Inflation up but already on way down

Written By: - Date published: 1:18 pm, October 21st, 2008 - 20 comments
Categories: economy - Tags: ,

Inflation hit 5.1% for the year to September driven by the mammoth spike in oil, food, and other commodity which has abated since then, for now.

There is nothing that could be done to avoid this impact on New Zealand from international markets. The economy is already in recession, and now would be the worst time to apply the brakes to the domestic economy in a futile attempt to counter price rises coming from abroad. Not that this fact will do anything to dissuade opportunistic attacks from National and its proxies, who will rely on their audience’s ignorance to dishonestly lay the blame at Labour’s door.

Fortunately, the worst is already over. September quarter inflation was lower than June quarter and December quarter will be lower again, given the drop in fuel prices. In the medium-term, barring more shocks (which I personally expect but the officials don’t model for), inflation will fall back into the target 1-3% range. Right now, inflation isn’t the problem, growth is (although the causes of the two are inter-linked and largely outside domestic control). Given that, there is nothing to stop the Reverse Bank making a major reduction in interest rate on Thursday to give the economy a kick start.

20 comments on “Inflation up but already on way down”

  1. bobo 1

    Inflation is the least of the countries worries I would say is just an overhang from high oil prices in July.

  2. Lampie 2

    There is nothing that could be done to avoid this impact on New Zealand from international markets. The economy is already in recession, and now would be the worst time to apply the brakes to the domestic economy in a futile attempt to counter price rises coming from abroad. Not that this fact will do anything to dissuade opportunistic attacks from National and its proxies, who will rely on their audience’s ignorance to dishonestly lay the blame at Labour’s door.

    Hmmm I smell the stench of merchant bankers to blame here, hmmmm maybe John Wayne-Key

  3. QoT 3

    Slight typo in the headline there, SP.

  4. Tane 4

    I’ll fix it for him. Sigh…

  5. Non-tradable inflation was 4.1% – this does not include anything to do with world prices.

    The fact is that there is an issue with inflation – which stems from the Bank letting core inflation rise too strongly several years ago. Given the special circumstances we are facing, the Reserve Bank is going to ignore inflation in the short-term to prevent a wholesale collapse in economic activity – however, once that is achieved they will have to peg-back inflationary pressures.

    Inflation is always a problem – the advantage of inflation targeting is that we can deal with this problem without having to sacrifice long-term growth and stability. The inflation failure is in the past – and we will have to pay in the future to fix it.

    With current policy inflation will not fall back into the target band “over the medium term” – even the Bank has resigned itself to this fact.

  6. Daveski 6

    No disagreements at all SP. Haven’t seen any attempts to politicise this as it was pretty much as you say.

    Government spending has been increasing as a % of GDP but neither Labour nor National appear to be worried about that at present given the circumstances. To that extent, I’d say Labour has dodged a smallish bullet but the main impacts were uncontrollable and as you point out will address some of the pressures as prices slip back.

  7. Sarah 7

    No one will try and politicise this – it simply doesn’t make any sort of logical sense to blame the government for a problem that is derived from international factors. Hell, even Farrar hasn’t tried to.

  8. Phil 8

    . In the medium-term, barring more shocks (which I personally expect but the officials don’t model for), inflation will fall back into the target 1-3% range.

    What officials would they be?

  9. “it simply doesn’t make any sort of logical sense to blame the government for a problem that is derived from international factors”

    Indeed, except for the fact that our inflation problem isn’t the result of international factors – the increase in petrol and food prices has made the consumer price index rise a bit more, but real, underlying inflation is higher than it should be. The Bank has the ability to control that and didn’t.

    It is actually quite easy to blame whatever government is in power for the inflation problem – you merely have to say that they consistently spent more than they implied, which leads to the RBNZ not increasing interest rates enough and, viola, you have an inflation problem. That is not an argument I’m going to make here though.

    [lprent: Link to it here when you do, that way I’ll see it. That is a discussion I’d like to get involved in. And I’m a bit busy to read around the blogs at present.]

  10. Pascal's bookie 10

    It is actually quite easy to blame whatever government is in power for the inflation problem – you merely have to say that they consistently spent more than they implied, which leads to the RBNZ not increasing interest rates enough and, viola, you have an inflation problem. That is not an argument I’m going to make here though.

    Now that’s some quality ambiguous.

  11. lprent 11

    It isn’t really – but I did have to double take a few times. What he is saying is that the government spent more than they’d indicated to the RBNZ.

    My issue with that would be – when?

    Inflation affects the cost of goods and services to the government as well. So if there was higher than expected inflation or wage increases then the government will have get budget problems as well. All businesses have that issue. Unlike businesses, very little of the government operations have the option to then increase prices to recover costs. It becomes a chicken and egg problem.

