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How much is $50,000,000?

Written By: - Date published: 8:48 am, April 17th, 2010 - 93 comments
Categories: john key - Tags: ,

From time to time you hear mention of John Key’s personal fortune of $50M. If you say fiftymilliondollars quickly enough it doesn’t sound that much, especially in the context of politics where most budgets come in factors of millions anyway. But as a personal fortune, that amount of money needs some context to really appreciate just how much it is. As John’s a man of the people, in touch with the struggles and needs of everyday Kiwis, I got to wondering what sort of everyday costs that sort of cash would buy you.

With $50M John could buy 125 average kiwi homes at $400k a piece. That means John could buy enough houses that if he visited a different one of his homes every week, it’d take him nearly two and a half years before he would have seen all the houses he owned.

Being an everyday kind of bloke, let’s assume John has simple tastes in cars and would go for the trusty Toyota Corolla. With $50M John could buy himself 1190 Corollas at $42,000 each. That means if he used a different one of his cars every single day of his life starting from today, it would be July 2013 before he’d tried them all.

If a typical Kiwi family of four watches its pennies, as we’re supposed to do, and spends $250 per week on groceries, John’s $50M means he could buy a week’s groceries for 200,000 families. Or he could buy all the groceries for an entire year for 3846 families.

I’m struggling to buy a new washing machine at the moment, if you look around you can get one for about $600. For $50M John could buy a little over 83 thousand washing machines. So even if John had some kind of germ phobia that compelled him to wash his shirt, pants, socks and undies all in separate machines, he could use a different washing machine for each of those garments every day for the next 57 years.

Savings really make sense when you’ve got $50M. The simple interest on that much money at a meagre 5% would be $2.5 million per annum. Of course John isn’t silly with his own money so he’d get more than 5% and the interest would be compounded so let’s round it up to a conservative $3 million per annum. That means John’s little nest egg would be earning him $8,219 in interest every day, or $342 for every hour of every day and night.

Average Income
Let’s say the average income is $50,000 per annum. Just the interest John makes on his personal fortune is equivalent to the entire year’s gross earnings of 60 average Kiwis. Of course the principle of $50M is equivalent to an entire year’s gross earnings of another thousand average Kiwis.

You know those ‘Dollar a Day’ ads that ask for people to donate $30 a month to help save the life of a child? Well at that rate and with $50M, John could provide the money to keep 2,739 of those kids alive for 50 years each.

I could go on, but yeah… sure is a lot of money for one ordinary everyday Kiwi to have all to themselves. Makes me wonder if John could even begin to comprehend what it feels like to worry about the power bill. Somehow I get the feeling that when your personal fortune is making you more than $8,000 a day just in interest, you might be pretty relaxed about a global recession and soaring unemployment.


93 comments on “How much is $50,000,000?”

  1. I think Key’s sunny, relaxed outlook has more to do with the absence of a credible opposition party than his ability to buy 83,000 washing machines.

    • Eric C. 1.1

      Agreed, but here’s what makes me wonder. Key was reported to have $50 million when he returned from overseas to run for National. That was in 2001. It is 9 years later and he still only has $50 million. Sure there was a crash and all that, but the $50 million was the story before and after the crash and a lot of those losses from a year or so ago have been recouped.

      So, where is his money? What is it in and is he really that bad with his money that he can’t make more over a 9 year period?

      Good on him if he did, but there is something very fishy about the story of his wealth.

      • So, where is his money? What is it in and is he really that bad with his money that he can’t make more over a 9 year period?

        1. Most of Key’s wealth is in his property holdings and his blind trust.
        2. When I worked in the finance industry a perpetual topic of conversation was the amount of money you’d need to retire on, if you could put it in very low risk investments and still make enough of a return post inflation to live in luxury for life. $20 million was the amount that most people agreed upon, Key has more than double that, but if I were in his position that’s what I’d have done with my cash. Also, for the past four years he’s been leader of the opposition and then PM, so presumably he’s been fairly busy with things other than growing his personal wealth.

        • Eric C.

          No if you add up the value of his properties, the ones we know of any way, you’d be lucky to reach $20 million. So, most of his money is not in property. Nice try though.

          • Danyl Mclauchlan

            Speaking of nice tries, try reading to the end of the sentence:

            “Most of Key’s wealth is in his property holdings and his blind trust.”

            • Eric C.

              Oh, I see. Sorry. But still $50 million in 2001 and $50 million in 2010?

              He must be spending a hell of a lot on those 6-8 weeks of annual leave to keep it at that level, because working for the nation doesn’t cost him anything.

              What’s your source for the amount in his blind trust?

