distorted by vested interests to transfer wealth from the middle classes to the richest Manhattanites.

America is trying to devalue and print its way out from under its debt. Europe will eventually have to do the same, if only to stop its single currency from exploding from within. China will not stop and Japan is about to announce a massive new stimulus in the wake of its second currency intervention inside a week.

Brazil has declared it is engaged in a currency war to try to stop its currency from rising.

Brazil, like Australia and New Zealand, has a freeish floating currency that is rising as others try to devalue and buy into countries with hard rather than paper assets.”

This is a world where direct ownership of real wealth-producing assets like farms and mineral deposits is once again going to be of prime importance. We need to hold on to ours.

“The government could consider limits on foreign ownership of major assets and restrictions on profit repatriation.

Savings into New Zealand KiwiSaver funds and the New Zealand Superannuation funds could be directed into New Zealand investments.”

We need to build a national wealth fund with money from Kiwisaver, the Cullen Fund, private contributions via Kiwibank, and oil and mineral royalties. That fund should be given a mandate to invest in assets of strategic importance to the New Zealand economy here and abroad. And we must nationalise any exploitation of our oil and mineral reserves, rather than let that one-off wealth endowment flow overseas.

“Much more could be done to protect ourselves and reduce the possible damage from future booms and busts.”

If the post-war period was define by historically long and rapid periods of growth and relatively shallow recessions, the coming decades will be marked by boom and bust caused by oil shocks and environmental havoc. We need to start work now to protect our economy and our society.

73 comments on “Hickey sees the light ”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    I don’t think Bernard typed that out over a beer last night. He’s been thinking about this stuff for a while by the looks of it. He no doubt knows that he is going to suffer some repercussions from the Right over this, but he did it anyway. Good on him, good on the NZ Herald, and good on you Marty for pushing this out there. Let’s see who in parliament has the guts to follow this up.

  2. just saying 2

    If the weight of evidence can change Hickey’s mind, why can’t Labour’s front bench be similarly moved?

    • Lanthanide 2.1

      Because the ideas Hickey is espousing are too complicated for the general population to understand, and too difficult for Labour to sell to them.

      • Vicky32 2.1.1

        You have very little in the way of faith in the general population! I know the 20-somethings seem to be seriously stupid compared to their parents, and even more so, their grand-parents, but even so!
        Deb

        • tea 2.1.1.1

          Perhaps not too stupid to pay for your reitrements and healthcare! I presume you’re not a 20 something I take it?

          We never f*n voted for Muldoon or Labour in the 80s twice!!

    • Bored 2.2

      Just imagine Labour’s front bench mindset over the years… 1913 Marx’s relations to production, dialectic materialism….1938 the Keynesian accomodation, Christian “socialism”, the Welfare State….1984 Friedmanite free market fundamentalism, Hayeks anti socialism….2010 ???????? I dread to think what next.

    • The Chairman 2.3

      We’ve just had Cunliffe’s Systemic Market Failure and now Bernard’s recant. Is this the beginning of a new groundswell for change?

  3. toad 3

    Strike me down with a feather! I’ve always thought Hickey was one of those so entrenched in his neo-liberal mindset that he’s never come to a realisation like that.

    Maybe I should send Don Brash a Green Party membership application form.

    BTW, liked the reference to 1984-90 as the “First ACT Government” Marty.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      I’ve always thought Hickey was one of those so entrenched in his neo-liberal mindset that he’s never come to a realisation like that.

      I always thought his writing was reasonably astute and was somewhat surprised that he hadn’t come over sooner. The flaws in the neo-liberal paradigm, that’s taught as Gospel in universities, are glaringly obvious when you actually think about it.

      Maybe I should send Don Brash a Green Party membership application form.

      I LOL’d 😀

      Now that is a leopard that can’t change it’s spots.

  4. jacinda 4

    Excuse me for nit picking, but how are the tax cuts taking from the “rest of us?”

    The tax cuts are the government taking less from everyone, which seems fair, as people get to keep the money they worked hard for?

    So, me getting more of my tax back from now on, is actually me taking from other people?