  12. Pascal's bookie 12

    But without saying why he is not going to make that argument here, we don’t know whether or not Matt accepts that the argument applies to NZ right now.

    It’s just an argument someone could make to blame a government. 😉

  13. Stack 13

    “no-one will try and politicise this – it simply does not make any sort of logical sense to blame the government . . . ”

    Of course some people are devoid of any sort of logical sense, e.g John Key, in his campaign opening speech on 12 Oct, blaming the government for the following:

    • You had nine years without a tax cut.
    • Interest rates doubled.
    • Inflation went through the roof.
    • The wage gap with Australia widened.
    • And more of your friends and family have left this country permanently.

    ( http://www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?articleId=28713 )

  14. gomango 14

    To expand a little more on what Matt said (all of which is very coherent and correct) core inflation doesnt include the direct price impact of traded commodities (or housing for that matter). What can come thru is the second order impact of tradeable goods – ie petrol goes up, cost of inputs to a business go up and where they have pricing power, firm raises its prices. Or petrol prices go up, wage earner fills his holden and says “gee that was expensive. Must ask boss for a 6% pay rise instead of 3%.” Which leads to what the RBNZ really targets – not reported inflation but inflationary expections. Reported inflation is just a backward looking indicator of where inflationary expections of the various components of the economy kind of sort of panned out. I dont think monetary policy is a science, rather its an art, and for all his other blemishes Brash was actually rather good at running monetary policy under the framework politicians gave him. The major criticism of Bollard is that he was far too lax about raising rates when the economy was growing strongly on the back of high commodity prices. And now we are seeing the result of the easy liquidity (which flowed into inflated asset prices) we had for 5 years. We have to pay for the easy money by giving up some hard money (ie house prices, overpriced equities falling back to more normal valuations) and an adjustment shock always has a severe impact on those most exposed to over valued assets. There is no such thing as a new paradigm.

    Inflation is bad. Its guaranteed to make everyone poorer whereas other bad things (excesses of either left or right wing economic policy) tend to make just some people poorer. And the RBNZ act is the “least worse” solution to target inflation. I find it interesting though, essentially the RBNZ framework was set up in the late 80’s – little has changed in the levers the RBNZ has to adjust the economy (though their internal forecasting and analytic abilities have developed), compare that to the absolute avalanche of innovation in financial markets and its easy to see why inflation targetting seems a bit old fashioned. It wouldn’t work for political reasons, but I think the RBNZ needs independent, broad fiscal tools to complement monetary policy – perhaps a mandate to increase/decrease GST over a business cycle with any additional revenue at the top of the cycle going into a sovereign fund to be lent back to the government at the bottom of the cycle.

    And Stack, Key can legitimately pose those arguments – its very hard to prove or disprove them though. If one of the compents of GDP – say X (governement expenditure) is inefficient or poorly delivered it will have a negetive macro effect which could show up as inflation. Not making that case as I don’t know the answer but a good economist (depending on his political bias and intellectual integrity) could easily prove /disprove the supposition.

  15. Hoolian 15

    Matt Nolan is right on the ball.

    Non-tradable inflation has nothing to do with international markets. It’s like blaming Zimbabwe’s inflation on the international economy – which is incorrect, its Mugabe’s fault, and his government. The greatest contributor to inflation is consumer spending – i.e. the goverment of the last nine years has been spending excessively and not investing or saving enough of it (despite what Cullen thinks)

    Hence why the Reserve Bank spent most of 2004-2007 telling Cullen to stop spending surpluses. But he didn’t listen because Labour are morons at elementary economics.

    That’s why National and the rest of NZ are blaming Labour. Because its their fault. They are responsible for pushing up inflation through spending – which they were warned about. Take your whimpering elsewhere, Clinton. Your rigid ideology blankets any commonsense you might have

  16. Matthew Pilott 16

    What, Hoolian, on reducing debt, pumping up the Cullen fund and WfF, and polwing the dough into Kiwisaver? The government wasn’t buying too many wide-screen TVs and packets of crisps. Take your half-eyed (you don’t even get a whole eye) bluster elsewhere, Hoolian. blah blah blah what you said. So much anger – so little substance.

  17. Phil 17

    Inflation affects the cost of goods and services to the government as well

    Pedantic point: “Inflation” as we measure it in the CPI does not reflect the changing costs faced by government going about its business, only the changes in prices faced by consumers.

    Approrimate changes to the costs of government operation are better reflected in the Producers Price Inputs Index (industry M onwards) Labour Cost Index, and Capital Goods Index

    All available on the helpful Statistics NZ website
    here

  18. Hoolian 18

    What, Hoolian, on reducing debt, pumping up the Cullen fund and WfF, and polwing the dough into Kiwisaver? The government wasn’t buying too many wide-screen TVs and packets of crisps. Take your half-eyed (you don’t even get a whole eye) bluster elsewhere, Hoolian. blah blah blah what you said. So much anger – so little substance.