              • ghostwhowalksnz

                It seems that only his NZ investments are in the blind trust. I would say he would many US stocks and would actively manage them, he has the contacts to advise him

    • ghostwhowalksnz 1.2

      Here we go again! From his ivory tower Danyl sees only sunshine from Keys government and clouds for the opposition.
      You should get out of the ‘beltway’ more often – no not to the vineyards of Martinborough or the beaches of Nelson

  2. john 2

    I know Christianity isn’t cool anymore, but the only people Jesus really got angry and physical with were the money changers in the Temple,he was onto something, like John Key made his money as a money trader, which I’m sure is manipulation without producing anything of value to society at all. These sorts of people are the biggest bludgers of all time. And they think they’re fantastic for doing it that way, believe me!

    • tsmithfield 2.1

      John, they are just providing a service for those that have a need. Anything wrong with that?

      • Stacktwo 2.1.1

        That is exactly the excuse given by loan-sharks, slum-lords and drug pushers.

        • M

          how about dairy owners? electricians? aren’t they just providing a service for those that have a need? are they like slum-owners and drug-pushers too, because they charge for the service people want and they provide?

          and who, exactly, should be providing loans to people who need them, completely free of charge (therefore not accepting a wage or salary for their occupation), and wearing the the risk (and corresponding financial burden) that they’ll never pay the loan back?

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.2

        When it produces nothing of value? Yes.

  3. tsmithfield 3

    An article based entirely around naked envy and the tall poppy syndrome. Perhaps it would be better if we tried to emulate successful NZers rather than trying to knock them back down all the time.

    “Makes me wonder if John could even begin to comprehend what it feels like to worry about the power bill.”

    Well, given his well publicized background, he probably does have some idea.

    • MikeG 3.1

      It’s not often I agree with tsmithfield, but I do this time. I think that the post says more about the author than the subject.

    • Michael Foxglove 3.2

      tsmith – If you really think the market creates a good indication of “success” then there’s probably no point trying to argue with you.

      A genuine question for you: At any given time, how many of the four million people in New Zealand could make $50m by speculating on the money of others? I think, maybe ten. The rest of us need to be concerned with real production, offering services, and community work in order for those ten people to speculate on our money.

      You see, real wealth requires production and services. Those who produce nothing are worth nothing to our economy. Key has done nothing create real wealth, and is surely even in the eyes of classical economist, a failure.

      • TightyRighty 3.2.1

        You see Michele, Real wealth needs the infrastructure to create it. When the banks lend money to start up business, they are really speculating with other peoples money. When the government gives out money to whatever, it is speculating with other peoples money. your mortgage? that’s the bank speculating with other peoples money. Now while many mortgage managers won’t make $50,000,000 with their DCA, the theory is the same. So to create real wealth, someone has to speculate, somewhere, sometime. Probably using other peoples money. I know the left are economically illiterate, but really, to let it manifest itself into envy? that is just sad and ignorant.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Actually, it’s that the right are economically delusional. The bank, just like Jonkey, isn’t making any wealth either.

          • TightyRighty

            I’m sure all those hard working people who have scrimped and saved and then entered into a partnership to buy a house with a bank mortgage would think they are creating wealth. but DTB, you ideology is always right, depsite the fact that most die hard lefties have little wealth. hmmmm what a conundrum.

    • Eric C. 3.3

      That’s if you buy those stories about his background.

      I don’t, but even if you do, his family was not your usual family on a benefit. His parents were well educated and came from wealthy backgrounds. When the family fell on hard times, the taxpayer was there with housing and generous benefits, much more generous than today. His mum got back on her feet and worked hard and his older sisters would have worked too. I’m sure his mother had a very rough life, but little John Key would not have suffered for much.

      It’s wonderful that he was so lucky, but let’s get over this Oliver Twist version of Key’s childhood.

      • This is true , he was not what one would call on his bare bum. Although he was from a refuge family there were members of his family who were wealthy and no doubt helped. The fact is that he was an only son in a Jewish family . Jewish tradition favours the son especially the only son. everything would have been done for him ,In fact the family would have revolved around him. What I would like to know is just how long he lived in a State house. Mazel Tov!

    • tsmithfield, that would be the talkback cliche response.
      i’m not talking about tall poppies, i’m talking about excessive private wealth of absurd proportions, and what that does for a person’s ability to empathize with and truly represent the interests of ordinary kiwis.

  4. ianmac 4

    tsmithfield: What a funny position to take in saying being rich equates to being successful. There are a few very rich people who see being rich is an opportunity to contribute to those in need. Gareth Morgan springs to mind. There are others who buy very expensive houses, buy positions, and exude materialism.
    There are other people who are very successful as human beings and are very poor.
    Then the question of how wealth has been obtained. Personally I despise the wealth of people like Key, Fay, Ritchwhite, or that sad chap who buys women and uses his money to try and destroy Winston Peters.
    Tall poppies? More like noxious weeds!

  5. Perhaps it would be better if we tried to emulate successful NZers rather than trying to knock them back down all the time.

    Im in need of a few successful NZers to emulate. Maybe you could list some i could try to be more like ?…cheers

  6. Michael Foxglove 6

    Nice post Sprout. Makes it very clear exactly how disconnected someone like Key must be from everyday jokers. No wonder he’s so “relaxed” about all the problems Kiwis are facing.