    • Blighty 4.1

      where’s the moeny for the tax cuts coming from?

      a) GST increase

      b) borrowing increase

      so, your tax cut will be paid for by others servicing the debt long after you’re gone.

      and every dollar in tax cuts is a dollar that can’t be spent on education and health.

      • Craig Glen Eden 4.1.1

        jacindas joking right? Please oh please don’t tell me she actually believes that the money is hers.

        • felix 4.1.1.1

          No, she doesn’t believe it. She’s a troll who has been posting more or less the same thing under several names all around the place very recently.

  5. jimmy 5

    Bernard just made my day. I bet BNZ are taking a close look at their sponsorship contract right now.

  6. prism 6

    Just pondering after reading the line ‘there’s no invisible god’s hand directing capitalist markets. Instead they are directed by short-termist elites.’ Word play – swop letters and they morph into short-termites elites. And it seems as if Labour is being undermined and decimated from within.

    Is it middle-classism, where its more important to have matching curtains in coffee latte colour, than spend time thinking and talking about what is the new vision of a decent, prosperous society (or was that Jim Bolger who ended up saying that?).

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    The difference is, we have to pay back the money.

    Actually, no we don’t.

    When someone loans someone else money, even if the “someone” is a country*, they’re taking the risk that they aren’t going to get it back.

    * Of course, a country should never be borrowing anyway – they have no need to do so and can print the money without interest as a sovereign right. The idea that a country needs to borrow at interest from the banks originates with the bankers. They didn’t come up with that idea with the countries interest at heart.

    We have to assume, just as Marx pointed out, that free markets will eventually overheat and blow up if we allow them free rein.

    We don’t have to assume that as it’s been proven quite conclusively over the last few centuries. The latest proof is the current GFC.

    In the end, New Zealand is an interdependent society and economy, and no-one will look out for us but ourselves. Simply letting ourselves be a cork on the stormy ocean of the world economy, or a minnow in a sea full of sharks, is not sensible.

    Wholeheartedly agree and it comes back to what I keep saying: We can produce everything we need right here from our own resources. If we do that and put proper restrictions on ownership and income then the amount we have to work and produce will decrease. We could even become a sustainable society which is impossible under the neo-liberal/capitalist paradigm.

    That fund should be given a mandate to invest in assets of strategic importance to the New Zealand economy here and abroad.

    As much as I agree with a sovereign wealth fun it cannot invest abroad. If foreign investment is bad for us, which it is, then it is also bad for every other country as well. We need to stop such foreign investment not propagate more of it.

    …the coming decades will be marked by boom and bust caused by oil shocks and environmental havoc. We need to start work now to protect our economy and our society.

    And we do that by ensuring that we can produce everything that we need*. We don’t have to make a profit from it. In fact, that’s a bad idea as profit is a deadweight loss.

    * Note the word “need” not “want”. We need healthy food we don’t specifically need bananas.

    • The Baron 7.1

      Banning bananas now Draco. Awesome.

      You know what happens when Govts print money, right? You know what inflation is, right?

      In other words, you realise how incredibly nuts you sound, right?

      • Zaphod Beeblebrox 7.1.1

        But we are in a huge deflationary cycle- in the US interest rates are close to zero, even though they are issuing bonds like crazy. Why would you assume one will follow the other at the moment.

        • comedy 7.1.1.1

          because the USD is the world’s default currency (for another wee while anyway).

          We are a piffling little backwater currency which if we decided to print until the presses started glowing would turn to cak in a pretty short time frame.

      • Draco T Bastard 7.1.2

        Normal RWNJ over-reaction and over-simplification (proving, once again, that the average RWNJ is brain dead). It should have been obvious, even to the brain dead, that I was using bananas as an example and that I didn’t mention banning imports or exports. I was saying that we need to become self-sufficient so that we don’t depend upon them.

        BTW, governments printing money isn’t a problem as long as it’s balanced by the taxes to take it back out.

        • The Baron 7.1.2.1

          Ok, you have to provide some sort of theory to back up this madness. Where does your assertion that “it isn’t a problem” come from – any sort of economic orthodoxy, from any side? Anyone with any academic credentials at all?