    Matthew Pilott, there is a considerable amount of irony to that statement. But I won’t retaliate. Why are you not prepared to debate the issues as opposed to run of with your mouth? Authors on this blog never defend their posts, its pathetic.

    In the massive surplus in Budget 2007, Labour did not spend enough of the $11 billion on debt reduction or KiwiSaver. In fact, not enough was spent on KiwiSaver as detailed in the PREFU. Labour increased public spending in all of its ministries (save for Maori Affairs), continued to roll out plans for spending, despite being warned by the Reserve Bank, and wasted away opportunities to dramatically increase New Zealand’s economic prosperity. Pilott, you are in no position to discredit the Reserve Bank just because you blog at the Standard.

    Labour did not purchase TVs, or crisps as you suggested. But it might as well have done. Its horrific levels of spending over the past nine years has shredded the economy, and done nothing for our economic prospects. So what if they reduced debt to 17 per cent of GDP – all that will have been undone by 2012, beyond that its expected to get much, much worse.

    Also, WFF is not anti-inflationary. Tax cuts would have been, but tax credits fuel inflationary pressures because it’s considered government expenditure as people are forced to apply to the government for it, as opposed to having it reimbursed in their incomes.

    No wonder National has taken to calling Cullen a fair-weather Finance Minister.

    So much anger, such little substance.

  19. Matthew Pilott 19

    Hoolian, if you could restrain yourself and post comments free of abuse you might get a response – perhaps you missed it over the years of your life but attacking people personally isn’t a good way to get into a discussion with them. I’ve yet to see you post a comment that doesn’t end with a personal attack, so I’d suggest curtailing them. Whether the rest of what you say merits a response is a different question.

    There was, as you put it, ‘considerable irony in that comment’ of yours. You can hardly call me angry for mocking your abrasive style. Perhaps you didn’t see that that was what I was doing. “Why are you not prepared to debate the issues as opposed to run off with your mouth? ” You can hardly say that and then follow up by debating the issues that I raised! I’m surprised the contradiction didn’t strike you.

    Anyway, all that aside, I disagree that government spending alone caused our inflation to go outside the RBNZ optimal range. Some of it did, sure. I guess that brings us to the classic “wage increases are inflationary” argument – but public sector wages did not rise over and above equivalent private sector wages. That’s an unaviodable expense.

    As I understand it, spending on Kiwisaver has far exceeded forecasts due to an exceptionally high uptake – this also counteracts inflation by tying up private expenditure. Not a bad way to fire off a few billion.

    Debt reduction has eaten up a fair few more billion over the years – that an unsavoury international situation is likely to reverse those gains isn’t Cullen’s fault, and it’s worth noting those gains would have not existed without Cullen. Instead of Key’s fabled ‘decade of deficits’, we’d be half way through our first one under Key/English. I wouldn’t call them ‘fair weather Finance Ministers’, given that their policies clear out any fair weather before we get to appreciate it!

  20. The Realist 20

    Notwithstanding whether inflation is going to go up or down (as there is still some price pressure to come) but rather what is the true level of inflation at different levels of society.

    I remember a few years ago a think tank did an analysis of inflation in the UK and found huge variances between differing groups, due the basket of goods they were purchasing.

    At that stage those over 60 odd had about 3 times the inflation rate of students, as much of their expenditure was on energy costs, housing and food (going up) while the young spent more on clothers, electronics, holidays (all going down).

