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Labour is the party of economic competence

Written By: - Date published: 7:10 am, August 17th, 2015 - 147 comments
Categories: economy, grant robertson, Steven Joyce - Tags: , , , ,

The old myth that National are good managers of the economy should now be well dead and buried. By any realistic assessment of the records of the last two governments, Labour is the party of economic competence.

Labour: 9 surplus budgets, paid down net government debt to zero, established the Cullen fund, KiwiSaver, KiwiBank and emissions trading scheme, low unemployment, negotiated a successful free trade agreement with China, and so on.

National: 7 deficit budgets (so far), ran up record government debt, sold productive assets, made significant losses by cutting Cullen fund contributions, gutted the emissions scheme, got taken for a ride by Hollywood, Sky City and Rio Tinto, higher unemployment, is negotiating a disastrous TPP, and more.

Here’s a more recent case study. Before the election last year Grant Robertson and Steven Joyce discussed the economy on The Nation. Robertson warned about falling dairy prices, Joyce was arrogant and dismissive. Here’s a transcript:


To get the full effect of the sneering Joyce you really need to see the video here. In the event of course Robertson was correct, and a year later Joyce looks like a fool.

Labour needs to highlight the issue of economic competence next election (with any luck the media will do their job too and fairly present the facts). It is supposed to be a core National strength, but any clothes that emperor ever had are long gone now. National is vulnerable.

147 comments on “Labour is the party of economic competence ”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    In the event of course Robertson was correct, and a year later Joyce looks like a fool.

    It didn’t take a year – Joyce always looked like a fool. Unfortunately, you can fool some people some of the time and so we ended up with a National government screwing us over.

  2. dv 2

    Don’t forget the billion for SCF!!!

  3. infused 3

    Repeating this nonsense doesn’t make it true.

    Labour inherited an economic bubble which went in to recession before anyone else in the world.

    Labour increased govt spending by 50% with very little impact.

    Labour bought kiwirail at 3x the price and it’s a shitter. If Labour was so good at economics and managing money, they should never have bought kiwirail at that price. Even Toll were laughing about it.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1

      Cullen got nine surpluses because Bill “this is the rainy day the government has been saving up for” English. Are you really so pathetically gullible?

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1

        Yes, he is along with every other supporter of National. They also seem to have a maximum memory span of about three months which is why National can lie to them so easily.

      • Wensleydale 3.1.2

        He’s not gullible. He just can’t bear to be so violently disabused of his delusional world-view. He’s got too much invested in it. It’s quite sad when you think about it.

    • dv 3.2

      NZ debt
      NZ$ 101,454,947,258

      Well done Nats

    • adam 3.3

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Infused, your understanding of economics is weak, not as bad as PR – but still weak.

      Side show issues, and bluster don’t keep an economy going. As we have learnt from national once again. But, if idiots like you like side shows, bluster and a failing economy.

      Feel free, to carry on.

    • Response 3.4

      This old myth again; the reason you don’t remember the Asian financial crisis Labor steered us through despite the importance to us of trade with that region is because they made it relatively painless, not because it didn’t happen and didn’t effect Australia, our major trade partner.

      In contrast, the GFC had relatively low impact on both China and Australia, our major trading parters at the time. Our biggest trading partner is Australia, and they were the only country in the world not to go into recession in the wake of the GFC.

      If the government did nothing but hold tight, we’d have sailed through the choppy waters and come out not much worse off. Instead this government sold off our best performing assets (and destroyed one entirely), stopped payments to the Cullen fund (probably the government’s most expensive blunder) and built a cycle path while letting government debt get out of control despite doing everything from nearly destroying MFAT in a desperate money saving bid that undermined morale and lost top talent and had to be eventually aborted because the fat the government’s ideology demands must exist wasn’t actually there (the service truly was already efficient thanks to Labor’s management) to taxing paper kids on their paper round money (of all the pinching, grubbing desperate bids to balance the budget……)

      This government is economically and financially incompetent. They constantly make short term decisions that cost end fail to produce the promised short term gain and which come at disproportionate long term cost in any case. They’re so desperate to buddy up to business to prove what great pragmatists they are, that they make stupid short sighted deals and then are at the mercy of the likes of Sky City Harrahs to play nice and dictate terms to us as pay back for the multiple concessions these deals already oblige us to deliver.

      Their egos are bigger then their expertise; they have plenty of ideas premised entirely on ideology rather than a sound assessment of the current relevant circumstances and they’re the kind of ideas that even if and when they can work in practice, these people are simply incompetent to deliver. Take Serco – why would you choose a company that has a track record of problems overseas, fail to implement any real quality assessment then be surprised when the exact same problems proven to already happen in Serco institutions internationally all happen here? You wouldn’t do that if you were competent, right? This government did.

      Would you decide to improve education by handing private entities a bunch of money to keep if their school fails, then paying them for a whole year for every student who enrolls even if they leave the school the day after the school year begins? This government did. Really the list of their incompetence could go on and on and on. The predictions of exactly what will happen if they implement their policy coming to pass again and again and again, and the list of excuses from the numblies – the GFC, hindsight, and “it’s the usual detractors”. The evidence stands; this government is financially and economically incompetent and has no sense for business at all.

      • dv 3.4.1

        AND the tax cuts

      • James Last 3.4.2

        So any old fool could have navigated NZ through the GFC yet Cullen – who was in charge during the best economic times of a generation – was some sort of genius. Yeah, right.

        The only reason Australia didn’t go into recession was because at the time China was prepared to pay over the odds for its minerals, particularly iron ore. Now that’s stopped and chickens are coming home to roost. I know which country I’d rather be in now.

        No government is perfect, but this one has done a pretty decent job all things considered.

        By the way, Harrahs casino became Sky City 20 years ago. Keep up.

        • Marcus

          So any old fool could have navigated NZ through the GFC – You,above comment.
          Except Bill English & John Key.
          They couldn’t navigate their way out of running a corner dairy broke.

    • Reality 3.5

      Remember when rail was bought and sold by private enterprise a couple of times and they let it run down to be a heap of junk? It was Labour that bought it, so that we at least still had a rail system.

      • James Last 3.5.1

        Yes, and KiwiRail was such a spectacular investment for the taxpayer, wasn’t it?

    • Ad 3.6

      – NZSuper
      – Working For Families
      – Kiwisaver
      – Fonterra formation
      – Split Telecom
      – Rail electrification across Auckland
      – Winning Rugby World Cup bid
      – China FTA
      = A well-harvested economic boom in NZ’s long-term interests

    • Marcus 3.7

      National gave top earner & corporate tax cuts during a global financial crisis instead of investing in infrastructure to create jobs & increase spending within the economy.
      Now their chickens are coming home to roost, John Key is talking about borrowing more to invest in infrastructure.
      Only problem is…..the horse has bolted John & you’re already over 100 billion in the crapper largely due to those unnecessary tax cuts you gave earlier.
      Add to that this government have not had a surplus in 7 years, even after selling down 49% of our major power companies & Air New Zealand.

