- Date published:
8:00 am, July 17th, 2016 - 71 comments
Categories: greens, labour, national - Tags: fonterra, homeless, homelessness, housing crisis
The curious convergence of Labour and National towards major housing market intervention is quite something as a principle.
The National government has proposed installing Commissioners to replace Auckland Council if they don’t see sufficient growth capacity in Auckland’s draft unitary Plan. They have also specially designated areas for developers with low regulatory oversight.
Labour is proposing even greater intervention – I don’t need to outline their policies when you can read them here.
As are the Greens’ policies here.
It’s good to see both sides of the house preparing to limit, regulate and funnel housing capital. Few except landlord interests dispute the risks housing represent to the whole of New Zealand.
But there are two more massively distended risks to market failure ripe for government intervention, because their collective risks are almost as great to us as housing.
The first is the vulnerability of the rural economy to dairy commodity prices. A future Labour-Greens government risks few votes in revisiting Fonterra’s governing legislation. Simply mitigating the risks of Fonterra’s market power hasn’t been enough to benefit the whole of New Zealand’s rural society in any sustainable fashion.
It could have been. From the purpose:
to promote the efficient operation of dairy markets in New Zealand by regulating the activities of new co-op to ensure New Zealand markets for dairy goods and services are contestable …”.
That purpose now looks weak.
Fonterra’s approach to commodification has rendered our export economy and rural communities far too vulnerable. It hasn’t responded to our country’s needs. Its core aim should be to gain the highest export dollar for the least environmental impact. It’s also by far our largest company and highest R&D investor. Fonterra is a creature of statute and it needs a sharp reminder of that fact from Parliament.
It’s time to intervene in the dairy market as boldly as in the housing market.
The second is the growing vulnerability of the urban and rural economy to cars. Politicians from both sides of the house like to think about transport through mode-shift and ribbon-cutting. That will always have a place. But our car fleet is old and getting older, hence dirtier and more unsafe.
A market intervention to upgrade whole generations of cars with massive subsidies for pre-2000 cars towards electric, hybrid and non-petrol options would be an efficient use of public capital. It would have a far faster rate of return on safety, pollution and efficiency grounds than any 100 metres of motorway or rail you could name. And it is a sure-fire vote winner with big and tangible redistributive effects. It’s good politics.
A winning 2017 government would see the sustained low oil price as a window in which to act with least societal impact and greatest short and long term benefit. Only housing ranks higher in terms of our desire for ownership and autonomy – and with that desire goes political desire.
As parties on both sides start writing bold policy bids towards next years’ general election, Labour, the Greens and National have signalled it’s time to revive the moribund muscles of the state towards our common wealth. 1987 is dead. The main players agree that 2017 demands a high benchmark of intervention and redistribution.
Housing has set that new modern benchmark. It’s time for more.
Bernard Hickey: Imagine a massive price drop
If you have a mortgage that you can afford, how does a value drop affect you on the short-term to medium term.
You still have the same cash flow, and if you keep up to date with your payments the bank is unlikely to foreclose, because the asset is worth less.
You won’t be able to leverage more properties though and you won’t feel so wealthy.
thats all true provided your equity level is acceptable to the lender….however if the lenders decide the market is more risky it can lead to a premium (interest rate increase) and/or a withdrawal of available funds….both actions which can accentuate the problems.
in any case doing nothing is not an option as these events will occur anyway
MAYBE, but why would the bank risk a loss when the mortgagee is paying.
banks borrow too
Because rents will drop.
I was thinking of home owners, not investors.
if the mortgagee maintained the payments the bank may not foreclose an underwater mortgage, would depend on a number of factors….however could the homeowner maintain those payments with reduced income, interest rate increase and increased costs?…..all very real possibilities with property price deflation.
Yes the situation is not always simple.
Also that once the property has negative equity it’s the bank that takes the hit in a mortgagee sale. So they will try and keep the borrower going to keep the payments, and profit coming in. Gets tough for the borrower, but they get to keep the property, at a huge cost, if they can keep up the agreed repayments.
It’s one of the swings with the full recourse system we have. It also holds property values up in a downturn, or more they plateau. Homeowners with reasonable equity that have to sell are the ones that loose out, they have to take what the market will provide, and if no one wants to buy because you can’t make 10%+ a year, ouch.
the bank may not take the hit, it will depend on who ultimately owns the credit
Just read that Paul after reading Rodney’s jumble in the jungle.