  7. Stacktwo 7

    I have to disagree with tsmithfield. The issue of the widening gap between rich and poor is one of the major issues of our time. And a larger issue in NZ than in most places – What are we? 23rd in 30 OECD countries in terms of inequality?

    Key’s $50,000,000 came from somewhere, for what? It is not naked envy that makes us look askance at the completely unjustified rewards that people like Key amass for pulling financial strings. It is the obscenity of someone having sucked so much out of ordinary working families coming back to New Zealand to bash beneficiaries.

    This is not a tall poppy. This is a tall poisonous weed.

  8. deemac 8

    @tsmithfield: I’d love to know what “service” currency speculators provide!
    Except possibly to the obscenely rich to become even richer.

    • Marty G 8.1

      liquidity and efficient allocation of capital they would say. But then you just have to point out that they and their speculating mates are the cause of nearly every national and international economic disaster in the last few hundred years.

  9. ianmac 9

    Just read in John O’Farrell’s book that 8 year-old James Harold Wilson had been photographed by his dad standing on the steps of Number 10 Downing Street.
    On his becoming PM reporters asked of the photo of the 8-yearold Wilson, was that when he had decided to become PM?
    “Well no,” said the PM.
    So the Press printed that it was then, because it made a good story. Wilson was happy to let it run. Connections anyone?

  10. Shona 10

    Oi ! PollyWog here’s a short list of great kiwis /innovators , many of them world beaters, for you to emulate and start developing some real knowledge of this country’s people before youu slag us off again.
    Sam Neil, Edmund Hillary, Apriana Ngata, Princess Te Puea, Ray Avery, Chris Laidlaw,Jim Salinger, Mat Rata, Kiri Te Kanawa,Sir Archibald McIndoe. Sir Ernest Rutherford, William Pickering, Alan MacDiamard, John Clarke, Janet Frame, Beatrice Tinsley, Brian Barrat-Boyes,Whina Cooper, Ian AthField,Charles Upham,Tamati Waka Nene, Keith Park, Jane Campion, Sonja Davies.

    • pollywog 10.1

      Slow ya roll there Shona…besides the fact i wasn’t talking to you, no ones slaggin’ you off ya silly moo.

      I know of the achievements of most of them and its not a bad list. I was more intereseted in hearing who TS thought i should strive to emulate…but thanx anyway

    • ianmac 10.2

      Well done Shona! Great list. And certainly all those are to be admired for their successes. Makes us proud.
      But you have accidently put a nail in John Key’s coffin. He would not fit into that list as one to be admired because he was a maker of money out of money, rather than an artist, writer, scientist, musician, mountaineer etc.

      • prism 10.2.1

        TS “An article based entirely around naked envy and the tall poppy syndrome. Perhaps it would be better if we tried to emulate successful NZers rather than trying to knock them back down all the time.”

        I think that TS was talking about being successful as in making a lot of money and having lots of property. The sort of success that is recognisable to National Party eyes.

        Doesn’t really matter what you do, when sprayed with gold all look alike. Just don’t spoil it by not understanding how to maneouvre round the law when you are moving the money in your direction or the golden shower could get chipped (though unlikely to be lost completely).

  11. It’s interesting to compare Key with another state house boy of a similar age – Stephen Tindall. Through the Warehouse chain, Tindall has created thousands of NZ jobs, directly & indirectly & has established the Tindall Trust to advance environmental & socially desirable programmes.
    The National Party has put out the lie that Key donates his PM’s salary to charity, but when asked who the charities were, all Key could say was that he once gave $30k to the National Party. The National Party may be a basket case, but it’s not (yet) a charity.
    Nothing wrong with being ambitioius, but to accumulate $50M in a personal fortune smacks of pathalogical greed.

  12. prism 12

    Key and his like carefully accumulating pots of money probably fits into a theory of natural forces at work. Everything uses something else – if we could be more like bees getting pollen and honey from tall poppies we would have a type of virtuous circle.

    But the model is more of predatory insects like fleas and leeches sucking off the body of society. Leeches have been found to have uses that can provide a positive service to people, under proper controls. So the conclusion could be that to get useful outcomes for us all we need to tightly control these financial entrepreneurs as they follow their natural bent. Recent financial market meltdown an example of not doing that.

    Hear Goldman Sachs now on the carpet – but I guess their carpet is shag pile! Past interesting item on Bear Stearns refusal to co-operate with Poulson’s mortgage and hedge fund bidding “we didn’t think we could sell deals that someone was shorting on the other side”. (deepcapture.com 20/1/10)

  13. Marty G 13

    The average full time wage is about $48K. But what you really want to look at is the median income of all adults – $28K.

    Key’s interest at your rough estimate is over 100 times that and the wealth he owns is worth another 1500 median incomes

    by the way, the median income has decreased under Key

  14. sean14 14

    “Makes me wonder if John could even begin to comprehend what it feels like to worry about the power bill.”

    If that’s your criteria for being Prime Minister, you just have been disappointed in Helen Clark, too.

