It’s not us: it’s the big banks

Written By: - Date published: 10:01 am, April 29th, 2013 - 30 comments
Categories: capital gains, capitalism, class war, cost of living, david cunliffe, debt / deficit, economy, gst, kiwisaver, news, russel norman, same old national, spin, thinktank - Tags:

So the big Aussie banks in NZ are on course for showing they have made record profits in their last financial year, according to Richard Meadows on Stuff:

Banking analysts expect record-breaking profits from the ‘Big Four’ Aussie lenders this week, but their local offshoots’ performance may be slightly less dazzling. …

ASB, which follows a different reporting year, has already turned in a $365 million net profit for the six months to December, down 2 per cent from the previous period’s record result. On a normalised basis, which is the bank’s preferred measure, profit rose 7 per cent. …

Across the Tasman, the Australian Financial Review reported that analysts expected the parents of the local banks to book record half-year profits of a collective A$13.2 billion (NZ$16b).

The Sydney Morning Herald reported ANZ and Westpac’s cash earnings were expected to rise 7 per cent from the previous corresponding period, while the underdog NAB was tipped to gain 2 per cent.

Meanwhile, it seems that Kiwis are not the poor savers many politicians and journalists make us out to be.  Apparently this is the conclusion of a report by the policy think tank The New Zealand Initiative (a bunch that prefer “Adam Smith’s invisible hand to government’s visible fist”).  According to  Catherine Harris’s article on Stuff, Kiwis are actually quite good savers:

In fact, New Zealand’s collective savings – from companies, government and households – had been “positive” for 38 of the past 41 years – in other words, its income was greater than its spending on consumption.

The savings figures did not include some forms of debt, though it did feature mortgage interest. But households’ net wealth had also risen.

So does that mean that the original money borrowed for mortgages is not included in the total debt of New Zealanders? Meanwhile, it argues that the problem is government policies that has caused the overall debt, even though it included government savings in NZ’s collective savings. The article claims that lack of saving is not the cause of NZ’s high debt levels:

In fact, the country’s chronically large current account deficit is the legacy of government policies between 1974 and the mid-1980s, says author and institute fellow Bryce Wilkinson.

“It was triggered by large trade deficits in the balance of payments, not least due to spiking oil prices, and exacerbated by the largely ‘Keynesian’ government deficit spending policy response.”

Since then, the large “net international investment position” – the $146 billion difference between assets New Zealanders own overseas and overseas-owned assets in New Zealand – had kept the current account balance in deficit.

I’m confused.  It looks to me like they are trying Harris’s article does not provide support another claim in the lead sentence, that New Zealanders “also fear overseas investment unnecessarily“.  Instead the article ends with reference to statistics that show,

Wilkinson also rejected the idea that Asians were taking over New Zealand. In fact, said the report, as of last year Australians owned 55 per cent of foreign investment in New Zealand, while those from Asean nations owned only 3.1 per cent.

Or is Harris and/or Wilkinson implying that Asean nation are “foreign”, but Australia isn’t?

I would have thought The New Zealand Initiative’s findings show that the (alleged) invisible hand is not stopping the foreign Aussie big banks ripping off Kiwis, and that their report is masking this by excluding some crucial forms of private debt.

Back in 2010, the NAct government launched a Savings working party because of their concerns about Kiwis not saving enough. Labour’s then financial spokesperson, David Cunliffe was skeptical.  An Otago Daily Times article said:

“Having already cut New Zealand Superannuation Fund contributions and gutted KiwiSaver, the terms of reference for the Savings Working Group are now equally disturbing,” he  [Cunliffe] said.

“New Zealanders all know `government savings’ is code for harsh cuts to essential services, `changes to the tax system’ are likely to favour the wealthiest kiwis, and references to `fairness and effectiveness of KiwiSaver’ could mean further gutting of this landmark scheme.”

When the report from the Savings Working group was released in February 2011, as reported by TVNZ, Cunliffe and Russel Norman were critical, arguing that the report put too much focus on cutting government rather than on private debt.

Labour’s finance spokesman David Cunliffe adds that the report also ignored any discussion about the impact of dramatically cutting public services.

Slashing government spending and raising GST would make the recession worse and be unfair to Kiwis, he said.

Russel Norman argued for a Capital Gains Tax (other than for the family home) was essential, in keeping with the Saving’s Group Report that showed that biases in the tax system were contributing to the inflation of house prices.