Bernard, “It ran a “stress” test with banks late last year to see what would happen to their balance sheets if house prices fell 55 per cent in Auckland and by 40 per cent nationwide.
It found the world would not end. Banks would not force everyone to sell their houses. Most home-owners have vast amounts of equity to fall back on. Those in negative equity would neither send their keys back to the bank in the mail nor be turfed out without warning…..”
“…..Why are politicians of all colours so afraid? And whose interests are they protecting when they say such falls are “crazy”?
I believe they are protecting the banks profits by keeping prices high. higher prices more debt = more profit…
Everything that our governments have done over the last thirty years has been to protect the wealth of the richest. They do this by putting ever more costs on the poorest and doing it in such a way so the rich get ever higher profits from those costs.
This is what privatisation is all about.
“t found the world would not end. Banks would not force everyone to sell their houses. Most home-owners have vast amounts of equity to fall back on. Those in negative equity would neither send their keys back to the bank in the mail nor be turfed out without warning…..”
no the world would not end…..but it could potentially change quite a bit for the worse and sending the keys back in NZ does not wipe the debt.
a rebalancing of the economy involves a deliberate crashing of parts of that economy and carries the risk of feedback loops ….the trick is to keep the changes within acceptable parameters….i.e. drop house prices without creating capital flight, interest rate increases, currency dive and widespread recession.
and consider where a lot of the churn in economy is coming from….funds obtained by borrowing against increasing property prices…..take that out of the economy and what happens?
Yep, that is something that we need to change. It’s the bank that’s taking the risk, not the people buying the house. As it stands the banks are protected from those risks that they take with the full amount being put on the home buyer.
Personally, what I’d like to see is a law that limits mortgage repayments to be whichever is the lesser of the agreed amount or 25% of household income. Total number of repayments to remain the same.
“Personally, what I’d like to see is a law that limits mortgage repayments to be whichever is the lesser of the agreed amount or 25% of household income. Total number of repayments to remain the same.”
and watch all the banks withdraw from the residential mortgage market or at the very least severely restrict who thy will lend to.
Yes and watch as both their profits shrink and house prices tumble. After all, the people most likely to be affected are the people who over-extend – otherwise known as speculators.
yes their profits would shrink but the ones most likely to miss out in the long run would be the lower paid trying to obtain a mortgage for a home rather than the speculators who generally have far more options and asset backing
A large run of mortgagee sales is likely to see NZ home ownership rates fall, not rise. Its also at least possible that investors snap up properties as a result.
including cashed up foreigners
they may, at “the right price’ and if they can get the finance
A brief list of financial institutions which passed stress tests (shortly before failure). Lehmans, fanny and freddy, AIG and the failed Icelandic banks. Are the RBNZ tests better?
I believe a 55% fall in prices over less than 5 years would surely see bank failures in NZ.
Politically Key especially is not brave enough to cause a drop in value. He fears the blame voters would direct at him. “But what about my capital games!”
Come to think of it, Key’s reluctance to deal with air pollution/climate change has the same fear of the voters. Leadership? Courage? Integrity?
politicians are followers, not leaders. Has Little whispered any plans to drop house values?
If Little said he wanted house prices to drop 30 per cent the Nats would use this against him day after day in the election campaign. Little knows this so is being careful what he says. Smart politics.
Exactly Bearded Git, and I’m pretty sure Colonial Viper does know that too. It’s so obvious.
Likewise…do you think if Key came out and said he was “dropping house prices by 30%” that Little would say A/ good job Mr. Key or B/ use it against Key?
But wouldn’t that be a logical consequence of a big housing build plan, Colonial Viper?
The problem is there is not a lot of companies of private investors in NZ with the capital or the horsepower to get involved in mass building programs, however Key does not appear to be interested in getting the Government directly involved in the building process, his approach is more hands off leave it to the market.
Bankers like making margins but do not have the capacity to create and actually do things, it’s all about ideology and beliefs.
Thats right, we are cursed with the ‘franchise building model’ where virtually all the companies building are thinly capitalised ‘husband & wife’ type operators who operate under a more well known brand.