  4. les 4

    our leader has a safe pair of hands though…M.Lewis…Liars Poker….’Lewis attributed the bond traders’ and salesmen’s behavior to the fact that the trading pit required neither finesse nor advanced financial knowledge, but, rather, the ability and desire to exploit others’ weaknesses, to intimidate others into listening to traders and salesmen, and the ability to spend hours a day screaming orders under high pressure situations. He referred to their worldview as “The Law of the Jungle.”

    He also noted that, although most arrivals on Wall Street had studied economics, this knowledge was never used; in fact, any academic knowledge was frowned on by traders.’

  5. The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 5

    How would Labour diversify away from dairy?

    Would they command dairy farmers off their land? Require them to turn themselves into luxury boat builders or software developers?

    This is the very point of the market economy. The market has sent a price signal. People will do something else if there’s no money in dairy. There is no need for Robertson to command dairy farmers to go into steel production in accordance with a five year plan.

    • Weepus beard 5.1

      This is so typical of the current governments approach to the economy…

      …do nothing and hope.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.2

      The market has sent a price signal.

      And that price signal is: Farmers, get off your land and become technologists.

      Unfortunately, neither the farmers nor National are listening.

      People will do something else if there’s no money in dairy.

      The really big problem there is that we’ve a) cut all support for students so that those people can’t change even if they wanted to and b) allow foreign companies to buy up our businesses and then they take all the tech that was developed offshore.

      We don’t win doing that.

      There is no need for Robertson to command dairy farmers to go into steel production in accordance with a five year plan.

      That seems to be working for China, Korea, and many other nations. Hell, it even worked for the US. What’s not working is leaving it to the bludging rich under a ‘free-market’.

    • lprent 5.3

      They do exactly what Labour was doing with other areas like the tech and tech manufacturing side. They looked for infrastructural problems and clear them. The detail work they did in the 00s allowed a lot of companies to go through being startups and out exporting. The change from the 1990s scrabble to get out in the world to the much easier support of the 00s was just startling.

      National cut essentially all funding and support to startups and tossed it instead into companies that could fund their own expansions. On the way through they crippled MFAT in their trade role of supporting startup exporting companies.

      Consequently over the last 6 years we haven’t seen many if any small tech companies emerge. We have instead just see the ones already there growing. That is nice, but completely short term.

      Even there they screwed up. They removed R&D tax credits and used that to provide a slush funds for rewarding their friends with some rather inept inducements.

      The effect is that we have a growing tech sector with nothing growing behind it to increase the overall size.

      Similarly in the agricultural and forestry sectors over two successive terms in office, they have dumped most of the R&D that used to go into that sector.

      What I’d do is stop looking for the quick buck and start developing a longer term approach. Markets provide short-term signals in established markets. They are almost completely useless in markets that are nascent or innovative. For those you need active planning.

      Even economic idiots like yourself should know this just by reading history. Entire strong industries have been brought into being by state interventions and flourished for centuries.

      Farming in NZ is just one example, just read back to the history of farming and forestry here. State interventions everywhere using market signals, and non-interventionist open markets coming later. It is one of the most effective ways to start doing things that are new.

      • Ad 5.3.1

        Agree particularly with your second to last paragraph.

        But dairy is here to stay.
        The pointed question for any government must be:
        how can dairy be transformed in the interests of New Zealand?

        The New Zealand public sector still does have the instruments to alter this.

        • lprent

          Yeah, dairy is here for the foreseeable future. It should be that it shouldn’t be the only thing that the government hangs it hat on. It is essentially a bulk commodity with little intellectual property in it – ie subject to vast commodity swings of revenue and profit. It has virtually no employment prospects. It also seems to damage its environment to the point where dairy appears unsustainable for more than a few decades in many regions. It is capital intensive in a country that doesn’t have enough capital.

          Basically it is a lousy industry for our economy.

          We need to build up 10 other industries to counterweight it (assuming that half of those fail over the medium term). Of course that involves brain work and appears to be something that National are lacking.

      • RedLogix 5.3.2

        We’ve often compared NZ with Finland on various social issues – but rarely have we talked about the Finnish political willingness for government to invest in major industry. Often with remarkable results.

        We have Fonterra as an essentially government sponsored co-operative. It has attained world scale and while it’s fortunes a gloomy at the moment – that should not diminish the accomplishment.

        Finland has the following companies – all of which have attained global scale in the industrial sector:

        Kone: elevators and escalators
        Konecranes: lifting equipment

        Metso: equipment and services for process industries
        Outotec: mineral and metals processing technology

        Vacon: variable-speed AC drives
        Valmet: industrial equipment (massive high tech company)

        VR: rail transport
        Wärtsilä: power plants and marine propulsion systems

        Nokia Networks : telecommunication networks (despite the Microsoft debacle the rest of the company still works fine)

        All of these are companies who I’ve personally worked with or used their products at some time, to me they are ‘household names’. The full list of world scale entities is even longer.

        Now compare this with NZ – we cannot manage even one organisation of similar scale – except perhaps for Zero.

        More here:


        • lprent

          Exactly. But more importantly they seldom invested in particular companies. They invested in economic sectors and helped lift small companies into the international marketplaces.

          • RedLogix

            I should have chosen my words more carefully above. You are right – the trend has been to indirectly invest in the sector, in terms of education, incentives and support – rather than direct shareholdings.

            But they were prepared to try and ‘pick winners’ by giving them all the support they needed – and that partial list above is a damned impressive day at the races so to speak.

            • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell

              We did Sovereign Yachts.


              • lprent

                Yep. Unfortunate that companies fail, but that is why you start a lot of them, preferably smaller ones – so they can die early enough to not be too expensive.

                Basically you’re playing the odds. In the case Sovereign they were too leveraged to withstand a downturn in their markets.

                But if you look at the economic sector rather than mypoically peering at single instances, there are a pile of other companies that arose not so much to build superyachts (a business that is fraught with downturns) but to upgrade and maintain them. This is the reason Auckland has a yacht freighter that seems to be in harbour a lot of the time in our summer dropping boats off and returning them. It is also why some of the bigger ones (they look like liners in size) come in under their own steam.

                A very useful export sector and one that largely survived the GFC. You should have been able to find that out if you’d looked past your failures and a economic bigot.

                The government’s role is to identify winning sectors, not winning firms. Then support those sectors into a cluster (like the Waitemata harbor) and then assist them in marketing the products and sills offshore. There was remarkably little direct investment over the last decade or two in a sector that is a nice wee earner for us now, and it is also a sector with quite a lot of direct and indirect employment.

                Perhaps you should look for another example?

                • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell

                  “You should have been able to find that out if you’d looked past your failures and a economic bigot.”

                  How do you look past a bigot?

                  And you really are going to have to learn when to use “an”. It’s a very useful word. We’ve had to discuss this before.

                  “The government’s role is to identify winning sectors, not winning firms.” Is giving the guy who owned Sovereign Yachts (not even the company) $11m of land for $500k a good example of identifying a winning sector?

