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Is this the next GFC?

Written By: - Date published: 4:27 pm, March 17th, 2020 - 24 comments
Categories: economy, grant robertson, health, jacinda ardern, uncategorized - Tags:


The Minister of Finance says that we are facing the worst of any of the scenarios that they had been preparing for.

In response the government’s rescue package is bigger than anything I have ever seen.

Here are the headlines of it.  From the Spinoff:

$5.1bn for wage subsidies, available immediately to businesses able to show a 30% decline in revenue compared with the same time last year. For those eligible, employers to be paid $585.80 per week for full time staff, and $350 for part time, capped at $150,000 per business.

$2.8bn income support for most vulnerable New Zealanders, including a permanent $25/week increase for all main benefits and a doubling of the Winter Energy Payment for 2020 to $1400, from April 1. The benefit shift is estimated to affect 350,000 families; the WEP change, 850,000 recipients.

$2.8bn in changes to business tax to free up cashflow, including a provisional tax threshold lift from $2,500 to $5,000, the reinstatement of building depreciation and waiving interest on some late payment of tax.

$126m in COVID-19 leave and self-isolation support. For those unable to work because they are in self-isolation, sick with COVID-19 or caring for dependents in either of these situations. Again, $585.80 per week for full time staff, and $350 for part time.

$100m for redeployment. To support worker redeployment programmes.

$600m aviation support package (Air NZ will be on top of this).

There will be separate support available “for large or complex businesses”.

Yesterday, in concert with many other central banks worldwide, the New Zealand Reserve Bank has slashed its interest rate to banks to .25% for the next 12 months. They were generating soothing noises.

Any hopes that this global pandemic impact would be a one-quarter wonder are gone and there is no V-shaped recovery assumption. We appear to be heading for a world wide recession.

We have to go a fair way back in our political and economic history to a shock that the New Zealand government sought to address head on with this scale of plan. It was the oil shock.

In the climate of the 1978 second oil shock, naturally enough energy policy was the obsession of the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. A set of capital and energy intensive projects were developed by the state and by large New Zealand or foreign corporations with state support, which were collectively known as Think Big.

In response to the first oil shock, the Labour government had established the Energy Research and Development Committee, and in 1977 Muldoon created a new integrated Ministry of Energy. The Minister from the end of 1978 was Bill Birch, who has been described as “a doer who once he has made his mind up on a course of action pursued it with a missionary zeal, never faltering, and relentlessly getting things done as quickly as possible.”

The government also continued to regulate the price of petrol over the decade. They also reduced the top speed limit from 100km/h to 80km/h to increase petroleum use efficiency.

That scale of both capital and operational spending responding to the oil crisis of the late 1970s is what we face through the government announcements today.

With the Provincial Growth Fund unused portion now reallocated to the bailout, the old form of “intervention” through loans and investments has ceased and the new form of wrapping everything they can find around a rapidly weakening economy has commenced.

As I noted in a previous post, the Auckland part of New Zealand’s three-legged stool now has to work to kick us all out of this in 2021. As the food sector pulls out of drought, the tourism sector and the interrelated hospitality sector may possibly never fully recover and will certainly be re-shaped. It will be the events planned for 2021 that will be used to re-boot this third of the economy, just as the Rugby World Cup successfully did after the GFC.

Many of us will feel the economic pain of this crisis. I would call on the handful of families who control the private wealth in New Zealand to do more than survive by supporting their own self interest. Beneficial corporations such as iwi entities should do the same.

This government has gone all-out to soften the impending economic impact of this crisis. They have acted on a scale comparable to one of the greatest crises we have ever faced. I support it.

24 comments on “Is this the next GFC? ”

  1. Sabine 1

    yes. it is.

  2. bill 2

    Aye well. Just like last time, the monstrously idiotic fuckers are propping up the wrong economy and relying on bullshit notions of 'trickle down' to impact the human one.

    Wind down the financial economy – shut down superfluous economic activity. For ever.

    Didn't Jacinda make some pronouncement around climate change and compare it to nuclear? Hmm. Oh look! There goes the can, kicked down the road by team "pretend and extend".

    • Sabine 2.1

      kinder and gentler, like putting on a condom, adding some vaseline and then continuing to screwing the population over with nary a thought about discomfort given.

    • adam 2.2

      When the dominate political parties heads are so far up the arse of Liberalism – did you expect anything else Bill?

      Only corporations matter, and making sure enough people stay afloat so the filthy peasants don't revolt, is the only game in town.

      • bill 2.2.1

        lol No, I expected nothing different. Hey, was that a total of US$2.3 trillion the US government was able to just magic up and throw at their stock market …that just basically disappeared?

        Robertson's idea is fundamentally different….how?

        These people are idiotic fucks who need to be set onto the high seas on some cruise ship that's never allowed to berth.

        • KJT

          For a start, unlike the USA, a lot of the money is going to the bottom end of town, where it won't just disappear into millionaire pockets.

          The wage subsidies capped so they apply to small business, sole traders and employees only, is a particularly good example of a Non, Neo-liberal, policy.

          Refusing to stop the minimum wage increase and putting up welfare shows that the Government actually has more spine, than I expected from recent history.

          • bill

            Unlike the USA which is reportedly on the cusp of sending out US$1000+ cheques to every-one in the US?

            That's just a tad more than the pre-abatement NZ$60 or NZ$70 Robertson has proposed for NZs poorest.