          See I’ve been playing around in economics for a while, and that to me sounds almost like Social Credit, ala funny money, to me.

          So please, educate me – where are the texts on this long forgotten strand of “have your cake and eat it too” economic isolationism?

          • Colonial Viper 7.1.2.1.1

            Ok, you have to provide some sort of theory to back up this madness. Where does your assertion that “it isn’t a problem” come from – any sort of economic orthodoxy, from any side? Anyone with any academic credentials at all?

            You have got to be kidding me. Its the academic discipline of Economics* which is responsible for the mess we are in and you are still kotowing to their “knowledge”???

            *Thinking here of the Freidmanites, the Austrian school, the ‘Freshwater’ schools of economics

            Gawd some people are gluttons for punishment.

            I back DTB on his call for the Govt to issue its own legal tender – exactly as the US did with the original greenbacks – completely independent of the damned banking interests.

            As for inflation fears –

            a) inflation is not the problem we are facing in the western world, deflation is.
            b) you are putting dollars into circulation anyway so why don’t you do it free of the interest charges the banking system charges the country.

          • Colonial Viper 7.1.2.1.2

            See I’ve been playing around in economics for a while, and that to me sounds almost like Social Credit, ala funny money, to me.

            You kill me, ‘funny money’ huh?

            What do you think the banks produce if it is not ‘funny money’ when they take $1000 worth of Government supplied $, and loan it out multiple times to produce $20,000 worth of credit money in the system, out of thin air? (via the fractional reserve banking system)

            That’s ‘funny money’ right there, and no wonder (as Hickey points out) the Chinese as eager to trade that worthless script in for real tangible commercial resources, land and materials.

          • Draco T Bastard 7.1.2.1.3

            Where does your assertion that “it isn’t a problem” come from – any sort of economic orthodoxy, from any side?

            Actually it comes from the same theory that allows banks to print money out of thin air. i.e. Banks loan money into circulation and that money is then removed from circulation when it’s paid back. It just doesn’t have the delusion that interest can be charged on it because it can’t. What the private banks do is a Ponzi Scheme.

            • The Baron 7.1.2.1.3.1

              We’ve all probably moved on, but shall I assume from this that this is all just mad ranting then, and that no credible economist (and no, they don’t need to be from any particular school Viper – they just need to have some credibility – economics is not monopolised by the right) has ever backed these insane ideas.

              The only country that I can think of that has followed this path is Zimbabwe. How did that work out again?

              Draco, surely you realise that if your particular prescription for the world’s/society’s/economy’s woes is a good one, that someone other than a psuedo-anonymous ranter on a left wing blog site at the ass end of the world would have written about it? And that there would be some authorative source material to back up the theory and its benefits?

              Otherwise, I’ll just assume that it is you who is frankly a nut job and move on…

              • Draco T Bastard

                Ben Bernanke does. In fact, every single damn neo-liberal economist does. They all support the fractional reserve banking system which is exactly the same theory as I pointed out. All I’ve done is remove the private profit of unsustainable interest charges from it and make it so that government prints the money instead. The money is printed into circulation and then paid back.

                • The Baron

                  Righto, but none of them has said that that model will work on the basis of a Government using its printing presses to substitute for private banking and fractional reserves?

                  So, you have no sources? Just sources through extrapolation, without anybody else agreeing that such extrapolation is viable, sensible, possible, or logical?

                  So, this is all just your insane ideas?

                  Good to conclude – thanks.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    According to you, the present system of creating money is an insane idea. As you support it this would indicate that you’re insane.

      • tea 7.1.3

        thought we were at one point there? Has no one been reading the amazing words of Alan Bollard in biography form??

    • comedy 7.2

      “We don’t specifically need bananas”…… comedy gold

      I don’t think we need nuts, fruitcakes or crackers either come to think of it.

      • The Baron 7.2.1

        Oh yes, I can’t wait for the day when Chairman Draco declares exactly what everyone in our society wants “needs”.