So, overall, the articles indicate the big Aussie banks are the problem, not kiwis’ inability to save.  this is even though the New Zealand Initiative seems to be trying to skew the findings to support the NAct agenda for golvernment spending cuts.

We need better think tanks – especially, we need left wing alternatives to the current influential think tanks that begin with right wing assumptions about government intervention-bad; multinational corporates-good.

 

30 comments on “It’s not us: it’s the big banks”

  1. One Anonymous Knucklehead 1

    Left-wing think tanks are called universities.

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      No. Universities as institutions are doing only a fair to mediocre job of acting as the social and political conscience of NZ society.

      And the economics/finance departments are generally doing a pretty shite job. But in order for academics in those fields to get grants and to get papers pubished in the major journals (and hence promotions), you basically have to follow an orthodox neoliberal framework.

      If I were to be blunt, I’d argue that universities are not fulfilling the role that NZ society needs today; just what the imaginary market and its current funding models need.

    • Murray Olsen 1.2

      Not at all. Plenty of right wing rubbish comes out of universities, as well as some left wing analysis. This shows that they support a diversity of inquiry, unlike think tanks which normally support thinking in support of a well defined position. For example, if one has liberty or freedom in the title, it’s likely to support harsher prison sentences, surveillance without legal safeguards, interference in the bedroom, and state invasion of women’s lady parts.

      • One Anonymous Knucklehead 1.2.1

        The Right needs its own facts: the Left does not. Universities foster inquiry. No think tank is ever going to match their resources.

  2. DH 2

    “Saving’s Group Report that showed that biases in the tax system were contributing to the inflation of house prices”

    Unfortunately the problem goes a little deeper than that. I don’t know how many here have read Milton Friedman but his monetarist theory is the basis for how NZ controls inflation.

    A simple monetary view is inflation occurs when the money supply increases faster than economic growth. Bank lending is the cause of the money supply growing so the RBNZ are the ones charged with keeping growth in the money supply closely aligned with growth in GDP to prevent inflation. They do that by controlling the price of money – interest rates. Basic economic theory says that if interest rates go up the demand for borrowed money will fall leading to a slowdown in the growth of the money supply.

    The housing inflation is proof the RBNZ haven’t properly controlled growth in the money supply because house prices can’t go up without it (well they could, but only if there was a corresponding fall in prices elsewhere in the market and that hasn’t occured.)

    The subject is quite complex because the mortgage lending generates economic growth, it just doesn’t create enough growth in GDP to offset the increasing money supply.

    IMO Greens & Labour are tinkering at the edges too much & need to get to the source of the problem. CGT and tax won’t reduce mortgage lending, if anything they’ll increase it.

    • Saarbo 2.1

      DH,
      A question: In the basket of goods and services that make up CPI, do you know how much is made up of “housing”?

      I get the impression it is under represented.

      • DH 2.1.1

        Yup, your impression is correct. Can download CPI data here;

        http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/economic_indicators/CPI_inflation/info-releases.aspx

        They use a weighting format. Weighting can be viewed as a percentage, ie a weighting of 10 would represent roughly 10% of household spending. They adjust the results further by population/area weightings but that makes only a very minor change to the numbers. The CPI is made up of groups and sub-groups, 2011 weightings by group are;

        Food – 8.79
        Alcoholic beverages and tobacco – 6.91
        Clothing and footwear – 4.42
        Housing and household utilities – 23.55
        Household contents and services – 4.44
        Health – 5.44
        Transport – 15.12
        Communication – 3.53
        Recreation and culture – 9.12
        Education – 1.84
        Miscellaneous goods and services – 6.85

        Housing and household utilities includes only the cost of a new house which I’m pretty sure doesn’t include the price of land. That group has the following sub-group weightings that make up the total of 23.55;

        Actual rentals for housing – 8.78
        Purchase of new housing – 4.01
        Property maintenance materials – 0.61
        Property maintenance services – 2.96
        Water supply – 0.26
        Refuse disposal and recycling – 0.14
        Local authority rates and payments – 2.32
        Other property related services – 0.03
        Electricity – 3.91
        Gas – 0.43
        Solid fuels – 0.11

        An example of calculating it; say you have inflation in rentals of 10%. You’d multiply that by it’s weighting of 8.78% which makes 0.878 and would add 0.878 points to the CPI.