            Tulsi Gabbard proposed ongoing payments of US$1000 alongside other measures. But sure. Since she is the perfect poster child for liberal identity types, liberal identity types have not one good word to say about her or anything she says.

            I'm a poor person and will receive some wholly inadequate tens of dollars, starting in a few weeks time. Thing is, I may well be infected before then and…well, there won't be any well stocked cupboards or anything of any other contingency stuff that relies on $$. And that scenario doesn't alter if I'm infected in a month from now…or in two months from now.

            You think that situation – which will be common as muck across NZ, can be characterised by saying that "a lot of the money is going to the bottom end of town.."?

            Sabine has already run the gauntlet of the brainless tribal wankfucks on this site for having the temerity to point out some obvious shortcomings of Robertson's "rescue plan" from the perspective of a small business owner – ie, wage relief to help pay non-existent workers alongside no relief from regular and ongoing small business costs such as leases/rents/insurance/utilities…

            Fuck. Even Mr Ed "middle of the road" Miliband is suggesting, among a host of other measures, the suspension of payments for rent and utilities.

            Anyway. Bottom line. I can't get my head around the inanity of prioritising the salvation of a theory on how we should do things – not when in practice that theory has facilitated the quick spread of this virus and besides that, it tanks the viability of this planet in terms of human habitation.

            We have an opportunity and a choice to make. And following the lead of the the same desperately dull fucks who continue to advocate for everything that got us here in the first place, won't be an opportunity grasped, and will only (obviously) default to us being swept along their chosen path of "pretend and extend".

            And that doesn't end well.

          • Jim

            "For a start, unlike the USA, a lot of money is going to the bottom end of town, where it wont just disappear into millionaire pockets."

            So the super market barons are doing pretty well lately.

            Tell me do you think the average Beneficiary is going to spend her/his extra dollars in to the supermarkets Barons pocket, or will they spend it Bungy Jumping on a trip to Queenstown or Rotorua where the operators are suffering?

            • KJT

              The minimum wage paying, tax dodging tourism operators, who have been inflicting the costs of all those tourists on the community, while making good profits.

              They have been included in the Government help package, though. So. They are not actually missing out.

              Meanwhile more on welfare can afford decent food, which helps their cognitive abilities, health and general welfare. Meaning they are more likely to be able to contribute to society, and be more resistant to coronavirus.

  3. Muttonbird 3

    Media apocalypse until the politicians blinked.

  4. gsays 4

    So what would be the big infrastructure builds be that would contribute to resilience this time round?

    Pharmaceutical factory? Insulin production. Anti-biotics. Oral contraceptive….

    • A 4.1

      Basic housing? Specifically to those who the current stock does not suit. Plenty to do there.

      • gsays 4.1.1

        True about housing.

        There are at least two good sized sites in west Palmy that have sat empty for many years now. Ideal for housing.

  5. Most airlines in the world will file for bankruptcy sometime in May. (Except of course all the Chinese ones who can be subsidised by a CCP willing to print infinite amounts of money if they wish)

    This can of worms may well suddenly get a whole lot more wriggly if Boeing files for bankruptcy sometime in the second half of this year as the truth comes out about the 737MAX. My bet is that it will never fly commercially again and when airlines sue for hundreds of billions to recover their costs and damages … Boeing may cease to exist as we know it. The US govt may well fund a defense oriented spinoff, but the commercial entity could collapse down to a maintenance operation, leaving airlines almost everywhere with a massive problem.

    • KJT 5.1

      You reckon the USA, won't print "infinite amounts of money" to bail out billionaire shareholders?

      They did for the GFC.

    • Phil 5.2

      Most airlines in the world will file for bankruptcy sometime in May.

      This is complete and utter nonsense, RL.

      Take Air New Zealand as an example. They've got $2.2b of equity on the balance sheet at December 2019. Even if *all* their revenue dried up and *none* of their expenses changed they'd need at least 5-6 months to eat through that equity and be insolvent. Plus, there will be a whole range of business continuity insurance arrangements being triggered and called on to provide financial support.

      They've also got a bunch of enormous aircraft that are assets on the balance sheet, which could be borrowed against to shore up liquidity if short term payables eat through the $1b of cash on hand.

      • RedLogix 5.2.1

        Maybe this is a more nuanced take:

        Sydney-based aviation consultant Peter Harbison, who is chairman of the Centre for Aviation, was among those making headline-catching calls.

        By the end of May-2020, most airlines in the world would be bankrupt, he said, calling for "coordinated government and industry action" to avoid a catastrophe.

        "The likely prospect is that we emerge from this crisis — whenever that might be — with 20 or 30 airlines worldwide," Mr Harbison told ABC News.

        "The airlines that do survive are the ones that governments prop up."

        I agree that Air NZ is probably in a better position than most, but ‘eating through their equity’ is only going to be possible if their bankers let them. And equity is not the same thing as cash in hand.

  6. David Mac 6

    This has the potential to cut deeper than the GFC. It was over a thing, money. This is over people. We were broke at the end of the GFC, this time we're going to funerals.

  7. Ad 7

    Volkswagen have shut their European plants, plus Lamborghini

  8. AB 8

    Is this the new GFC. You'd hope not – instead of a bailout of banks who indulged in a crooked, speculative orgy, it might be a bailout of real, productive businesses and citizens.

  9. Ad 9

    I have a sneaking suspicion the UK and US governments are going to drastically alter their economic support packages once the impact on jobs and tax take hits really become apparent.

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