        First on the list – no more bananas!

        What else is on the list Draco? God, I’m salivating – what a paradise!

        • mcflock 7.2.1.1

          Baron & Comedy:

          The common ground between Draco’s comment and your responses is also descriptive of your responses. It is the word “bananas”.

        • Aron Watson 7.2.1.2

          Post made perfect sense to me. But hey, let’s pick on the word fruit then shell we…..go figure. The words RWNJ fruityloop come to mind though.

      • Draco T Bastard 7.2.2

        So when are you leaving then?

  8. tc 8

    ‘Zietgesit addendum’ makes for interesting viewing around some of the points Hickey raises.

    The worms turned as those who considered themselves informed and ahead of the curve have been brought crashing back to reality by the GFC and all the abhorrent practices it exposed as stock in trade by the shonksters.

    Any monkey can make money in a rising market….what happens when it stops rising and probably will never rise as it did before again when you want a rainy day fund……mmmm kiwisaver/superannuation (compulsory since 87 in oz) maybe…crazy talk in the NACT world.

  9. insider 9

    Bernard is obviously a smart guy, and these things should be constantly debated but remember he is just a journalist expressing an opinion. And his opinions have been wrong in the past particularly those on property prices, which is an area he has specialised in more than international trade and economic policies. So I wouldn’t get too excited…

    • Bright Red 9.1

      so, what in particular that Hickey and Marty have said are you disagreeing with?

      • insider 9.1.1

        Well starting at the first line:

        Bernard Hickey has become one of the country’s leading economic commentators, arguing from a position of the hardline neo-liberals – ie. the market is god.

        I’d say he is a prominent journalist who puts himself around and has opinions, but don’t think that makes him more credible than others who get less airtime. I’m just a bit suspect about the weight other journalists give to journalist ‘expert’ commentators. And I don’t think he has ever been a hardline neo-liberal.

        • Blighty 9.1.1.1

          stop beating round the bush old boy. Do you have any substantive disagreements about what Hickey and Marty have to say about the economy and the solutions?

          arguing the toss about Hickey’s bona fides is neither here nor there.

          • insider 9.1.1.1.1

            Well given that Marty is using BH’s conversion as a confirmation that the old gods are dead, BH’s qualifications are entirely relevant. So if your premise is flawed, most of your argument that flows will be too.

            In short I would tend to disagree that fortress NZ is the best way forward. High levels of inward investment to me are a sign of a very healthy economy that outside investors are competing to have a piece of because they see growing returns that we are rich enough to sustain. I’d expect that would be on the back of a healthy level of export and overseas investment driven wealth.

            Conversely, while Marty and BH may celebrate companies like Shell selling up and moving out as a great leap forward in economic sovereignty, I see the sad loss of global discipline and experience that a multinational can bring to a country and the opportunities that provides for local employees.

            What that means is we need greater opportunities to trade not fewer, and that trade needs to go both ways and across the economy. And I think history is more on the side of freer trade than restricted.

            • Blighty 9.1.1.1.1.1

              we have growing levels of debt/investment because we have to finance all the income from that debt/investment.

              the ‘investment’ we’re talking about is not, by and large, foreign companies cueing up to buy kiwi success stories. It’s people loaning us money so we can sell each other houses at over-inflated prices.

              If it were Kiwi success stories being sold overseas, you would have to question why we are selling.

              hickey is writing about restricting capital flows – like the wave of cheap credit that financed the housing bubble. Not trade restrictions.

              • insider

                Hickey and Marty are talking about far more than that. “I think New Zealand needs to have a debate about capital controls, about foreign ownership of assets, about measures to control our currency and about being openly nationalistic rather than internationalistic about our economic policy.”

                Buying and selling of businesses is a form of trade IMO, that’s why I said “trade needs to go both ways and across the economy”.

                Why would anyone sell a successful business? Range of reasons that are true for domestic and international businesses: lack of energy, pride in building something bigger, cashing in, realisation that the business needs wider help to survive, looking for a new challenge.