The biggest franchise operator in Australia, GJ Gardiner is around 9 or 10th in the volume of homes built. Here they are the largest.
The exercise with the SHA areas shows so far 52000 possible ‘home sites’ approved in Auckland but its only a paper approval with around 2-3000 built or under construction.
A labour government could easily just go to those holding resource consent for SHA but no money to go any further, and could develop the sites for 5000 homes a year without making much impact on the overall backlog
Now we want the government to spend billions subsidising the environment destroying manufacture of new personal cars?
How about policies which allow people to ditch personal vehicles and their costs altogether?
Right up till the 70s state houses never had driveways or garages provided.
Interesting. Didn’t consciously realise that although it makes sense now you point it out. They walked to the polls to vote us in, they drove to the polls to vote us out…
Climate change for one.
“We can ramp up electricity generation for utilities based on the demand. We can turn on when they want us to turn on and we can turn off when they want us to turn off,”
Kevin Smith SolarReserve CEO
What if Australia were to do this?
If there is any country that is crying out for this technology it is Australia.
We could make a difference.
Australia and New Zealand are close cultural cousins, both majority white settler countries, with a common language, and a shared history of British colonialism, both with an indomitable native population, living close to and imbued with strong ethos of respect for nature and the environment.
Even our flags look the same, and despite what John Key says. What New Zealand does, does matter on the world stage.
Maybe New Zealand could build one of these above power plants to shame Australia into doing it.
How would we go about it?
Northland might be the perfect place. Higher average sunshine, at the far end of our electricity grid, crying out for a needed jobs boost.
Northland has long ignored by government, compared to other regions for energy investment projects.
As an example to world and in particular our close cousin across the Tasman.
Northland needs to become the 21st Century Renewable Energy capital of Te Ika a Maui.
The powerful energy tail that will drive us over the coming rapids.
Because private investment proved not to be up to the task. A good template for state intervention for the change to renewables, (Before the desperate forced shuttering of all fossil fuel plants and replacement with renewable energy becomes a matter of survival), is the heroic electrification of this country in the 20th Century by the state.
Don’t be on the losing side of history.
““We can avert these risks if we take bold, decisive action now.””
Well, that’s a lie for starters.
If we were to end all fossil fuel use today – and hence collapse western society globally – we would still probably race past 3 deg C warming. Which means global disaster over the next few decades.
I don’t think that is backed up by the science at all. To my knowledge that says that reaching zero (net) emissions today results in another degree of warming as the planet reaches thermal equilibrium. That means 2 degrees since industrialisation.
Whatever the facts FAILING TO ACT WILL BE CONSIDERABLY WORSE.
Hi Nic the NZer.
The concept of a thermal (or energy) equilibrium is certainly the correct approach.
I invite you to check out these additional factors.
1) Global dimming from particulate pollution which is currently applying a cooling force providing us with 1 deg C to 1.5 deg C of temperature reduction. When we stop using fossil fuels, these particulates will settle out of the atmosphere within 6 months and we will get the full hit of this warming.
2) Current global warming cf pre-Industrial baseline is 1.0 to 1.2 deg C. This is up from 0.8 deg C warming just 10 years ago.
3) It takes approx 30 years for us to experience half the warming due to emissions. So half the warming from 1980s emissions are still to happen. We have experienced very little of the warming from the last 10 years worth of emissions.
I would tend to agree, except I think that Mother Nature is going to take the steering wheel out of our hands as positive feedback loops kick in above 2 deg C warming.
Bottom line though YES we do need to take extreme measures to reconfigure our economy and we do need to take extreme measures to prepare for the impacts of climate change, which will be severe and soon IMO.
At least Ki-Moon’s statement is better than our government’s position, which apparently is;
“We can avert these risks if we take no bold, decisive action now.”
But Ban Ki-Moon is only the head of the UN, what would he know.
Yes I agree that his statement is better than most politicians. Still hugely underplays the situation, but it is better.
Cue; Green Party Dream Sequence.
The Greens “Centrepiece Campaign” is “Swimmable Rivers”.
But “Swimmable Rivers” will not be much use without a “Survivable Climate”.
There are no signs, (so far), that the Green Party will be launching any “Centrepiece Campaign” or any other sort of campaign launch for a Survivable climate.
Unfortunately it seems, the words “bold” and “Green Party” don’t go together.