  15. Nick C 15

    Wow this post is kind of creepy. Envy much?

    • Marty G 15.1

      It’s not envious to be angry that one person has so much when most people have so little. It’s disgust at the economic system that created it and its disgust at those who have exploited it and its disgust at Key for failing to do anything for the underclass he used to talk about.

      ‘envy’ is one of the right’s lines like ‘pc’ that they use for want of an argument.

      • sean14 15.1.1

        Will you post on the alternative economic system you would prefer?

        • Marty G

          sean14. we’ve posted endlessly about taming capitalism and non-capitalist solutions. Personally, I like anarcho-syndicalism as the basis for the means of production ultimately but starting with more co-ops. I like the Georgist model of land ownership. I think there’s real opportunities even now for deepening democracy and making it more genuinely multi-tier.

          Where I differ from someone like Bill, whose a very good commentator who keeps us honest, is that I see those as desirable but a long way off and a lot of intermediate steps need to be taken along the way.

          • Bill


            Hope you’re not implying that I subscribe to a ‘spontaneous raising of the conciousness of the masses’ messianic type of politics there Marty.

            Just in case, here’s my rant….

            Incrementalism is the only non-godly way forward ( if I can put it that way), but each incremental step should be fully inclusive…and no reason why that can’t happen right now… as well as be informed by the long term goal(s).

            Fact is, I don’t see any arriving or any destination as such. All I want to see is common movement…vital movement, not a trudge or a regimented march…towards an ever changing horizon.

            My beef is that currently, most of us are deliberately ( and meekly!) sidelined in this stepping forward process; this so-called incremental change… which often means that as a stepping forward is taken, a stepping on is also undertaken….just to keep us in our proper place; that incrementalism is less of a movement forward than a sly shuffle to the side in a bid to preserve the status quo.

            Democracy is either demanded or its not ( presently not). Visions and goals will hopefully always change (notice how under capitalism the goals and aspirations are static variations on an unrealisable theme that just happen to deliver power and control back to those who control the processes while nothing of note changes?). The nature of the process determines the shape of ongoing results. A non-democratic process will yield a non-democratic result. Or put another way, a process that largely excludes us will yield a result that largely excludes us.

            And what is the point in that for any of us?

            Demand democracy now…right now, in all spheres of our lives…and we get both processes and results that are increasingly inclusive and dynamic…real incrementalism!

            Or don’t demand democracy right now and watch our future quietly sicken and fall beneath the twin wheels of climate change and peak oil….not to mention increasingly dictatorial systems of governance as those with privilege seek to hang on to it regardless.

            rant ends

          • sean14

            Cheers Marty, although I rarely agree with what is written on The Standard I was genuinely asking for info, so thanks.

        • Bill

          Here you go sean14. Enjoy the read. Would be really interested in hearing your take on it when you’re done.


  16. Bill 16

    The 50 Million Dollar Man is an emotional cripple…or have you all forgotten? And the 50 million still doesn’t suffice as compensation it seems…now he needs to be PM, now he needs more $$$, now he needs ???

    So he’s welcome to his millions.

    What is unconscionable is the material deficits that are the life long lot of however many people because of the mal-distribution of market driven capitalism. By focusing on individuals and their personal wealth rather than the systems they benefit from, they can acquire a mystique and a power in some peoples’ eyes ( Wow! How’d he get so rich! He must be awesome man! Fuck, wish I could do what he’s done!) while bullshit jealousies can get aroused in others. All pretty pointless at best. Counter productive at worst.

    The fact that John Key isn’t an every day ordinary Kiwi is only superficially to do with his money. The money comes as a result of his much more important drive to deal with and compensate for his deficit on the humanity front. Our economic and political systems aid and abet him and others like him to do this in a generally destructive fashion. He and they don’t just get rich in a vacuum. Not that you’d know when the focus is personal.

    If the focus is to be personal, then ffs focus on aspects of the individual that will not and can not generate respect or lead to people seeking to emulate or achieve what you highlight.

    John is sociopathic.

    Read the hagiography from the pre-election Herald if you have doubts and get this man removed from levers of power by all means. But banging on about his wealth when every bugger and their dog wants to get rich just won’t achieve anything on that front.

  17. prism 17

    Nick C and sean 14
    Important things are being discussed on this blog and I guess that might seem a bit creepy to you. Trying to understand anything involves lots of creepy thinking.

  18. Bored 18

    My creepy thinking is that we take the $50 million of behalf of John and deliver a cycleway which we will in gratitude name after him.