                Being successful now is not a guarantee of success forever. I’ve worked for successful companies that will never be more successful because of the failure of the owners to let go. While others are able to recognise that they are great building a business to size ‘x’ but to get to y and z requires a different skill set, and the cost of that may be to sell it.

                I think it would be brilliant if NZ is continuously generating a series of businesses that people are lining up to buy. I’d more more worried if there were no line.

                • Blighty

                  but, dear imbecile, we are not selling successful companies. We are borrowing for home and farm loans.

                  And, again, what you’re pointing to are calls for capital controls, not trade controls.

                  it’s about not undermining the viability of our economy by not making it vulnerable to external financial shocks by not selling our strategic assets and nor getting up to our nostrils in debt.

                  it’s not about putting tariffs or limits on trade.

                  you do understand the difference, yes?

                  • insider

                    Well if your response to people who have the temerity to disagree with you is just to resort to patronising smugness, I’ll leave you to play alone in your capital flow controlled fortress Blighty.

            • Colonial Viper 9.1.1.1.1.2

              Well given that Marty is using BH’s conversion as a confirmation that the old gods are dead, BH’s qualifications are entirely relevant. So if your premise is flawed, most of your argument that flows will be too.

              The old gods of the free market are not dead, they were never there.

              Big difference. To continue the metaphor, false mistaken idols have been the target of reverence by the discipline of economics, and all the governments of the world sucked in by it, albeit not too subtly encouraged by multinational corporate interests.

            • Draco T Bastard 9.1.1.1.1.3

              I see the sad loss of global discipline and experience that a multinational can bring to a country and the opportunities that provides for local employees to remain serfs.

              FIFY

    • Maynard J 9.2

      You were wrong from the outset, outsider, Hickey is not a journalist. That’s not his angle in the slightest.

  10. Leopold 10

    Waiting for Mr Farrar’s spin on this….

  11. Draco T Bastard 11

    http://www.tnr.com/blog/jonathan-chait/77977/delusions-egalitarianism“>Delusions Of Egalitarianism

    The chart below conveys the central point: people think the distribution of wealth is more equal than it actually is; and they think it should be much more equal than their already unrealistically-equal notion of its current state.

    More indications of the irrationality of the market.

    Deleveraging is America’s future

    The latest Flow of Funds release by the US Federal Reserve shows that the private sector is continuing to delever. However there are nuances in this process that to some extent explain why a recovery appeared feasible for a while.

    And it appears that the current GFC still has a long way to fall.

    • Herodotus 11.1

      http://blog.labour.org.nz/index.php/2010/09/26/the-tax-switchswindle/comment-page-1
      DTB remember this !!! “Since when has Bernard Hickey been from the Left?”
      He is movingthat way. Sorry had to hunt you down regarding this 😉
      And the maket is as rational as people, or is it people are as rational as the market !!!
      Also isnot the market especially the one that has been severally damaged just another version of “A Ponzi Scheme, but Govts all over the world have picked up the bill, or more correctly we the dopy citizen/tax payer

      • Draco T Bastard 11.1.1

        Apparently he is. Shows signs of intelligence and the accompanying scepticism that goes with it. He’s not just blindly believing what he’s been told but questioning it.

        The collapse of the financial system in today’s GFC is the collapse of a Ponzi Scheme. Capitalism is a Ponzi Scheme fed by the delusion that if you’re rich you can become richer without producing any wealth.

        And the maket is as rational as people, or is it people are as rational as the market !!!

        Is that a question or an exclamation?
        The market is as rational as the known information. Most people have NFI about the information.

  12. ak 12

    A stunning reversal by one of their very own and most influential tools: along with the delicious farce of ACT drowning in hypocrisy and the tories hoist by their own filthy Iwi/Kiwi petard, symptomatic of the ever-accelerating path of Progression brought about by the interweb’s rapid dissemination of information and ideas (also predicted by Karl). The seeds of their own destruction germinating in their very own recta. Happy days for you youngsters and your kids. Keep chipping away: while they still own the scungy dregs of the Media, they still own us all.

  13. r0b 13

    I think it’s been clear ever since this despairing, depressing rant that all was not well with Mr Hickey’s take on the neoliberal dream.