                  • Gabby

                    I guess Mr Lloyd will claim that Mr Lloyd shouldn’t have onsold the land to Mr Lloyd’s other company without Mr Lloyd’s knowledge. It will involve hats.

                  • lprent

                    And as usual you ignored everything I actually said. Instead went and into puerile pedant mode. Otherwise known as a Gormless fool…

                    Clearly you aren’t worth discussing much with apart from pedantic observations about your lacks.

                    • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell

                      You’ve changed, man.

                      And if you want to pass off as pedantry the fact that the government gave $11m to a private individual, I think (to be a pedant) you are unfamiliar with how this word is used.

                      So much anger. I will fight it with love.


                    • lprent []

                      Fight it with whatever you like. However some intelligence would be welcomed.

                      The rest of your statement is essentially crap.

                      1. The land was brought in 2000. From memory the deal was actually stitched up by the National government and inherited by Labour. It was for 4.3 ha or essentially bare land at the old airbase.

                      2. What was the valuation of the Hobsonville land in 2000? Well less than $1 millon because that was before the Hobsonville project took off or was even really considered. Sovereign were a single company being bribed into the area to help start that process (and thereby raise the value of the rest of the airbase). They probably got the land at a discount. But that discount was probably well below $500k. You’d probably have to do an OIA to find the valuation report. But essentially the land in Hobsonville in 2000 was only really worth lifestyle farmland costs. Some friend sold a 5ha block up around there with a house for something like $600k in 1999.

                      3. 2005

                      Waitakere City Council agreed to back Mr Lloyd’s proposed marine park. In June 2005 the council’s property development arm, Waitakere Properties, entered an agreement with Hudson Bay Holdings to subdivide the company’s land and then buy just over 3ha of the site for $7.65m.

                      4. Waitakere council also entered into an agreement to buy the whole site for $15.2 million in 2008 if they failed to finish the subdivide.

                      The point is that your and the NBR’s figure of $11 million is complete crap. It was probably worth $500k – maybe $1 million in 2000. However it was in a development zone with improvements going on all of the time. The value of the land went up because there are 4 sq km of land under development, of which 4.3ha is a drop in a bucket.

                      The rest of that area, including all intervening point, gained in value as both motorways between the crossover SH18 got planned or were completed. SH18 got improved, in part because of having more business at its midpoint.

                      If the government had held on to the property, then yes they could have done all of that. But they didn’t because they already had far too much to do, and so did Waitakere council.

                      Basically you and the NBR are just gormless fools running with that story, and obviously too lazy to actually look up what was going on.


    • dukeofurl 5.4

      You dont send the elected ECan members packing in order to install a junta and allow wholesale stealing of natural water supply to ramp up dairy production ( for mostly unsuitable dairy country). of course the water doesnt ‘disappear’ it just returns to the waterways polluted.

      Who is the command economy party now ? And an undemocratic one at that.

    • Ad 5.5

      Wrong question.

      Right question is: How would Labour diversify dairy from low to high value products and services?

      • dukeofurl 5.5.1

        You are just talking buzz words. Have you worked on a farm, or a dairy factory or even involved in sales for dairy products.

        Historically cheese and milk powder were high value products!. Dairy factories once took only the cream for making cheese and the milk was used to feed pigs. The only places taking all the milk supply were for ‘town supply’.

        I repeat again milk is a perishable commodity, in a day its lost unless turned quickly into a higher value product- milk powder ( which is able to be stored).

        Please give more answers rather than repeating buzz word questions you get from wtaching TV without being near a farm, factory or international market

        • Ad

          Well Duke, I am pretty closely familiar with both the restructure that led to the formation of Fonterra, and also closely familiar with the Fast Forward Fund, which was the last time any government tried to form a comprehensive commercial and R&D engagement with the dairy industry.


          Trying to tell me that milk spoils and “we used to be rich on butter” is pathetic. You don’t appear to have any knowledge at all about how the dairy industry could or should add value to its products, nor any knowledge about how central government engages with the dairy industry currently.

          If you had any policy capacity, you would be able to helpfully outline a policy idea that could help decrease New Zealand’s risk to dairy as a commodity.

          Go for it, if you can.

          • dukeofurl

            At last you have made some points, but it does confirm my suspicions that you have spent a career making cryptic comments that make you sound smart but are meaningless and put the onus on others to have ‘ideas’ while you are safely putting your footsteps in the marks made by others by following ‘process’.

            Unfortunately NZ politics hasnt been well served by people of your ilk, viz the timber industry. It was supposed to be an enormous opportunity when talked in about in the 80s, the coming ‘wall of wood’ that with processing to add value would make us rich.
            When in lived in major wood processing town recently, even the saw mills which used to do the most basic processing’ were shutting down as all the market wanted -and got- was raw logs.

            Sounds like we are in the same track with dairying, same people same mistakes. Because they are following the ‘same process’

            • Ad

              So, to spell it out for you, since you like simple words not really freaky words with multiple syllables.


              1 kilo, uncreamed, no source. $14 at a market

              1 kilo, creamed, sourced, labelled, well marketed. $18 at supermarket

              1 kilo, Manuka, low Unique factor. $18-$25 at souvenir store

              1 kilo, Manuka, high unique factor, provable source,
              reputable company, $35-$60

              1 kilo, (as above), into cosmetic creams, $120-$300 per kilo

              1 kilo, (as above), into anti-bacterial cream or bandage, $400-$700 per kilo

              Winner: Comvita. NZ Company.

              Now do the counterfactual for Fonterra.
              Or is counterfactual too long a word for you?

              • RedLogix

                Fonterra does actually have a very remarkably long list of specified products it can make from milk. Over a 1000 I was once told. Milk can be thought of as ‘white crude’ – and like it’s black cousin is a remarkably versatile feed-stock into a wide range of chemical and materials processes.

                Certainly in the early days of Fonterra there was considerable investment and attention being paid to these high value niche products. Then something changed about 10 years ago and the focus shifted to the massive bulk powder driers. (They are remarkable machines and very high end process tech involved incidentally.)

                For sometime now Fonterra has weighted itself to bulk commodity powder – and the end result has been pretty predictable really.

                • Ad

                  Exactly. And the comparison to oil is apt.

                  An oil company brings in crude oil, and through a catalytic converter refines it into different octanes for different industrial uses, at different prices. Fonterra is still too much a crude product retailer.

                  Fonterra’s building of its higher value-added consumer businesses has been sucked away through concentration on infant formula. Instead of trying to compete hard against the likes of Danone and Nestle, they are instead being driven by the cost of servicing the construction and maintenance of massive milk drying facilities.

                  Fonterra is driven by servicing the debt within its Asset Management Plans, like any other bulk utility. It will take them a decade to pull away from the momentum of this plant debt servicing. Exactly the path they have headed from the beginning, and the wrong one.

                  • RedLogix

                    Thanks. Last I worked for a Fonterra site was around 2002 so I’ve no specific inside view since then to offer, but what you are saying confirms what I suspected.

                    Back then the company was all about extracting the highest value from the raw milk – and as much as I admire the high technology in the bulk powder driers – it seems they just built too many. Even now I see they are still building them:


                    • dukeofurl

                      Milk powder driers- what you have to do as a minimum to make a product that will last more than 36 hours and can be stored indefinitely.