  19. Shona 19

    Thanks for that Bill. I Googled sociopath and got this.
    Feel free to tick the traits.
    Profile of the Sociopath.
    • Glibness and Superficial Charm
    • Manipulative and Conning
    They never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviors as permissible. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used. They may dominate and humiliate their victims.
    • Grandiose Sense of Self
    Feels entitled to certain things as “their right.”
    • Pathological Lying
    Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests.
    • Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt
    A deep seated rage, which is split off and repressed, is at their core. Does not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way.
    • Shallow Emotions
    When they show what seems to be warmth, joy, love and compassion it is more feigned than experienced and serves an ulterior motive. Outraged by insignificant matters, yet remaining unmoved and cold by what would upset a normal person. Since they are not genuine, neither are their promises.
    • Incapacity for Love
    • Need for Stimulation
    Living on the edge. Verbal outbursts and physical punishments are normal. Promiscuity and gambling are common.
    • Callousness/Lack of Empathy
    Unable to empathize with the pain of their victims, having only contempt for others’ feelings of distress and readily taking advantage of them.
    • Poor Behavioral Controls/Impulsive Nature
    Rage and abuse, alternating with small expressions of love and approval produce an addictive cycle for abuser and abused, as well as creating hopelessness in the victim. Believe they are all-powerful, all-knowing, entitled to every wish, no sense of personal boundaries, no concern for their impact on others.
    • Early Behavior Problems/Juvenile Delinquency
    Usually has a history of behavioral and academic difficulties, yet “gets by” by conning others. Problems in making and keeping friends; aberrant behaviors such as cruelty to people or animals, stealing, etc.
    • Irresponsibility/Unreliability
    Not concerned about wrecking others’ lives and dreams. Oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they cause. Does not accept blame themselves, but blames others, even for acts they obviously committed.
    • Promiscuous Sexual Behavior/Infidelity
    Promiscuity, child sexual abuse, rape and sexual acting out of all sorts.
    • Lack of Realistic Life Plan/Parasitic Lifestyle
    Tends to move around a lot or makes all encompassing promises for the future, poor work ethic but exploits others effectively.
    • Criminal or Entrepreneurial Versatility
    Changes their image as needed to avoid prosecution. Changes life story readily.
    Other Related Qualities:
    1. Contemptuous of those who seek to understand them
    2. Does not perceive that anything is wrong with them
    3. Authoritarian
    4. Secretive
    5. Paranoid
    6. Only rarely in difficulty with the law, but seeks out situations where their tyrannical behavior will be tolerated, condoned, or admired
    7. Conventional appearance
    8. Goal of enslavement of their victim(s)
    9. Exercises despotic control over every aspect of the victim’s life
    10. Has an emotional need to justify their crimes and therefore needs their victim’s affirmation (respect, gratitude and love)
    11. Ultimate goal is the creation of a willing victim
    12. Incapable of real human attachment to another
    13. Unable to feel remorse or guilt
    14. Extreme narcissism and grandiose
    15. May state readily that their goal is to rule the world

    • hmmmmmmmm 19.1

      If you’re trying to suggest that Key, or indeed anyone in parliament, is a sociopath or displays true sociopathic tendencies you’ve moved this post and commentary from being a bit of foolish ranting to trueky demented idiocy.

      [lprent: g – you’ve been getting comments back on the site again because some of them have been interesting and you’ve been using different pseudonyms. Then you screw up by making comments that are obviously meant to be mistaken as someone else. You’re starting to piss me off. I guess I’ll just have to move you to spam – like I did with your last two comments…. ]

      • Bill 19.1.1

        I truly suggest you read the hagliography the Herald printed before the election.

        There was not one example of him helping anyone. Not one example of him engaging with society in any meaningful remotely selfless way. Not one example of anyone he looked to as a role model, example or mentor.

        It was all ‘wee boy John’, self contained and self sufficient, propelling himself ever upward in the impersonal cut throat world of international finance and speculation before parachuting down to be ruler of NZ.

        There was not one hint of humanity in the thousands of words printed. Nothing. I commented as much at the time.

    • Bill 19.2

      Ran out of ticks. Don’t know whether to piss myself laughing or shit my pants in fear.

    • Draco T Bastard 19.3

      You posted that without reading it didn’t you? I mean, if you had read it you would have been able to supply the ticks yourself. Just an example:

      Pathological Lying
      Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests.

      When he said he wanted wages to drop he was telling the truth. When he said he was talking about Australia and/or joking he was lying. Then there was the 100,000 shares in rail. He only came clean on that one when he realised that the reporter already knew he had 100,000. Before that he kept up the lie that he only had 50,000.

      • Bill 19.3.1

        No. I read it. And like I said, I ran out of ticks.

        I only had a 20kg sack of them and when they were gone, that was it.

        • Draco T Bastard

          I wasn’t replying to you but to Shona.

          • Bill

            a-hem. That would have been my number 14 getting in the way there I guess.

          • Shona

            DracoT B, I did read it and was gobsmacked at how many of the traits listed described our PM. Until today I had no idea of how to define /describe a sociopath. That’s why I read the Standard,it’s so frequently illuminating. Cheers!

    • ianmac 19.4

      Though John did show deep genuine emotion on Election Night as he marched into the hall flanked by bodyguards, (No 5?) and laughed hysterically at the cleverness of his win. Unless that is part of No 14?