        From the publics POV the CPI is a total con job but people aren’t good at figuring out this sort of stuff so no-one really understands it.

  3. JonL 3

    Interesting.

    In the latest Eurobarometer poll
    Large majorities across Europe support:
    – the introduction of a tax on financial transactions (71%)
    – tighter rules for credit rating agencies (79%)
    – a tax on profits made by banks (83%)
    – tighter rules on tax avoidance and tax havens (61%)
    70% wish to see a stronger EU role in regulating the financial services industry and 76% want to see stronger EU coordination of economic policy.
    Tellingly only 39% of the population believe that reducing public deficits and debt are the answer to the economic crisis.

    Are there any similar polls in NZ?

    • infused 3.1

      Probably not since we didn’t get fucked like Europe did.

      • felix 3.1.1

        …thanks to the previous govt using budget surpluses to pay off our debt and leave the books in good shape. According to Bill English, that is.

        Guess it’s a good thing they didn’t listen to you and your mates bleating at them for years to spend those surpluses on tax cuts, eh?

        • infused 3.1.1.1

          It doesn’t matter, Labour spent it all in the end anyway.

          • Pascal's bookie 3.1.1.1.1

            But like you say, we weren’t fucked like Eurp.

            Say, who reckoned we should be more like Ireland leading in to the GFC?

          • felix 3.1.1.1.2

            Labour left us with no debt, confused. You and your mob wanted them to leave us with a massive debt.

            I think that matters quite a lot.

  4. MrSmith 4

    Great piece Karol and wish I had time to write something in reply, DH is on the money though.

  5. dumrse 5

    Labour had no hesitation in telling us they would nationalise the Power so, why not Nationalise the Banks. Think about it, the fat profits could be used to repay the purchase price and the next decade will contribute to the economy. Don’t forget, you heard about it here first.

  6. MrSmith 6

    “So the big Aussie banks in NZ are on course for showing they have made record profits in their last financial year, according to Richard Meadows on Stuff:”

    The thing that most people don’t understand is that accounting has a lot of grey areas, and the right like it that way, now if you are an Aussie bank do you think you would employ your brothers, sisters, uncles son, who you were told is good at maths to do your accounts? No you will likely pull some of that tax deductible freshly printed money out and employ the best fuckin accountant money can buy and when I say the best, I don’t mean the most moralistic, I mean the one that will make me the most money, accounting is just another game, the government sets the rules and if you want to win at this game, so like most sports you push the limits, until you get caught breaking the rules, then you say your sorry and hope the gains outweigh the losses.

    The Aussie banks will be cooking their books, you can bet on it, for the tax department to take on this lot will mean a large swallow, and lets face it the Nat’s put the dogs on the chains 4 years ago.

    Interesting listening to our former prime minister Boldger rewriting history on RadioNZ the other day, saying he had some regrets, meaning when he first came to power that selling our banking system to the Aussie’s, was his greatest regret, thanks a lot Jim, Jim you will go down in history as the Man that sold NZ to Australia.

    Boy and Girls we would be far better off becoming another state of Australia now! sorry but the game is up kids, at-least we would get decent wages and conditions, think about it, swallow your pride and ask to become part of Austrila or shut the fuck up about being Australia’s bum boys, bend over and pay the rent, they own us now, thanks Jim.

  7. MrSmith 7

    Going Bush tomorrow Karol but no doubt Draco will show up and DH needs to write more on this, hope to get back to this later tomorrow when the traps are out.

  8. MrSmith 8

    “Meanwhile, it seems that Kiwis are not the poor savers many politicians and journalists make us out to be.  Apparently this is the conclusion of a report by the policy think tank The New Zealand Initiative (a bunch that prefer “Adam Smith’s invisible hand to government’s visible fist”).  According to  Catherine Harris’s article on Stuff, Kiwis are actually quite good savers:”

    I have know idea what or who’s behind the New Zealand Initiative, call me a sceptic, rewriting history is like religion, just interpretation, and every man and his dog, like the New Zealand Initiative seem to be rewriting history at the moment.