One project that is crying out for ‘bold government intervention’ is Hauauru ma raki.
Eric Pyle Chief Executive of the New Zealand wind Energy Association claims that it will take only a tiny tweak of government “policy settings” to get this stalled project up and running again.
The government need to put in place the “The Right Policy Settings” That Eric Pyle, says will be necessary to create hundreds if not thousands of permanent jobs in the wind industry sector.
Despite all this, the government refuses to intervene to allow the Hauauru ma raki wind farm to go ahead, creating hundreds of jobs just down the road from where the Huntly coal mines laid off dozens of workers.
The government needs to stand with the unemployed working people of Waikato and Huntly, an area, where even before the coal layoffs, was labelled a blackspot for unemployment by WINZ.
Eric Pyle has outlined the necessary political action needed to restart the Hauauru ma raki wind farm and revitalise the region hit hard by job losses in the dying coal industry.
The Government has proven its ability to intervene to protect and subsidise the fossil fuel companies, with a $250 million bail out of Solid Energy. (which failed).
There can be no more excuses….
The government need to take the same sort of “bold intervention” that they did for the fossil fuel sector, for the Renewable Energy Sector.
hi jenny, you have clearly put some work and thought into this.
i have some reservations about large scale wind farms.
i live up wind of 2 wind farms in the manawatu and live off grid with a 1 kw turbine and solar array.
moving parts and.. what about geo thermal or the solar farms you reffered to earlier?
i realise geo thermal has moving parts however the amateur kiwi engineer in me says geo thermal would be easier to make happen than huge towers in the wind. plenty of steam for jobs in the waikato, too.
anton oliver wrote a great essay a year or two back. the listener i think.
one of his points was how they only get built because there is a big balance sheet incentive in these developments (tax write offs and other activities of haruspices).
i am all for getting off the fossill fuels but i think wind ain’t the way to go.
The details while important, are not what is really missing, what is really missing and is vitally needed, but is in short supply is the political will.
Where is that gonna come from?
No it wouldn’t as cars happen to be uneconomic and unsustainable. Far better to push for full electric public transport that free to ride for everyone at all times.
At least a large plurality, if not an outright majority, of people in cities don’t even want to own cars. That’s why as PT capability in Auckland is increased it’s full straight way. Cycling is increasing as well across Auckland.
How about making public transport free at the point of use?
People love free stuff.
Start giving out free stuff and see for yourself, people will take free stuff even if they don’t want it.
And before you stop laughing consider this: In cities overseas where it has been trialled free public transport has been runaway success.
Ridding cities of traffic congestion and negating the need for more motorways,
Making public transport free, once you take out all the costs that car manufactures and oil companies have been able to externalise onto us, as well as being more efficient at moving tens of thousands of commuters, is actually cheaper.
Fare Free New Zealand
Once you do a resource use to resource use comparison it’s obvious that public transport is far cheaper. It’s this type of comparison that shows that the present system is completely delusional.
Why would anybody ever think that using more resources is cheaper than using less?
The answer seems to be the excuse of economies of scale and the only way that would work is if they’ve got the calculation badly wrong.
I don’t think the calculation is wrong.
If you were thinking of the most inefficient and most wasteful, most polluting, but most profitable way of moving people around, you can’t beat the private motorcar. All the infrastructure and related costs, Like motorways, roads, pollution, congestion, car accidents and injuries, mechanical maintenance, registration, licensing, insurance, are all covered by the public and the taxpayer and not by the oil companies and car manufacturers.
These powerful industries have made that calculation and that is why they have made powerful lobbies to keep it that way.
Parking meters, garaging costs, cleaning costs (and time), traffic and parking fines, traffic jams, etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum.
I am so over it.
When I drive past you walking or biking- Ill give you a wave. You are describing a 1930s style economy, wishing it wasnt so is ridiculous.
After all we had roads and bridges with horse traffic too
In the mornings while biking to uni I will pass hundreds of cars stuck in traffic.
And coming down the road like a stressful head on approach with an 18 wheeler on a narrow road; Congestion charging and road tolls. (accompanied with intrusive electronic monitoring of your movements)
Freedom of movement in Auckland will be something only for the well off.
(No wonder Gareth Morgan loves it).