                      One thing Im not sure about, during the boom wasnt Fonterra holding a lot of powder back from the market, filling up warehouses in the Waikato and other places, so they could make more money as the price ratcheted up year by year. ‘Shorting the supply’ seemed to work as a kind of leverage as it drove up the prices.

                      of course that sort of trading bites you twice as hard in bum on the downswing- which seems to be part of the reason for the price going over a cliff (and their forecasts being way off) which destroyed the farmers cash flow for this and last season.?
                      Is this how it was or the storage wasnt a big deal ?

                    • RedLogix

                      Yes your analysis works for me.

                      You need a Plan B for the down-turn. Fonterra should be just re-liquifying all this powder mountain it owns and steadily turning it back into high value products that it had been building markets for in the meantime. That way their stockpile does not become a liability.

                      I’d expect there are some technical hurdles and objections to this – but the general idea seems sound.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Are you sure these milk powder mountains even exist? And if they exist, would they not be mountains of 25kg bags on stacks of pallets?

                      Further, I have doubts Fonterra has any facility for the mass production of reconstituted milk from milk powder.

                    • RedLogix

                      No I was assuming they exist for the sake of responding to dol’s analysis. I should have made that clearer.

                      Besides we know they DO exist in other countries right now – and with the price this low why not buy them back?

                      Reconstituting milk powder should be a pretty easy process, basically add water and stir. Not much energy or cost involved. Big caveat – a real dairy engineer would probably have a lot more complex answer 🙂

                      What would worry me is how suitable such recon milk might be for the high value downstream processes. I don’t know the answer to that question.

      • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 5.5.2

        Why would Labour think they knew better than dairy farmers how to run a dairy farm?

    • Lanthanide 5.6

      Part of the reason why farmers are so screwed now is because of high land prices, so anyone who was buying a farm was forced to get a massive mortgage. Hence why so many farmers will now be making a loss at the current milk price – because they borrowed so much to get into their land.

      That’s the sort of problem that builds up over time, and then suddenly it’s too late to make changes to the system without fundamentally screwing over a whole bunch of people.

      So while Labour may not have actively diversified away from dairy, if they had put in their new rules around foreign land ownership that they had campaigned on for the 2011 election, we may now be in a position where the average farmer had less debt and was better able to cope with the low milk payout we now have. Similarly if you have less debt (because the initial land purchase cost less), you’re in a better position to be able to raise capital to convert your farm to some other purpose, eg beef.

      Their 2011 election manifesto says this:

      The challenge for a Labour Government is to facilitate growth in this traditional area of economic activity through innovation and increasing quality rather than an ever expanding system of low cost production.

      and this:

      Labour will reverse the current approach to overseas sales of land. The onus will be on potential foreign purchasers to prove they offer additional value to the country from the land transfer. These rules will apply to sales of rural land over 5 hectares.


      • Ad 5.6.1

        The business problem for Fonterra specifically and dairy more widely is not in who owns the land.

        • dukeofurl

          Your point is ?

          Another meaningless phrase which goes nowhere, but makes you seem smart.
          I bet you spent your whole life sitting on the fence spouting such senseless nostrums. It might make sense if you were a pastor pontificating from the pulpit but here it just seems daft.

          • Ad

            The first point is for a future government to generate ways of engaging with the dairy industry so that it does not do more of the same.
            In case you are wondering, yes, I know what I am talking about.

            • dukeofurl

              Lets count ” process” words and compare with the action words, and then check if there is even an ‘idea’ there like a nugget amoungst the gravel.

              first point
              ways of
              more of the same

              I make that 6 process words or phrases, no action words, and absolutely no nuggets of gold, and this from a person ‘who knows what he is talking’ about.

              Ad, you are or were the problem. An out of date process wordsmith at that.
              Where are the latest ‘nothing’ words like benchmark or word class. stakeholders, didnt even make it, oh dear.

              • Ad

                No practical idea proposed by you.
                No answer to the points.
                No capacity to engage.
                Go fuck yourself.

                • dukeofurl

                  Bores arent worth engaging !

                  Engaging, another waste your life word. You seem to be a walking dictionary of them.

                  You seem a smart person, why do you spend your time saying nothing, were you a middle child or something.
                  I loved your Honey piece, not really relevant but shows you have ideas rather than ‘processes to follow’- follow is the operative word here for you.
                  Im wrong on heaps of things, I learn heaps too. Thats what makes it worthwhile.

    • NZJester 5.7

      National are the stick men not Labour.
      Labour would help with the transition if the farmer wished to change while National will do nothing to help them at all. But if a National short sited idea demanded it they would use a stick if they decided they wanted the farmers to change.
      The problem with a market economy is it does not work like it is meant to because it is to easy for the greedy big players to manipulate to form price bubbles that those manipulating milk for all it is worth and then cause it to crash and burn when they suddenly pull out leaving all the smaller player out in the cold. Or they form cartels to manipulate the price of goods lower or higher than what it should be if true market forces where in play.

    • Stephen Dickson 5.8

      They don’y need to diversify all the way from dairy. BUT it is the cow chasers own greed that has lead to this.

      Over stocked farming has never ever worked in the past. Why would it now? It is a boom bust habit.

  6. Xanthe 6

    It is because both labour and national are persuing exactly the same policy (debt driven exponential growth of production) that we are slowly drowning. Neither of them deserves a vote as a very significant proportion of (non) voters recognise

    • tinfoilhat 6.1

      One of the few sensible comments on this thread.

      National and Labour manage the economy almost identically to each other and variations are due to external circumstances rather than any particular intelligence or stupidity on the part of their respective economic advisors or minister of finance who are all virtual dopplegangers.

      • dukeofurl 6.1.1

        What a load of ludicrous nonsense.
        The government at the top have only a few levers to manipulate, if that . We all understand that, except for our two swivel eyed loons here, Xanthe and tinfoilhat.
        The ‘compound interest effect’ means that a small change can have a big improvement well down the track – or produce a slow motion train wreck

        • Ad

          The government still has plenty of levers.
          They’ve just forgotten how to operate them.

        • Colonial Viper

          Xanthe and TFH are correct.

          The difference between Labour and National only exists in the margins, in terms of political economic ideology, and in terms of 1% to 2% of Government spending.

          • dukeofurl

            Any government can only do things at the 1 or 2%.

            Maybe a “green party ” government would reach 5%- we will never know !

            using the ‘compound interest effect’ those 1or 2% do add up over a long period

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    And John Key proves, beyond doubt, that he really doesn’t understand the purpose of the economy, the purpose of trade or even how an economy works at all:

    The Prime Minister doesn’t understand why people wouldn’t want free trade with the US and Japan.
    Source: ONE News

    The TPPA is a proposed free trade agreement currently being negotiated between New Zealand and other Pacific Rim countries.

    Speaking on TVNZ’s Breakfast this morning Mr Key slammed the logic of TPPA opponents.

    “How is New Zealand going to get rich selling things to each other?