    Good on you Bernard for waking up and seeing the light of day. Good on you for saying so forthrightly and compellingly.

  14. BLiP 14

    Its like watching a baby take its first steps . . . speaking of which, I wonder what’s changed in Bernard’s life that he has begun to think of others and the future rather than just himself and how clever he is. The data which supports his new viewpoint has been available and proved irrefutable for a generation or more; perhaps it just takes a certain light in which to read it before it makes sense, I guess.

  15. gingercrush 15

    I think Hickey needs a grip period and he should have remained fat because he seriously looks unhealthy. As too are his rantings. From the nonsense of his predicition house prices would fall 30%, to his seriously unhinged rants about how X and Y should leave New Zealand (which many of the left seem to lap up despite Hickey having his way would see things the left despise) to his pathetic thoughts on taxes on property where he went from a CGT to Land Tax to other bullshit.

    And I’m not entirely sure why you lot are celebrating his latest rant because the rant before this was about how the period of 2000-2008 of the Clark-Cullen years were years of fraud.

    • Blighty 15.1

      Why you lot were calling for more tax cuts because of surpluses in the Labour years, many on the Left were warning that we were in a housing buble and building up too much debt but the neoliberal settings of the economy had no way to counter that.

      housing is still overpriced and is did come down 10% at the lowest.

    • Herodotus 15.2

      For me what B.H. comments on is very valid. Even “new” industries such as Wellwood is being attacked note re Sir Pete Jacko, the yacht industry from US cup. So what substainable industries and GDP have we from those years of such great opportunity that was missed?
      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10676075
      as with Blighty Houseing IS over priced, yet within the current market (Almost regained the al that was lost 2 years ago, Houseing is almost regained those losses) what a house sells for in Jafaland is almost below replacement cost. 1 reason why there are so few housing permits being issued why would a builder construct a house and struggle to sell it for any gain?
      Also there is very little land development occurring due land devaluations that then continues with the lack of willingness from Banks to fund (Not John Banks).
      http://www.interest.co.nz/news/second-lowest-june-year-level-building-consents

  16. Jum 16

    captcha: cycles

    Well all I can say is welcome back with the little people, Bernard. I do remember you taking Key to task a year or so ago when he intending proceeding with the tax cuts for those who didn’t need them and borrowing to do it. Even back then you were ‘waking’ to the Kraken.

    What concerns me is the fact that these very people are ruling over us or, in your case, influencing us and a majority of ‘us’ thought they/you deserved to be representing us.

    I guess the mathematical formula for meaningless elections is: Stupid gets voted in by even more stupid…or is it ‘by stupider’? The fact that we are the stupidest people in the world is because ‘we’ chose a moneytrader while others were trying to get rid of theirs – frightening really.

    If Key was such a good moneytrader with all the right connections to the very finance houses that would spill their poison around the world he would have known about the sub-prime crisis approaching like an iceberg. But, he didn’t warn us. On the other hand, if he was no good, why is he in control of our country? His so-called expertise got him in.

    The conspiracy theorists would have thought ‘how convenient; recession on the horizon caused by men’s greed and a nauseatingly-nice youngish rich white man with financial wheeler dealer engraved on his forehead, appears on the political scene just long enough to manipulate himself into Helensville; even the name of his electorate sounded Labour-lite. Key, manufactured in America, Lord Ashcroft advised from England, Crosby and Textored from Australia and poof: a man who would be pm’.

    But I mustn’t get too comfortable. You’re hardly rejecting Key; you’re just noting his softly, softly approach until next year if he gets in with the help of the current media influences he pays or who believe in him as the new messiah. Trouble is, Bernard, people can’t seem to trust in themselves; they seem to need someone else to think for them. Strangely enough too, economists never acknowledge the chaos theory that is within the human condition in their financial equations. Middlemen are always dangerous, aren’t they Bernard, especially when they’re mellowing, at least in public.

