I am intrigued by the recent coverage of the state of the economy. We have reports that things will get bumpy from some economists, with others saying dire predictions are “premature grandstanding”.
Cullen doesn’t appear too worried, saying the economy’s in better shape than most to weather the storm. It was nice to hear this comment from visiting economist Joseph Stiglitz (former Chief Economist of the World Bank, and one of the ten most cited economists in history) when asked by John Campbell how to “make the pain less”?
Stiglitz: ‘One of the things that your government has done, very wise, very much in contrast to the US is that you’ve run some surpluses, fiscal surpluses. You use the resources that you have, to have a public works programme, to do some of the investment in infrastructure that will lay the foundations for strong future economic growth. [It is a] particularly good time to do it as the awareness of the importance of global warming has become so great. That means that there is a real need for new public infrastructure, new public transportation systems, changing the way some of our cities are designed. A really good opportunity to do some of the investments that will prepare New Zealand for facing the challenges of global warming, so in a sense the timing of this couldn’t be better.’
Campbell Live, 18 Mar 2008
But we can’t seem to get a clear steer of what Mr Key thinks. Mr Key today refused to characterise the situation as a recession.
“I think what we do know is we are in a very fragile economic environment,” he told Radio New Zealand.
No-one seems to have noticed that Mr Key has admitted to being part of the problem, with an overly negative focus:
Key: “Um, I was, I was out there actually being a bit negative, or saying, saying, you know, look, I was a bit concerned about the, the economy, but I mean one of the things, and I often say this to business audiences particularly when I get up is that, look, I, it’s very easy when you’re the leader of the opposition to, sort of, see shadows because, you know, quite honestly in weaker economic conditions, Governments often get booted out, and, um, so you’ve got to be careful you don’t get too negative on things when you’re an opposition politician, because you can, you can see bad things in, in a lot of things, and that may not always, you know, always be right, so, um …
Presenter: Nobody likes a stirrer.
Key: Yeah, I have been a bit negative on the economy, and I think with … (BFM, 13 Mar 2008)
So I guess that means we can expect to see him looking on the sunny side of life for awhile?