    He is, of course, implying that we need more money. We don’t. The whole purpose of the economy is to produce goods and services that we require. Trade is a way to make that happen. No more, no less. Even international trade isn’t really about money but about the provision of goods and services and even there it’s increased productivity that does it. Productivity today is so great that each individual country can provide fully for their people from their own resources.

    Keith Rankin puts it well in his Money ‘As If’ it was Magic

    Do you (dear reader) think of money in this way, as if it was magic resin? One simple test is the following question:

    Which of these – ‘exports’ or ‘imports’ – represents the benefit of international trade?

    If you were even tempted to answer ‘exports’ then this is the way that you most likely think about money. Of course it only takes a moment’s reflection to realise that the benefit of an exchange is what you get (‘imports’ in this example), and that the cost of an exchange is what you give up. We too easily think, however, that acquiring imports means that we give up the magic stuff that we regard as wealth.

    It really is quite depressing to see someone so ignorant as our PM. Problem is, that we can actually apply that to National as a whole. Their entire outlook is mercantilist.

  8. Steve Alfreds 8

    For all you members of Cult John Key here’s an objective piece looking at the economy by Brian Easton:


    Even though the government is now talking about spending on infrastructure projects (Keynes) I don’t think it has the money to do it without blowing out the debt further and foregoing that mythical surplus.

  9. save NZ 10

    +100 – excellent work – get the message out there to Joe Public – even the Fed Farmers are beginning to see National is an economic disaster. Northland is just the start of the hate affair with the Nats. You can blindly follow for so long but when your own demise hits you in the pocket, the rural sector are going to want answers.

    Another question – where are the 11 bridges in Northland that were promised? As usual the Nats just talk the talk and zero return on promises.

    Don’t forget PSA – reducing biosecurity measures etc courtesy of the Nats.

    Love the pathetic attempt to paint TPP as some sort of saviour for the country. It is telling the Nats are lashing out in the media against the Labour MP’s who actually protested with the people, something you could not imagine National MP’s bothering to do. z

    This is a government with zero clue – you can see from the transcripts they are just ignorant bullies who’s level of debate is just based on trying to put down their opposition personally rather than any sort of educated or intelligent debate around the real issues.

  10. Ad 11

    You are spot on this morning Anthony.

  11. Stephen Dickson 12

    A few facts about the dairy situation.

    They badly over stock and create a lot of cost by doing this. IE: pouring fert on at huge rates when if stock levels were managed properly they wouldn’t need anywhere near those amounts.
    They only think about cows, well grass then cows. When if they were thinking properly they would also be finishing units for lambs. Having a mob of lambs following the cows to clean up paddocks, but instead, and this is how stupid they are, they pay some to go through and mow it with a tractor.

    Then there is fonterra, the fonterra that is still allowing cow farms to be converted. They have nowhere to sell the milk but still the conversions are happening WTF.

    Sustainable farming it’s called, the way dairy is being run it’s not. In fact it’s not even close. Anyone will half a brain must think this per litre method doesn’t work and they would be right. The better thing would be for fonterra to do some actual science and work out the cheapest way to get X amount of litres per hectare, then pay farmers per hectare for the milk. Seasonal adjustments would be needed of course but this way it would be pointless for the farmers to overstock and so over supply.
    By cheapest I mean lowest cost, at the moment they don’t understand that it seems.

    Of course we have a government department that should have all these facts at their fingertip, but I don’t think they know what’s going on them selves as they are to busy worrying about their jobs.

    • b waghorn 12.1

      “”Having a mob of lambs following the cows to clean up paddocks””
      That would be a great way to get skinny lambs and week pastures for the next rotation. The other way round might work if you got your stocking rate right . but as most dairy farms have 2 wire fences its impractical.

    • dukeofurl 12.2

      Some of those things you mention dont seem to happen, mow after the cows ???

      The payout is on kg of miksolids because that is what is measured, for every farmer, every tankerload , every day……

      Your ideas while interesting, dont seem to be workable, other may say different .

  12. Colonial Viper 13

    Does Labour still believe that ongoing economic growth is desirable and possible?

    Does Labour still believe that a chronic current account deficit country like NZ running a government surplus is desirable and possible?

    Does Labour still believe that NZ Super is unaffordable and needs to be cut back?

    National may be incompetent when it comes to economics, but Labour still remains totally wrong headed.

  13. Macro 14

    There seems to be a discrepancy here Anthony between this post and your other one on “Earth Overshoot Day”.

    Earth overshoot day

    Yes Labour have “balanced” the books far more efficiently than National and have done so repeatedly over many years. The blatant incompetence of National to administer anything other than a piss up in a brewery (and even that is in doubt) is plain to see to anyone who wants to see. But the economy is more than just about balancing books – as your post on the 13th August is really about. Labour are just as much to blame for our country living well beyond the means of the Earth to sustainably provide. In 2008 (at the end of Labour’s last term of Government) NZers Ecological foot print had risen to such an extent that we were ranked 6th worst offenders in the world.

    Here in New Zealand, we moved from requiring 5.9 global hectares per person in the 2006 report to an average of 7.7 global hectares per person. A global hectare is a hectare with world-average ability to produce resources and absorb wastes. Worldwide, the average ecological footprint jumped from 2.2 global hectares per person to 2.7 global hectares per person.

    So I am not all that enamoured with Labour’s wonderful economic management – let’s just say it is marginally better than National.

    • Colonial Viper 14.1


      Labour still buys into the economic paradigms of the last 30 years: more growth, one way or another, but predominantly market led.

      • Macro 14.1.1

        Exactly – the realisation that we are well past the overshoot of sustainability still escapes many in Labour. Fortunately there is a growing movement world wide looking at sustainable economies and how we as a civilization can move away from the error ridden fixation on the “market driven economy”. The more people talk about it, and the more the errors of conventional economic theory are revealed, the sooner the people on Earth can move towards a sustainable lifestyle. Unfortunately the “High Priests” of today are the conventional economist – they have the ears of the rulers. Their advice is as about as good as the advice of those who relied on dried seaweed to make their predictions, and the parlous state of the world today, is the evidence.

    • r0b 14.2

      There seems to be a discrepancy here Anthony between this post and your other one on “Earth Overshoot Day”.

      Yes and no. Yes, in that I think that the action that is truly needed is unlikely to emerge in the context of current economic / political systems. No, in that within the context of current economic / political systems a Labour / Green government is a much, much better choice than a National / ACT one.

      Labour went out on notes of energy efficient shower heads and lightbulbs, and an ETS. Short of some kind of revolution (and none of us know what that would look like), of the two big parties Labour are the least bad option.

      • Macro 14.2.1

        The shower heads and LED lights were initiated by the Green’s but Labour got the blame. 🙂 (Simply another nasty piece of dirty politics by National). Cullen, like National, was fixated on building more roads and refused to divert money into developing the Auckland public transport infrastructure. The ETS – I have it on very good authority – was purely a Labour thought out deal (kept secret from the Green’s until the last moment) to which the Greens (after being promised a Carbon tax) were reluctantly forced to vote for, as it was “better than nothing – but very likely to be quickly demolished by an incoming government” and so it proved to be.