    • aj 19.5

      Shona 1:16pm

      You are describing Tiger Woods

  20. Nemesis 20

    So funny to see you guys get bothered and obsessed about Key’s wealth.

    John Key didn’t make his money off the taxpayer. Same can’t be said about Helen Clark (worth at least $5 million) and Phil Goff (worth a couple of mill).

    When it comes to understanding the needs of ordinary New Zealanders I would rather have somebody who has earned their money through hard work, has a family and raises kids, and is able to engage with ordinary people than somebody who has been a career politician getting fat off the state all their lives.

    I see John Key at the supermarket shopping a lot. Doubt Goff ever does that except for photo ops.

    • Draco T Bastard 20.1

      John Key didn’t make his money off the taxpayer.

      It seems that Jonkey had his hand in the 1987 crash that badly affected NZ as well as the latest GFC (he was in charge of derivatives at Merryl Lynch in the correct time period). On top of that he hasn’t produced anything of value at all, ever – he’s only ever destroyed.

      I would rather someone who understands how to create wealth rather than someone who got very well rewarded for making someone else richer at everyone else’s expense.

  21. Gooner 21

    Helen Clark is a multi millionaire.

    I don’t see your green envious concern about that.

    • Draco T Bastard 21.1

      I hold all millionaires in the same contempt because they’ve all used the same exploitation to get there. HC does have a redeeming factor though – when in government she actually tried to help the society to be better while Jonkey and the rest of NACT are doing their damnedest to make things worse.

  22. tsmithfield 22

    Just a couple of points to respond to a number of similar criticisms of my earlier post.

    Firstly, currency traders actually do a valuable service. Some people like to hedge their positions (exporters for instance who want the certainty of a fixed exchange rate). Hedgers want certainty, not necesarilly the optimal return. On the other side of those trades are the speculators, who like to try and make money by predicting the direction currencies are likely to go. So, without the speculators it would be difficult for exporters to hedge. In fact, it is possible for those on both sides of the trade to be happy. So, it is incorrect to assume that speculators are lower than leeches.

    Secondly, being successful in your chosen career is certainly a fair measure of success. If that makes you incredibly rich in the process, then so be it. Of course, taking opportunities to do good with what you have is even better. But, you are making big assumptions assuming that JK isn’t doing that also. For instance, it has been well known that he donates a good part of his salary as PM.

    • the sprout 22.1

      the depth of your false consciousness is touching

    • Pascal's bookie 22.2

      “For instance, it has been well known that he donates a good part of his salary as PM.”

      Good on him if he does. But it’s far from well known. In fact every time that comes up someone asks for a cite to anything even suggesting that it’s true. The best anyone has come up with a is a promise, at about the same time he was promising north of fifty bucks a week to the average wage earner.

      Seeing your claiming ‘knowledge’, (though strangely in the past tense; what the fuck is that all about?), be a good chap and provide the clincher.

    • Pascal's bookie 22.3

      On the great and glorious bankers who are not leachers oh no, not them. I see the great survivors Goldman Sachs are getting sued, presumably out of nothing more than envy and spite. I see also that the architecture is having to be redone around just what these great and good are allowed to do, again presumably out of nothing but mean hearted jealousy.

      • tsmithfield 22.3.1

        Here is an excellent article on the Goldman situ.


        As I understand it, the issue is lack of disclosure, rather than the use of specific instruments. Of course, disclosure is an important consideration in many contracts.

        • Pascal's bookie

          No shit there were some disclosure issues.

          Holy jeebus on his angry stick mate. ‘Not so much the instruments as a lack of disclosure’. That’s like saying Jonny McStabby’s problem with the law is not so much the sticking the knife in someone’s throat, but the failure to gain consent. Or that I didn’t kill ‘im, it was the blood loss m’lud.

          They were selling shit they knew stone cold was rotten. The guy that was providing them the shit to sell, was betting against it being any good. They knew this. They then sold it as good.

          What’s excellent about that picerno piece?

          If you ain’t reading Felix Salmon on this, you should be.


          While you’re there, check out the pitchbook Goldman was selling the toxic with. No mention there of anything much that investors might need to know.

          And watch him dissect GS latest spin:


          If the word “Paulson’ isn’t included in the section about “extensive disclosure’, then I don’t think the disclosure can be considered to be extensive. The point here is that neither IKB (which really wasn’t that sophisticated) nor ACA was told by Goldman that this synthetic transaction — which, yes, necessarily includes a short side — was actually architected by that short side. Paulson stacked the deck by giving ACA a pool of toxic assets to choose from, without revealing that they were short. Goldman knew what Paulson was doing, and was complicit in the silence. That’s not “extensive disclosure’, chaps.

          seriously though, Salmon is the shizzle on this stuff. Bookmark him, he’ll make you smarter.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 22.4

      Ive heard this many times that he ‘donates’ a good portion of his income as PM.