    Probably another example of stats not really telling the true story…

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    1 week ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    1 week ago
  • Democracy – I Don’t Think So
    So, those who “know best” have again done their worst. While constantly claiming to be the guardians of democracy and the constitution, and respecters of the 2016 referendum result, diehard Remainers (who have never brought themselves to believe that their advice could have been rejected) have striven might and main ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • Government says it will now build just one really nice home
    Following publication of this article, the Ministry has requested it to be noted that this supplied image is not necessarily representative of what the final house will look like, and it “probably won’t be that nice.” As part of today’s long-anticipated reset of the Government’s flagship KiwiBuild policy, Housing Minister ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and your cup of coffee
    Over the next week or two we will be running three synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016).  The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Marx began Capital not with a sweeping historical ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Still juking the stats
    The State Services Commission and Ombudsman have released another batch of OIA statistics, covering the last six months. Request volumes are up, and the core public service is generally handling them within the legal timeframe, though this may be because they've learned to extend rather than just ignore things. And ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: Time for a New Deal: 25 years on
    In 1994, I was editing an ambitious street mag called Planet, from a fabled office at at 309 Karangahape Road. The thirteenth issue of the magazine was published in the winter of that year and its cover embodied a particularly ambitious goal: the end of cannabis prohibition.I wanted to do ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Not impressed
    KiwiBuild was one of the Ardern government's core policies. The government would end the housing crisis and make housing affordable again by building 100,000 new homes. Of course, it didn't work out like that: targets weren't met, the houses they did build were in the wrong place, and the whole ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Solar beats coal
    As the climate crisis escalates, it is now obvious that we need to radically decarbonise our economy. The good news is that its looking easy and profitable for the energy sector. Wind is already cheaper than fossil fuels, and now solar is too:The levellised cost of solar PV has fallen ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • A Step Too Far.
    A Crown Asset? For reasons relating to its own political convenience, the Crown pretends to believe that “No one owns the water.” To say otherwise would re-vivify the promises contained in the Treaty of Waitangi – most particularly those pertaining to the power of the chiefs and their proprietary rights ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Where Money Comes From
    Most people would say, no doubt, that they have a pretty good idea of what money is. They live with the reality of money every day. It is what is needed to buy the necessities of life and to maintain a decent standard of living. You get money, they would ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Banned by the Green Party leadership: Jill Abigail on women’s rights and trans rights
    The article below was an opinion piece that appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Te Awa (the NZ Green Party’s newsletter) and on the Greens website.  In keeping with their policy of hostility to women defending women’s right to female-only spaces, Green bureaucrats have since removed the opinion piece.  ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The fallacy of the proximity argument.
    Longer term readers may remember my complaining that, as a political scientist, it is burdensome to have non-political scientists wanting to engage me about politics. No layperson would think to approach an astrophysicist and lecture him/her on the finer details of quarks and black holes, but everybody with an opinion ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago
  • Where We Stood: Chris Trotter Replies To Stevan Eldred-Grigg.
    Joining The Fight: Stevan Eldred-Grigg's argument for New Zealand staying out of the Second World War fails not only on the hard-headed grounds of preserving the country’s strategic and economic interests; and not just on the soft-hearted grounds of duty and loyalty to the nation that had given New Zealand ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Universities back the climate strike
    On September 27, School Strike 4 Climate will be striking for a future to pressure the government for meaningful climate action. This time, they've asked adults to join them. And now, Lincoln University and Victoria University of Wellington have signed on:Victoria University of Wellington has joined Lincoln University in endorsing ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Another constitutional outrage
    Another day, another constitutional outrage in the UK. This time, the government is saying that if parliament passes a law to stop Brexit before being prorogued, they may just ignore it:A senior cabinet minister has suggested Boris Johnson could defy legislation to prevent a no-deal Brexit if it is forced ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ending dairy in Canterbury
    Environment Canterbury has finally proposed nitrogen limits to stop dairy farmers from poisoning Christchurch's water supply. And naturally, farmers are whining about it:A proposed move by Environment Canterbury (ECan) to protect Christchurch's drinking water by setting tough – some would say, draconian – nitrate reductions in the decades ahead and ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Is National the party of climate arson?
    The Zero Carbon Bill is currently before select committee. While its targets are weak, its a generally sensible bill that promises to establish a long-term framework to guide emissions reductions. But National hasn't made up its mind on whether it will support it - and according to Andrea Vance in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Experts warn Harold the Giraffe “well past” typical giraffe life expectancy, may not have long
    Dum-de-doo. Children across New Zealand have known him for generations as the lovable giraffe who tells them to exercise, hydrate and not to shove lit cigarettes up their nostrils. But a world renowned giraffe expert says we shouldn’t be getting attached to Life Education’s Harold the Giraffe, as he is ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • August ’19 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
    Image credit: 22 BLOGGERS WITH ADVICE FOR RESEARCHERS AND EVALUATORS, ILLUSTRATED I notice a few regulars no longer allow public access to the site counters. This may happen accidentally when the blog format is altered. If your ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bye, bye to the collusion lie
    Sums it up, really. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Opinion: Treat your car by buying extra petrol to snack on while you aren’t driving
    By Mike Hosking. Yesterday morning, I waltzed into work, and as I walked past the drones aggressively typing out news on the computers I’ve repeatedly asked to be moved further away from, I caught a glimpse of the words “climate change”, and noticed that suspiciously they weren’t in condescending quotation ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • US imperialism, Huawei, racism and imperial anxiety
    by Tony Norfield US political opinion against China has two solid bases. The first is the longstanding racist and protectionist sentiment in the white working class; the second is a more recent anxiety about China’s economic prowess in America’s ruling elite. This article notes some historical aspects of anti-Chinese racism ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago

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