        • dukeofurl

          Cullen gave the go ahead to the auckland rail double tracking, the auckland rail electrification, the new lynn rail trench, the newmarket station rebuild.
          The north shore busway was funded from about 2004.

          What were those projects with bus and rail infrastructure that Cullen wasnt supporting ?

          You could try being right instead of warbling on about what you know ‘on good authority’

          • Colonial Viper

            Cullen could have spent billions more on public transport infrastructure.

            But his much vaunted book keeping surplus was just too important.

            • dukeofurl

              Could have ?

              Oh pleeeese, I have just shown any suggestion that big public transport infrastructure projects weren’t funded is arrant nonsense.

              Do you mean some bike trails missed out to be sccoped up by JK?

              Do some research like I did and find me ‘big’ projects that werent done!

              • Colonial Viper

                Don’t be a partisan arsehole.

                If all the big Auckland public transport projects were done, then Auckland public transport is in good shape now right?

                No additional major investments required for the foreseeable future, right?

                • dukeofurl

                  Didnt say that no new investment is needed for the future.

                  But you have to start at the beginning, double tracking HAD to come before electrification. You had to electrify before the trains arrived. Even the train depot cost $150 mill or so.

                  You could try and say Cullen was a big supporter of public transport infrastructure in Auckland , because the facts support it.
                  Saying you were was wrong is how its done.
                  The future is a problem all of its own. Not helped by National stopping and decent funding for public transport infrastructure and spending on its RONs

              • Draco T Bastard

                Oh pleeeese, I have just shown any suggestion that big public transport infrastructure projects weren’t funded is arrant nonsense.

                There’s a difference between being funded and being funded enough to be produced in good time.

                Do some research like I did and find me ‘big’ projects that werent done!

                Auckland’s City Rail Link. It should have been nearing completion around about now (or perhaps some time in 1945 if we extend it to Labour as a whole and not just Cullen).

                • dukeofurl

                  Dont be silly. You had to double track, before electrify, and that before ordering trains ( held up by Brownlee)
                  If Key never came back from NY, and labour continued Im sure the ARL would be half way through construction.

                  AS before , find me a scheme that was being promoted and was doable in a continum that he said “no way” to. There isnt anything of consequence that Im aware of.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    In 2004 Auckland City Council prepared preliminary plans for an underground railway connecting Britomart Transport Centre to the Western Line in the vicinity of Mount Eden Railway Station.[16] The underground link is projected to place the inner city within a 30 minutes travel for around 370,000 people.[17] The proposal included three additional stations: near Aotea Square, Karangahape Rd and the top of Symonds St – bringing most of the CBD within a short walk of a station.[18]

                    The decision to electrify Auckland’s rail network brought the tunnel back into general discussion, while initial feasibility studies for a possible link have already been made.[16] Estimates for the project’s cost were around NZ$1.5 billion (or up to $2.4 billion according to other estimates),[5] taking 12–16 years to plan and build.

                    The problem is that Labour did it piece-meal. First double tracking and electrification and then the CRL rather than projecting out and legislating the funding for the whole lot. If Labour/Cullen had backed it from 2004 we would be in the finishing stages now and there’s no way that National would have stopped it when they came into power in 2008 as they would have lost all of Auckland.

                    • dukeofurl

                      Thats only conceptual plans. Im not surprised

                      You obviously dont know that Auckland City Council – 1/4 of Auckland- dont have any regional responsibility for rail transport.

                      That was the fiefdom of the ARC, without their approval the ‘concepts’ dont get any further let alone to Cabinet.

                      mega projects get approved and funded that way. Piecemeal. No one lets a contract that far out, its madness in construction terms.
                      It was divided up into doable parts that followed on from each other. Its the way good government works not your grandiosity

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      No one lets a contract that far out, its madness in construction terms.

                      Who said anything about letting it out?

                      You put the whole project into the budget so that it’s funded all the way through to completion but you only pull in the contractors as you need them.

                      Its the way good government works not your grandiosity

                      Getting necessary infrastructure built isn’t grandiose.

                    • dukeofurl

                      Put it in the budget ?

                      Put what?, there was no idea of actual construction costs, land purchase required.
                      last year they started the drilling program to get the geotech basics for the design stage.

                      Legislating funding when you dont have detailed costs means you are in lala land. Construction does continue year by year once its started, but they only had concept plans from the Auckland City who werent responsible for regional rail.

                      Sometimes there is a 3 year spending program for an item, but spending is still passed year by year.
                      Look how easily labours tax cuts, passed in 2008 were unlegislated by national.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Put what?, there was no idea of actual construction costs, land purchase required.

                      The project. Basically, you put into legislation/budget the backing of the project. This starts out with financing the project planning/scope/etc and then moves on to the build of the new infrastructure.

                      Look how easily labours tax cuts, passed in 2008 were unlegislated by national.

                      Yep, they did and then they put bigger ones in for the rich. But they didn’t can the electrification of the lines which was funded in the 2007 budget but wasn’t awarded until 2010.

                      National canned the fuel tax hoping that Aucklanders would go back to cars and stop supporting public transport but that never happened. As I say, if National had canned the public transport upgrade they would have lost Auckland.

                      Labour should have fully funded the damn thing in 2004 rather than fluffing around for years. Hell, they should have done it in 1936.

            • dukeofurl

              Good to see that you agree it was a book keeping surplus ( not necessarily a cash one)
              I understand the money went into retiring debt and NZ Super or CULLEN fund ( get it!).
              Terrible waste do you think ?

              Nothing wrong with cars, its the carbon they emit that is the issue. Theres plenty of cars that have made drastic reductions,, in the CO2/km.
              Now if only someone could come up with an electric car with batteries?

              • Colonial Viper

                You’re getting stupid.

                Perhaps in your world everyone can afford a $55K Prius.

                • dukeofurl

                  Do you know how much fuel per year comes to ?

                  Anyway , battery or hybrid are at the start of their innovation cycle.

                  Remember too the PC ? people said that people would never buy these for home use, that was when they were $3K ( in 1985 money) or more for what is now a very basic machine

          • Macro

            I think my “good authority” out trumps yours any day. But I am not at privilege to say whom.

            • dukeofurl

              You should surely know the Greens came a cropper in that election going from 9 to 6, barely over the 5% threshold.
              This turned them into an irrelevance as far as the Labour government was concerned and NZ First was happy to rub their noses in an ETS for good measure.
              if you had won 10 seats you would have been sitting at the top table, but instead you voted for something you hated but had no political capital to have anything more. Tough.

              Still waiting for those projects that Cullen refused to divert money for ? Come clean and tell the truth , its vapourware.

              • Macro

                and your happy with that outcome? a crappy ETS which encourages polluters to emit GHG rather than look for alternatives?- says a lot.

                • Colonial Viper

                  The problem with the ETS – apart from making it dead easy for National to gut – is that it relies on and reinforces the same market led ethos which has led our ecosystems to the brink of disaster. And that is where Labour is at. Attempting to work with the markets, and to create new markets, to try and deal with both the “goods” and the “bads” of the economic predicament that we find ourselves in.