      Yet we have no actual figures on where it goes, except of course his annual donation of $30,000 to the coffers of the National party. ( which is publically released every year) Of course Hhelen donated to the labour party every year too, but I bet she didnt big note that and her other donations

  23. Lucy 23

    I read somewhere that Key’s mother was a labour supporter so she knew what hard times were. Apparently they used to argue politics. So whatever his mother’s struggle didn’t rub off on him.

    I would advise everyone to go look at a film on PBS called “The Warning”. You can watch it online at the link below.


    It is about derivatives one of Mr keys main areas of expertise. They go right back to the Bankers Trust fraud of 1993 when Key was head of the NZ branch. Bankers trust were sucessfully sued by Proctor and Gamble for fraud in selling them derivatives. Yes back in 1993 derivatives were toxic and this is our great financial mistros claim to fame, his expertise in an area that has bought the worlds economy to its knees.

    While Key was on the foreign exchange committee of the Federal reserve of New York there was a letter sent ( you can see it on the Feds Website) to congress co-signed by the committe on which Key served, advising them not to regulate derivatives. Non regulated or Over The Counter (OTC) derivatives had already collapsed a large financial institution “Long Term Capital Managment” and could have taken the US economy down because no one new about the problem. Why didn’t they know. Becuase there was no regulation of OTC derivatives. They were a completely dark market.

    So why after an obvious near collapse of the worlds economy in the late 90s did Keys “Foreign Exchange Committee” recomend the timebomb be left to tick away. It must have been clear to even those who don’t understand derivatives that large investments ( at that stage about 40 trillion) affecting and endangering the whole financial system should be regulated so that danger to the worlds economy can be seen comming.

    If key has done nothing criminal (that we know of ) he is guilty of incredibly bad judgement and he like most of the bankers is not paying the price. The millions in America now living on the streets who we never see on TV are paying for his bad judjment or at the very least his silence when his committee urged the US congress to pass the “Commodities Futures Modernisation Act” which prevented regulation of derivatives and allowing the problem to grow to insurmountable levels approx 600 trillion or 10 times the size of the world markets.

    • tsmithfield 23.1

      Lucy, just a couple of points.

      Firstly, it wasn’t the use of derivatives that caused the crash. The use of derivatives may have sped-up and exacerbated it. However, it was not the cause. The cause was the incredible amount of over-leveraging that has occurred in both public and private sectors to keep the western lifestyle alive and well. Guess how they’re fixing it. More over-leveraging. Guess how that is going to end in a few years from now. And the next bubble will eventually burst whether there are derivatives or not. Remember, there wasn’t the degree of sophistication in derivates in the crash that triggered the great depression.

      Secondly, derivatives are not inherently good or evil. I am not familiar with the type of derivatives you refer to. However, I do trade in options which are derivatives of shares. These options (call and put options) can be used as inexpensive insurance for mum and dad investors to protect their share investments (e.g. through put options), or as low risk ways to generate extra income from their shares (e.g. covered calls). On the other hand, speculators get plenty of leverage to generate good profits if we get it right (not so easy to do).

      So, on one side of the trade there is often someone wanting to get cheap insurance to protect their investments, or make some low-risk money on existing shares. On the other side of the trade are speculators betting in the opposite direction. You see, every one can be happy. Except of course the speculators who get it wrong.

      • the sprout 23.1.1

        what caused the crash was a lack of regulation and an excess of greed

        • tsmithfield

          Here is a hint at what was at the root cause of the crash:


          Now the right-hand end of that graph is very scary. But what I want you to look at is the rest of the graph. How often since the early seventies has the US actually been running a surplus? Imagine that scenario multiplied across multitudes of other economies. Similar behaviour with private citizens using the “increase in value” of their houses as cash machines to fund life-styles they couldn’t really afford. This sort of behaviour over many years has left economies incredibly vulnerable. Sure, opportunists might be motivated by greed to take advantage of the situation. However, if the situation had never developed, they wouldn’t have had the opportunity in the first place.

          Heres another hint. All that “money” tied up in derivatives, shares etc never actually existed in the first place, and still doesn’t exist other than in peoples brains. I’ll demonstrate what I mean using shares as an example. Say the current price of shares for a given company is $5.00 and there are $10,000, 000 of them. Does that mean we can calculate the worth of the company by multiplying $5 by $10,000,000? No. Because most of it is speculative value only. If all those shares were dumped on the market at once, the value would crash back down to their actual intrinsic worth.

          Welcome to the world of fiat currencies and speculation and imaginary value.

          • Draco T Bastard

            And yet he still thinks that the economy as it’s run is viable…

            • tsmithfield

              Can’t change the economy. All we can do is adapt to it.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Yes, actually, we can and should change the economy to one that’s based upon reality rather than having one that’s based upon the delusional rantings of the neo-libs and the conservatives.

              • exactly. markets are there to serve people, not the other way around.