    Read this recently by Noam Chomsky on Adam Smith. http://www.greanvillepost.com/2013/04/11/education-is-ignorance-discovering-the-real-adam-smith/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%253A+TheGreanvillePost+%2528The+Greanville+Post%2529

    • Pascal's bookie 8.1

      New Zealand Initiative is Business Roundtable 2.0

    • karol 8.2

      Here is the link to Wilkinson’s full NZ Initiative report. This is what it says “About the Author”

      Prior to setting up economics consultancy Capital Economics in 1997, Bryce Wilkinson was a director of Credit Suisse First Boston in New Zealand (now First NZ Capital). Before moving into investment banking in 1985, he worked in the New Zealand Treasury, reaching the position of director. Bryce has a strong background in public policy analysis, including monetary policy, capital market research and microeconomic advisory work. He was a member of the government’s Regulatory Responsibility Taskforce, the 2025 Taskforce and the ACC Stocktake Group and was acting executive director of the New Zealand Business Roundtable for a short period in late 2011 and early 2012.

      Bryce holds a PhD in economics from the University of Canterbury and was a Harkness Fellow at Harvard University.

  9. infused 9

    Yes it is us. We are the ones spending their money. They won’t make a profit if you are not borrowing…

  10. tracey 10

    Wasnt the main advisor to bush vis a vis the bank bailouts the former head of goldman sachs?