Congestion charging doesn’t apply to train or bicycle. Bus should also be excluded but that’s probably going to have to wait until we get better bus lanes.
And a hell of a lot more busses.
If nothing makes our political classes decide they need to take bold action against climate change, they need to listen to this address.
In the many essays and books I have read, and lectures by leading experts that I have watched, detailing the current effects and destruction caused by climate change and extrapolating climate change’s even worse future effects…..
None have affected me emotionally as much as this one.
For some reason that I can’t explain. I found this dry, measured and calm, klutzy low tech, low key, address delivered by a tired looking US Senator, one of the most chilling that I have ever witnessed.
think the duke can park his car up pretty soon….and we won’t have to worry about the finer points of economic theory….our hands may be a little full
Maybe unsurprisingly (if your paying attention) AD has miss characterised housing comissoners as a state intervention. What its actually however is a replacement of council planning (a state intervention, somewhat decentralised somewhat democratic) with more central planning and likely the comissoners will favour developers and more leaving it to the market.
Conclusions about cross party support do not follow from there.
I certainly don’t imply cross-party support between National and Labour.
National has explicitly ruled out cooperation with Labour, Green and Maori Party’s housing crisis investigation that is now underway.
But the point is intervention. Your politics may not like the kind of intervention, but it’s a long long way from the National Party of Jenny Shipley and Ruth Richardson.
Joyce is already actively seeking to outflank Labour and the Greens on how much intervention is going to occur.
And hence Labour has drawn them into a game that National cannot win.
I assume that this post was driven by the announcement that Nick Smith was considering intervening in the market to compulsorily acquire land for new housing projects.
But how far did that go?
Less Bold Intervention Needed?
Of course, being an MP in the political party that looks to the interests of speculators and property developers, financiers and landlords, Nick Smith later backtracked and said that the policy would not be used to target “Land bankers”.
When it comes to solving the housing crisis this is just the sort of “bold intervention” that Nick Smith and his advisors and other politicians know are needed, but are reluctant to implement, in case it offends their political backers and party funders.
Which shows that they are not really interested in solving the housing crisis at all, especially if it entails “intervening” to curtail the worst effects “of the market”.
And so the crisis will be allowed to get worse.
The ACT Party which is even more openly pro-market than National was aghast that a National Minister could even consider such a thing.
Labour MP and Mayoral hopeful Phil Goff was also quick to poo poo the idea. Suggesting that the $1billion funding available to the UDA would be hardly enough to compulsorily buy back the land off the land bankers. (If that is what it was used for).
What if the $1billion allocated by the government plus the powers of the UDA were used to compulsorly acquire some of the 33 thousand ghost houses at government valuation.
How many houses would that provide?
What if we went even more “Venezuelan” and bought up all of them at a price set by the government that did not exceed the $1billion allowable budget?
Now that is what I would call a bold intervention.
Until then families will be left to shiver in cold garages and cars parked on the street.
“Ghost homes – properties lie empty in spite of crisis”
Greed is good. The market is sacrosanct. Houses must be left empty. Children must suffer for the market.
It may be a simplistic approach to solve this problem (and many more) but how about a change of government in 2017?
An interesting and novel approach.
In my opinion for this to happen the opposition party contenders for government will have to offer radically different alternatives to the current lot.
Vaguely different won’t cut it.
Sanders and Corbyn have shown how wildly popular Left programs can be. And this despite unrelenting universal condemnation from the MSM and establishment politicians from all sides of the house.
33,000 ghost houses lie empty and the wealthy scum who benefit the most from this situation do this.
These monsters need to be jailed. Yet they parade around freely.
In my humble opinion, Michael Barnett’s words are more descriptive of himself and the Auckland Chamber of Commerce.
These insane maniacs lobbied hard to get the government and council to spend $6billion of our money digging a motorway tunnel under Auckland Harbour when according to the Green Party Ministry of Transport figures, indicate that the entrances are in danger of being inundated by sea level rise.
It was the members of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce who were the main organised lobbyists behind the flag referendum at over $27 million. Money that could have gone someway to housing the homeless.
These heartless scumbags are very generous with our money for their pet projects. No matter how crazy their stupid schemes are.
And there can be little doubt this over privileged intimidating filth are among those making speculative fortunes out of the housing crisis. The victims of which they cruelly douse with water in mid winter while sleeping in the open.