    Typing from Maui’s Titanic

  17. Kleefer 17

    Bernard Hickey is an economically illiterate fool. He has never been a friend of the free market and is too ignorant to understand that the problems the world’s economy is experiencing are not due to the free market (let’s not pretend we’ve ever had one) but rather the result of constant government meddling in the money supply through central banks.

    Central planners like Hickey and this site’s readers suffer from “I know best” syndrome. When the economy doesn’t work the way you think it should you always call for more (government) planning. But the real planning is done in the marketplace by entrepreneurs who try to anticipate human wants and provide for them. The price system sends “signals” that reflect the value humans place on various means of achieving their diverse ends, as well as the availability of these means now and and their anticipated availability in the future. The profit and loss mechanism informs market participants whether to continue providing a particular product or service or to redirect resources elsewhere.

    The interest rate should be like everything else in the price system, determined by supply and demand, in this case reflecting the extent to which people want to consume resources now or save them for future use. However, according to Austrian Business Cycle Theory, manipulation of the money supply through inflation and artificially low interest rates creates “malinvestment” because it distorts the all-important price signals that tell entrepreneurs whether a particular investment is likely to be a profitable one.

    Certain sectors (real estate, financial services etc) that benefit most from the injection of new money become bloated and bid workers away from other, more profitable sectors. When the money-go-round stops the investors in these sectors find out that the demand was artificial because the low interest rates didn’t reflect the availability of real (saved) resources. Loss-making businesses need to be liquidated and their workers allowed to move to more productive jobs.

    New Zealand, and the rest of the world, needs to get money out of the hands of politicians and let it reflect supply and demand like everything else. Free banking with competing bank-issued currencies backed by precious metals (determined by market preference) would render the carry trade and all those other government-created arbitrage opportunities irrelevant. Or we could do what Hickey suggests and fix the New Zealand dollar at a particular price. But how would the government decide what price is optimal? Who would that benefit? And who would get screwed?

    • Pascal's bookie 17.1

      Central planners like Hickey and this site’s readers suffer from “I know best” syndrome.

      From an Austrian, that really is some classic shit.

    • RedLogix 17.2

      And the fastest growing economy in the world? China.

      Has tight currency control. Assidiously manipulates it’s money supply.

      Has extensive central planning and intensive govt involvment in almost all industries.

      Rigid limits on overseas investment, especially land.

      An openly nationalistic economic agenda.

      None of which work according the economic wizard commenting above.

      • comedy 17.2.1

        You forgot

        A massive population
        No unions
        Fairly striking poverty outside of the “economic areas”
        Little to no regard for the environment
        No minimum wage

        etc etc etc etc

        For all its bad bits and good bits it ain’t somewhere I’d like to live, every time I go up there I’m ecstatic to get the hell out after a week… although I feel the same way about the US as well.

        • RedLogix 17.2.1.1

          None of those things you mention were being argued for by keefer.

          Large population…so does the US

          No unions…pretty much gone in the US

          Poverty …42m Americans on foodstamps. And over 22% real unemployment and the US economy is stalled. (Except of course for the billionare elite who are better off than ever.)

          No minimum wage…well you have me there. That must be the secret to being the fastest growing economy in the world.

  18. jcuknz 18

    >>>I can’t understand why selling our assets would ever be seen as a good idea. Especially strategic assets that we can’t afford to lose. We just end up paying profits that disappear offshore <<<
    This has been obvious to me for decades even though I'm just one of the peasants, why cannot the brainy types work it out?

  19. come get some 19

    because they’re the ones that make the money selling those assets

  20. Jum 20

    It’s a bit like building more roads the more cars will come. The ‘brainy types’ are more greedy than they are brainy. They always see the light when they’ve made their pile of gold; got their cosy job in parliament – Paula the name is – and there’s a lot of money to be made from vehicles. Trains are for people – cars are for government coffers. The brainy/GREEDY types are stateless and will follow the money. Don’t imagine they are here to help us. Anyone who thinks trains are bad fits into the greedy bin.

  21. The Hickey family including Bernard are family friends so its good to see Bernard has seen the light at last. Welcome back home to Cambridge Bernard all is forgiven!!

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