                  • Macro

                    Yes I totally agree. I know for sure that it would not be passed into law now, were the same actors to be presented with the Bill.

                    • dukeofurl

                      Your six mps were 1 against and 5 for back then. A bit different from the hoodwinked line you were peddling NOW.

                      I doubt it will be ditched entirely in the future but Im not too worried.

                • dukeofurl

                  Didnt notice the Greens saying that at the time:

                  “All the speakers, except Jeanette, said that it was about 80/20, that a price on carbon (the ETS) would do the heavy lifting and that the ETS would give us the most emissions reductions. Jeanette, in contrast, said it was about 20/80. A price on carbon is necessary but not sufficient to get the job done.
                  I think it is hilarious that the very people and parties who claim that the ETS, in its current form, will not reduce emissions are the very same people who say that we needn’t do anything else besides an ETS because it will be enough!”

                  Janette , for her scepticism got the boot from the leadership . hahaha

                  Dont love it when they say at the time its 80/20 and an ETS does the heavy lifting, and later they say they were forced by a backroom deal into signing it.
                  You dont know what ‘forced’ means, if I was around I would have put my boots on their throats when they signed.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    I think the machismo is a bit much for a party living in the 20-something percent range

                  • Macro

                    I don’t know what the duke has been drinking – but it certainly isn’t tea.

                    • dukeofurl

                      You need some special tea for your memory.

                      Im no greens expert, but another one of your memories is again proved mostly false. The greens on the whole (80/20) loved the ETS.

                    • Chooky

                      the Greens certainly are not infallible as a political brand…every so often they make monumental holier than thou cock ups when working ( not) with other parties they should be co-operating with…and I say this as a long time Green supporter…a bit of humility from the Greens would not go amiss either (Green issues are bigger than the Green Party)

                      …look at the mess the Aussie Greens made of Australian Left politics and Climate Change legislation by undermining Kevin Rudd


                      this is why I say that the Labour Party should have a dedicated spokesperson on Climate Change who is also a very able economist…It should be a main portfolio platform for Labour ( not just a token one wheeled out when deemed appropriate) …I would suggest David Cunliffe

                    • Macro

                      Chooky – I totally agree. That is what I’ve been saying here – the support for the ETS at the time was misguided, but understandable in the light of how they were suddenly presented with a fait accompli. At least at the time there was the likelihood that a decent cost on carbon would be established – not the “cup of coffee for a tonne of Carbon” that eventuated under National. There is no doubt now that nothing short of a sensible tax on Carbon – with appropriate redistribution policies in place – will suffice.

          • Macro

            2004 the Undergrounding from Britomart to the western line – no funding as yet from either Labour or National.
            The Airport – Auckland Line – again planned from mid 2000’s or earlier – held up because of lack of adequate Govt funding.
            Plenty of funding for SH20 but much less for the development of an integrated Public Transport system – much better to leave it to private operators – so now Aucklanders pay $2.50 for a 1 km journey on a bus!

            • dukeofurl

              Wasnt a project at the time, as I said you had to double track first , then electrify, big rebuilds at new Lynn and Newmarket, build the train depot , order the trains. AS well they were building the North Shore busway, that was a $200 mill project.
              Then there was the signal upgrade and all the AC power infrastructure to run electric trains

              A train tunnel without electric trains would be a white elephant.

              Could you have a link where the Airport Auckland line went to cabinet as a fully costed proposal and was knocked back. Even today its merely a future dream ( personally I think its a waste of money as the airport wins in having space for carparks)

              • Draco T Bastard

                Wasnt a project at the time,

                Thing is, it actually was. Sure, you had to do things in a certain order but it was all a single project. All inter-related as you keep pointing out.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Labour did a small fraction of what Auckland needed in terms of public transport and rail. Yes, that small fraction was notably greater than any National Govt might have done.

                  But a small fraction it was, nonetheless.

                  • dukeofurl

                    You are being silly there.
                    The original point Cullen was ‘ refused to divert money into developing the Auckland public transport infrastructure.”
                    Its just false and another one of macros delusions.

                    • Draco T Bastard


                      Seems that Cullen was, as a matter of fact, fixated on roads. Sure, he was considering roads for buses but that would not have eventuated. Building roads doesn’t produce buses but it does increase congestion.

                      To get PT working you need to actually put in place the infrastructure to support it and buy the vehicles to make it work. All Cullen was doing was building the roads which is neither what Auckland needs nor what Aucklanders want.

                    • dukeofurl

                      The story says this

                      “Dr Cullen has previously listed priorities for Auckland’s rail network for the next three years as completing the $200 million western line duplication project, upgrading the Newmarket junction and building a 1.8km spur line to central Manukau.”

                      Obviously the 3 year rail plan was executed. It goes on to say Cullen and others did not favour electrification, but if he didnt like it he didnt reject it as it did happen after the above. All electric trains only now running- it takes time, but is very frustrating waiting

                      On top of that was the North Shore busway, approved and completed and a big success. This is possibly a light rail line in the future.

                      Airport rail line, is one I hope will never be built, as there are higher priorities.

      • Bob 14.2.2

        r0b “No, in that within the context of current economic / political systems a Labour / Green government is a much, much better choice than a National / ACT one.” in what way?
        With regards to GDP per capita there is little difference between rises under this government and the Clark government: http://www.google.co.nz/publicdata/explore?ds=d5bncppjof8f9_&met_y=ny_gdp_pcap_cd&idim=country:NZL:AUS:CAN&hl=en&dl=en
        When it comes to unemployment rates, look at the massive rise in unemployment under the 4th Labour Government, followed by a massive drop under the Bolger National government, rise under the Shipley National Government, drop under the Clark government (before rising due to the GFC) and continued rise (due to the GFC) followed by flattening trending to a drop under the Key government, so no real trend either way there: http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/snapshots-of-nz/nz-progress-indicators/home/economic/unemployment-rate.aspx
        Median wage seems to be rising at around the same rate under this National government as it did under the previous Labour government to me http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/income-and-work/Income/NZIncomeSurvey_HOTPJun14qtr.aspx
        National is much better when it comes to inflation which wipes out Labour’s rises in the median wage: http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/statistics/key_graphs/inflation/
        Add to this the fact this National Government has implemented Breakfast in Schools, free healthcare for under 13’s, settled significantly more Treaty claims than any Labour Government, and been the first Government in more than 30 years to increase benefits ahead of inflation, how is a Labour / Green Government “much, much better”?

  14. Jenny Kirk 15

    CV asks : Does Labour still believe that NZ Super is unaffordable and needs to be cut back?

    He should know the answer by now – its been said often enough. But I’ll repeat it one more time (sigh !)

    Labour is concerned that NZ Super may be unaffordable in the future, and is looking at means to ensure that this does not happen. Labour does not intend to increase the age for people getting NZ Super – but does intend to re-start government contributions to the NZ Super (Cullen) Fund, and will investigate other ways in which NZ Super can become more sustainable.