Links to post

Leave a Comment

Show Tags

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Nats’ housing policy fails to keep pace with population growth
    Auckland got less than half the new houses it needed in the past year to keep up with record population growth, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    3 hours ago
  • Urgent action needed on dirty rivers
    The Our Fresh Water Environment 2017 report re-confirms that we need urgent action to clean up our rivers. Meanwhile, National is standing by as our rivers get even more polluted, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson David Parker. “This report is yet ...
    1 day ago
  • Where there’s smoke and mirrors, there’s Steven Joyce
    Steven Joyce’s much vaunted pre-Budget speech is simply an underwhelming response to the infrastructure deficit National has created, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Steven Joyce has belatedly come to the realisation that everyone else has a long time ago, ...
    1 day ago
  • Time to stamp out cold, mouldy rentals
    New figures show a small number of landlords are letting down the sector by renting cold, mouldy rentals. These houses need to be brought up to a decent standard for people to live in by Andrew Little’s Healthy Homes Bill, ...
    2 days ago
  • Time for fresh approach on immigration
    Latest figures showing another record year for immigration underlines the need for an urgent rethink on how this country can continue to absorb so many people, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “New Zealand needs immigrants and is all the better ...
    2 days ago
  • Bring back the Mental Health Commission
    The People’s Mental Health Review is a much needed wake up call for the Government on mental health, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.   “I applaud their proposal to restore a Mental Health Commission and their call for ...
    4 days ago
  • And the band played on…
    Making Amy Adams the Housing Minister five months out from the election is just the orchestra playing on as National’s Titanic housing crisis slips below the waves – along with the hopes and dreams of countless Kiwi families, says Labour’s ...
    4 days ago
  • Hotel no place for children in care
    ...
    1 week ago
  • Maybe not, Minister? Nick Smith’s housing measure suppressed
    Sir Humphrey: Minister, remember the Housing Affordability Measure work you asked us to prepare back in 2012? Well, it’s ready now.Minister Smith: Oh goodie, what does it say?Sir Humphrey: Nothing.Minister Smith: Nothing?Sir Humphrey: Well, sir, you asked us to prepare ...
    1 week ago
  • Inflation data shows many New Zealanders are worse off under National
    The latest inflation data from Statistics New Zealand shows that too many New Zealanders are now worse off under the National Government, said Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson “Consumer Price Inflation (CPI) is now running at 2.2 per cent, and ...
    1 week ago
  • Another emergency housing grant blow out
      Emergency housing grants data released today show another blow out in spending on putting homeless people up in motels, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.   ...
    1 week ago
  • Families struggle as hardship grants increase
    The considerable increase in hardship grants shows that more and more Kiwi families are struggling to put food on the table and pay for basic schooling, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. ...
    1 week ago
  • More tinkering, no leadership from Nats on immigration
    National’s latest tinkering with the immigration system is another attempt to create the appearance of action without actually doing anything meaningful, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    1 week ago
  • Suicide figures make for grim reading
    The 506 suspected suicides of Kiwis who have been in the care of mental health services in the last four years show that these services are under severe stress, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark.   “If you do the ...
    1 week ago
  • Pay equity deal a victory for determination and unions
    The pay equity settlement revealed today for around 55,000 low-paid workers was hard-won by a determined Kristine Bartlett backed by her union, up against sheer Government resistance to paying Kiwis their fair share, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “Labour welcomes ...
    1 week ago
  • DHB’s forced to make tough choices
    The Minister of Health today admitted that the country’s District Health Boards were having to spend more than their ring fenced expenditure on Mental Health, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark.   “The situation is serious with Capital and Coast ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Nats break emergency housing pledge – deliver just five more places
    Despite National’s promises of 2,200 emergency housing beds, just 737 were provided in the March Quarter, an increase of only five from six months earlier, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Research underlines need for KiwiBuild
    New research showing the social and fiscal benefits of homeownership underlines the need for a massive government-backed building programme like KiwiBuild, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Social data security review too little, too late
    The independent review into the Ministry of Social Development’s individual client level data IT system is too little, too late, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. “The Minister of Social Development has finally seen some sense and called for ...
    2 weeks ago
  • More questions raised on CERA conflicts
    With the admission that three more former CERA staff members are under suspicion of not appropriately managing conflicts of interest related to the Canterbury rebuild, it’s imperative that CERA’s successor organisation Ōtākaro fronts up to Parliamentary questions, says Labour’s Canterbury ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour to tackle Hutt housing crisis
    Labour will build a mix of 400 state houses and affordable KiwiBuild homes in the Hutt Valley in its first term in government to tackle the housing crisis there, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “Housing in the Hutt ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Farewell to John Clarke
    This wonderfully talented man has been claimed by Australia, but how I remember John Clarke is as a young Wellington actor who performed satirical pieces in a show called “Knickers” at Downstage Theatre. The show featured other future luminaries like ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Valedictory Speech
    Te papa pounamu Aotearoa NZ Karanga karanga karanga; Nga tupuna Haere haere haere; Te kahui ora te korowai o tenei whare; E tu e tu ... tutahi tonu Ki a koutou oku hoa mahi ki Te Kawanatanga; Noho mai noho ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Buck stops with Gerry Brownlee
    The fact that the State Services Commission has referred the CERA conflict of interest issue to the Serious Fraud Office is a positive move, but one that raises serious questions about the Government’s oversight of the rebuild, says Labour Canterbury ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Teachers deserve a democratic Education Council
    Teachers around New Zealand reeling from the news that their registration fees could more than double will be even angrier that the National Government has removed their ability to have any say about who sits on the Council that sets ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Free trade backers are simply out of touch
    Are the backers of free trade out of touch with public opinion? This was the question asked when the Chartered Accountants launched their Future of Trade study. I was astonished by the answer in a room of free trade enthusiasts ...
    GreensBy Barry Coates
    3 weeks ago
  • John Clarke aka Fred Dagg will be missed by all Kiwis
    The man who revolutionised comedy on both sides of the Tasman, John Clarke, will be sadly missed by Kiwis and Aussies alike, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.   “I grew up with Fred Dagg and I am ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Labour’s modern approach to monetary policy
    A commitment to full employment and a more transparent process to provide market certainty are the hallmarks of Labour’s proposals for a new approach to monetary policy, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Greens back Labour’s plan for monetary policy reform
    Labour plans to change the way we do monetary policy in New Zealand and the Green Party supports them fully. We’re now of a single mind on this. Labour will move away from our reliance on a single, unelected person ...
    GreensBy robert.ashe
    3 weeks ago
  • Greens back Labour’s monetary policy reform
    Labour plans to change the way we do monetary policy in New Zealand and the Green Party supports them fully. We’re now of a single mind on this. Labour will move away from our reliance on a single, unelected person ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    3 weeks ago
  • Govt drops ball on Masters Games housing squeeze
    Families currently living in emergency accommodation face being forced out onto the street as motel accommodation in Auckland is filled up by contestants and visitors of the World Masters Games in coming weeks, says Labours social development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • State inquiry for Nga Morehu – The Survivors of State Abuse
    The Prime Minister must show humanitarian leadership and launch an independent inquiry into historic claims of abuse of children who were in State care, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Jacinda Ardern. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Coleman – ‘overwhelmed by disinterest’ and ‘conked out’
    Today’s trenchant criticism of the Government’s health policy by Ian Powell the executive director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists must trigger action by the Minister, says Labour’s spokesperson for Health David Clark. ...
    3 weeks ago