  24. Jimmie 24

    For all the lefties envies here, instead of moaning about John Key’s personal wealth , how about bettering yourselves, getting off your benefits and using some initiative to help you and your families to get off the poverty line.
    Frek why do lefties always expect others to do things for them. Work hard for due reward that is how things should work in the real world. And the state should grab as little tax off your hard work as is necessary.
    The socialist fantasy of the ‘people’ working so that mother state can benefit all is a myth that was exposed in the failed USSR and Eastern Europe.
    If you are poor and destitute stop looking for handouts and start looking for how you can better your self. If all kiwis did that the country would be at the top of OECD not at the bottom. Get a dictionary and learn what ‘individual initiative’ means.

    • WillieMaley 24.1

      Mindboggling in your ignorance there Jimmie.

    • Draco T Bastard 24.3

      One thing that I learned from a multi-millionaire who became one after spending his life working hard is that working hard will never make you rich. His advice, get a lot of others working hard for you and then you’ll become rich.

      The USSR was, according to scholars, communist for somewhere between 30 and 50 days. It failed because it became a state capitalist.

      It’s very difficult to take the initiative when the resources you need to do so aren’t available (as they’re tied up by the already wealthy).

  25. Lucy 25

    “what caused the crash was a lack of regulation and an excess of greed”

    Yes the lack of regulation was the problem and Key’s Foreign Exchange Committe” supported not regulating derivatives.

    Brooksley Born who headed the Commodities Futures Trading Committee” says at the end of the movie that derivatives are the problem. She topped her very large law class at Stanford and worked in derivatives law for 20 years before she became head of the CFTC. You might like to watch the movie. Its a little on the basic side and pussyfoots around the really big players but a pretty good movie made by the very respectable PBS Frontline.

    • tsmithfield 25.1

      Lucy, derivatives may have contributed to and exacerbated the problem. But they did not cause it. The boulder was balanced on the edge. Derivatives helped give the boulder a push.

  26. It is an obscene amount of money and far more than any individual ever needs. We should stop “celebrating” the wealthy and celebrate instead those whose intention is to ensure that all of our inhabitants have an adequate amount so that they can have a reasonable quality of life.

  27. Pete 27

    I can’t believe you lot. Why not do some work and save something for yourselves rather than both complaining someone else is doing it and hoping they are so you can help yourselves to it.

    What a bunch of self-serving wankers.

    [lprent: You mean work like I’ve been doing for the last couple of days moving this site to a new server.

    By the look of your comment you just look like another stupid freeloading troll because you are incapable of participating in the debate. Looks like you simply don’t have the requisite intelligence to do so. So you leave useless comments like this one. Face it – you’re an ignorant luser. ]

  28. Lucy 28


    The whole financial system ia a mess I know. However this is what has bought us to the Brink. I see the whole thing as deliberate.

    You are entitled to your opinion but the corruption that has gone on in the OTC derivatives markets is a big problem. Our PM was involved in that which says a lot about his suitability to be PM. He is not respectable and not suitable to be PM. Thats how I see it. The New Zealand Herald has either purposly or mistakenly mislead the public about the attack on the NZ dollar 20 years ago and have no intention of looking at or correcting their article that is obviously wrong about where Key was during that attack on our dollar.

    I spoke with one guy at the Herald about the obvious mistake in their article re the Key timeline and the Guys response was . Why don’t you leave him alone ( Key ) that was 20 years ago. Clearing up the real facts of the case as incorrectly outined in their article giving Key the all clear was pretty obviously something that made the guy I spoke to at the Herald extremely angry. Seems they are only interested in labour or NZ First corruption. We are not allowed to challenge their incorrect story about John Key.
    I wonder if you can take news organisations to court for refusing to look into articles that can be shown not to be correct. It would be good if you could make them address it and print the findings on the front page.
    Theres a new law for the Labour party. Make the news papers address important inaccuricies then publish corrections on the front page.

    Unfortunately there are big salaries ( and not so big ) in television, Newspapers and talkback radio. I guess the corporations who own the news and advertisers here are grateful to Key for the tax breaks.

    How to influence the news. Pay your political pawns big money. Our media personalities know who own them and give them that great lifestyle, those a nice pay packets. And like everyone else they need a job.

  29. tsmithfield 29

    Lucy, as I said, I can’t really comment on these specific derivatives. However, another practice that has been argued has been a major cause of market crashes is “naked short selling”. This involves large institutions selling shares they don’t actually own, forcing down share prices, then buying back the shares at a lower price. Thus, this practice is being considered for regulation. However, research suggests that regulating this practice won’t prevent crashes.


    The issue is that businesses that are the target of these sorts of practices are generally in terminal decline anyway. Short selling merely speeds up the inevitable.

    The practice of naked short selling, for example, would not work too well with a healthy business because it would just create buying opportunities for other buyers. Thus, the price would probably end up going higher, (after a brief decline) and the short seller would end up having to buy most of the shares back at a higher price.

  30. MollyByGolly 30

    “I’m struggling to buy a new washing machine at the moment, if you look around you can get one for about $600.”

    Don’t worry Sprout, the budget will announce tax cuts. At $50 a week, it will only take you 12 weeks to pay for your new washer 🙂

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