    • Colonial Viper 15.1

      Sounds like a tap dancing vote losing answer.

      Labour does not intend to increase the age for people getting NZ Super

      Who is this going to fool? “We have no plans to increase the super age” “We do not intend to increase the super age” “We’re not looking at increasing the super age” etc

  15. Nic the NZer 16

    Labour used to be the party of economic competence, but that was only well prior to 1984. The party is still infested with wrong headed (neo-liberal) economic ideas, as their fascination with the super age shows.

    On the issues raised in this post however, what has the Labour party been saying the government should do about the anticipated slump in the dairy price? They have spent most of their energy telling the government off for breaking their surplus pledge. Apparently if the government is running a surplus then the country will some how fare better when demand in the export sector falls off (likely leading to an increase in unemployment). In reality if the government cut spending harder (or raised more taxes, in order to reach surplus quicker) then the country would be entering the dairy slump with a higher unemployment rate again. It would also be less diverse obviously (the dairy sector would be a bigger percentage of the economy given the economy was smaller).

    Also before getting too cocky about events like the SCF bailout, Labour might observe that there was a totally unregulated finance company sector chasing a nation wide housing bubble for most of their term. Only due to events such as this was it possible for the government to run budget surpluses with the low unemployment rates at the time. If the government of the day had successfully controlled the housing bubble developing over this period then the government surpluses would have disappeared (or the unemployment rate would have shot up), as they did when the financial crisis actually broke.

    Unfortunately when National put out the line ‘decade of deficits’ Labour immediately swallowed it whole and gave up any ability to pursue good economic policy. They are presently mired in bewildered mish mash of arguments about the economy, unable to decide if its more important to target unemployment and grow the economy, or for the government to run a budget surplus. This is a major problem because these two things are mutually exclusive given the present state of the economy.

    • dukeofurl 16.1

      You say run a ‘budget surplus’ as if its a reality when its just an accounting term which still means there is a cash deficit of around $6-8 billion per year.

      Budget surplus is only in terms of operational expenditure, capital expenditure isnt counted but it is still required to be spent. Greece had a surplus before paying back debt interest!

      Isnt a considerable achievement to have accounting surplus, PLUS debt reduction, PLUS low unemployment ( spread nationally as well) PLUS some major social programs.

      IF you remember ‘Bill and Bens’ philosophy was we should have borrowed more back then in the good times.
      The gift of low international interest rates has been a gift for the Nats that will never be repeated, so whos been squandering their opportunities.

      The decade of deficits line has become Bill Englishes epitaph as it will inscribed on his political tomb. We will have 9 years of nationals deficits come next election.

      • Nic the NZer 16.1.1

        Its a bit difficult to see what the point of this comment is. You appear to be saying that a budget surplus is a pretty arbitrary accounting goal. Yes, Labour achieved a pretty arbitrary accounting goal of running a budget surplus, well done.

        The important question of course is what are the consequences for the economy. The consequences at the time Labour was doing this was a housing bubble developing and nothing being done about this. The consequences of Nationals goal are a historically somewhat high unemployment rate. Neither of these appears to be very good consequences, never the less both main political parties continue to pursue their arbitrary accounting targets rather than focusing on the real consequences.

        “The gift of low international interest rates has been a gift for the Nats that will never be repeated, so who’s been squandering their opportunities.”

        This comment is hilarious and shows you are well beyond your depth of understanding. You do realize that the RBNZ (e.g a department of the government) largely controls the interest rate on this debt don’t you? The previous Labour government could have had these low rates had they desired it. Or alternatively the RBNZ could simply buy up all the new bond sales, in which case the interest payments go straight back into the governments consolidated accounts.

        • McFlock

          Actually, the reserve bank is not a government department.

          What it sets as the interest rates are determined independently by the bank according to policy objectives from the goververnment. Addressing a largely regional housing bubble with the OCR will stuff the rest of the country.

          Yes, Labour could have done better. But then Labour didn’t sell 49% of assets in order to pay down debt that had a lower interest rate than what the assets were returning in the first place.

          • Nic the NZer

            “Actually, the reserve bank is not a government department.”

            Though, “The Reserve Bank does not have shareholders. It is 100 percent owned by the New Zealand government, with any extra revenue that the Reserve Bank makes going back into the Crown accounts. The Reserve Bank is not a government department, but is a body corporate whose finances are included in the Crown accounts”, – RBNZ FAQ Treasury also sets the budget of the RBNZ.

            It may as well be a government department, for the purposes of any analysis.

            “Addressing a largely regional housing bubble with the OCR will stuff the rest of the country.”

            This would not be necessary, in fact the RBNZ could buy only government debt, bringing down the rate paid to whatever was chosen at the time. They could even just give the government an overdraft at effectively no rate (though both those changes would be implemented in to practice by parliament).

            “But then Labour didn’t sell 49% of assets in order to pay down debt that had a lower interest rate than what the assets were returning in the first place”

            What I have been getting at and repeating again and again, is that the left needs to stop worrying about the governments finances and the accounting (including chasing any kind of budget surplus), and focus on the effects on the economy.

            • McFlock

              It may as well be a government department, for the purposes of any analysis.

              Nope. The difference between governance and management is lost on you.

              A more apt comparison would be a 100%-publicly owned SOE, but even then the powers of cabinet are significantly greater as shareholders than they are under the restrictions of the reserve bank act.

              A government department like MSD can take direction from the minister on things down to individual projects and infrastructure decisions.

              The Reserve bank is essentially instructed “inflation <3%, make it so" and left to its own devices how it achieves those goals. Indeed, specific direction from the minister on the particulars would be interference in an apolitical organisation.

              • Nic the NZer

                Your saying nope to what?

                As I pointed out originally if the government wanted to pay low or super low interest rates of their debt then ‘those changes would be implemented into practice by parliament’.

                The fact that some minister (well, the minister of finance) can’t modify the function of the Reserve Bank act for their own devices is hardly to the point. Neither is the fact that the Reserve Bank has significant scope for their own decision making within the Reserve Bank act, e.g LVR changes.

                It seems highly likely that if the minister of finance wanted to pay super low interest rates on new government debt, then the reserve bank would agree anyway (Quantitative Easing looks exactly like a central bank implementing this policy, regardless of the stated purpose of QE).

                • McFlock

                  “Nope” was to the quote immediately preceding it.

                  There is a fundamental difference between the control a minister has over a department, and the arms-length governance they have over the Reserve Bank or a statutory commissioner.

                  You’re welcome to cite a post-1989 example of ministers dictating what the OCR should be. The only reason that would exist is if, like Key’s disregard of the cabinet manual or Carter’s abuse of his role as Speaker, their contempt for the principles of service impartiality and disrespect for procedural integrity are so fundamental that nobody thought to even outline penalties for it when the rules were being developed.

  16. Draco T Bastard 17

    And this from Robert Reich where he says:

    Republicans tout their skills as economic managers, but in fact the leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination have all been losers as economic managers.

    Seems that conservatives are crap economic managers the world over.

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