Repeating our past mistakes

Written By: - Date published: 2:35 pm, December 23rd, 2009 - 18 comments
Categories: economy - Tags:

Since Marty’s away, no pretty graphs.

There’s not much Christmas cheer in the new GDP numbers I’m afraid. The economy grew at just 0.2% in the September quarter (the forecast was 0.3%). That’s below the rate of population growth, so economic output per person continues to fall. GDP per capita is down 5%, $2000 a year, from the peak and back to 2003 levels

Just as concerning is the source of this mediocre growth. Manufacturing is still falling, so is construction. All the growth is in the finance sector; the rest of the economy is still shrinking. Investment in new capital (houses and business capital) is still falling while private consumption is up.

Put that all together and it adds up to a simple and unsettling statement: we’re consuming more but not producing more, and we’re not investing in a more productive future. We’re buying more stuff (from overseas), spending more to buy existing houses while not building new ones, and we’re borrowing to do it.

The pitiful growth we are experiencing is not the export-led recovery our do-nothing government promised it was working towards. It is the beginning of a return to the same pattern of borrowing, housing speculation and over-consumption that got us here in the first place.

[so what about the good current account numbers yesterday? Turns out its thanks to the $1.3 billion in stolen tax we got back from the Aussie banks, not some exporting miracle]

18 comments on “Repeating our past mistakes”

  1. “export-led recovery”

    Why would anyone care about exports? The implied “exports good, imports bad” thinking in this is just mercantilism all over again. I have made the point Imports good; exports bad before.

    • Bright Red 1.1

      That’s because you’re a tool, paul. A tool of a failed ideology that has just seen your heroes, the money-men, become the biggest welfare queens of all time and thrown millions of ordinary people worldwide into poverty.

      A country simply cannot continue to buy more than it sells forever. To finance that it has to take on more and more debt, and sell its assets. We sent over $7 billion a year to our foreign creditors and owners in the last year, and that number was smaller than usual because of the recession, the previous year it was $13 billion. We’re talking 4-7% of GDP here. It’s like the country is already entirely foerign-owned and they’re creaming off a healthy annual return from our labours.

      Continue to import more than we export and the investment position gets worse until it all comes tumbling down when the credit dries up or the debt bills get too big. Down that road lies Iceland, Ireland, and Greece.

      • Paul Walker 1.1.1

        So? Current account deficits/surpluses are self correcting.

        If you are so worried about the balance of payments between NZ and the rest of the world, are also worried about the BoP between the South Island and the North? If not, why not?

        • Bright Red 1.1.1.1

          “Current account deficits/surpluses are self correcting.”

          Yeah, like Ireland’s is eh, Paul? 12% unemployment, 11% GDP decrease. Two years of recession. Slashed public services.

          Oh I do love the invisible hand at work. It picks you up and then slams you down. But hey, you end up where you started, so it’s self-correcitng and that means its OK.

          This is the problem with you and your entire ideology. You can’t see the human cost of what you’re saying. You see a correction, not the human misery that entails, or you do see and you don’t care because it’s not measurable, you can’t put it on a spreadsheet nice and easily, you can’t count it in dollars. That’s the bankruptcy at the heart of your worldview – you think the economy exists for its own sake, not for humans, we’re just cogs in its wheel to you.

          And if you don’t understand the difference between capital flows within an economy (within a currency, within a tax base, within a single regulatory system, under a single government etc) and flows between economies you really have a problem.

          • Paul Walker 1.1.1.1.1

            “And if you don’t understand the difference between capital flows within an economy (within a currency, within a tax base, within a single regulatory system, under a single government etc) and flows between economies you really have a problem.”

            There are no economic differences between the two, that is the point. We don’t know what the state of the capital account is between the North and South Islands, and we don’t care or need to know. In exactly the same way we don’t need to know or care about what the state of the current account is between us and the rest of the world.

            ‘Exports good, imports bad’ (non)thinking in this is just modern day mercantilism.

            • prism 1.1.1.1.1.1

              The state of our earnings from exports versus our spending on imports is surely one of the things that the rating agencies look at. We can’t take a holiday from the rating agencies judgements.

  2. tsmithfield 2

    Not that easy for exporters when our dollar has been artificially pumped up by the carry trade in the US dollar.

    Also, productivity per head of population will decrease as unemployment increases. Hopefully, now the economy is starting to turn around the unemployment trend will start reversing. Having said that, there are a lot of places in the world that have faired much worse than we have.

    • Bright Red 2.1

      ts. Productivity per worker rises with unemployment.

      The point in the post is obviously that while there is economy growth, it is below the rate of population growth. Sure, the pie is growing but the number of slices is growing faster.

      • tsmithfield 2.1.1

        I didn’t say per worker. I said per head of population. So, I what I said is correct.

    • “productivity per head of population”

      Can you explain what you mean by that. I don’t get it. For example GDP per worker is often used as a measure of labour productivity. Do you want GDP per worker per person? I really not sure what that measures?

  3. Pascal's bookie 3

    Paul, in your post that you link to (which, while interesting is not about the topic of this post), you explain yourself why “Why would anyone care about exports”.

    They are what we use to pay for our imports.

    Where there is a deficit we are consuming all that lovely consumption, but not paying for it yet with exports. That means we have to service that debt from somewhere else.

    Perhaps you could explain why all the credit ratings agencies care about current account deficits, a question you never got around to answering the other day.

    Maybe you are right and they are wrong, and a current account deficit is nothing to worry about in and of itself. But that doesn’t matter, because it’s them what sets our credit ratings. A downgrade in our credit ratings all by itself, is a reason to not be unconcerned about running up a huge current account deficit. Surely?

    • “They are what we use to pay for our imports. ”

      Exactly. We only export so that we can import. Exporting for the sake of it makes no sense. Importing is what makes sense.

      “Perhaps you could explain why all the credit ratings agencies care about current account deficits, a question you never got around to answering the other day.”

      My guess is they don’t care about current account deficits per sec. They use them as an indication/signal that something else in the economy is wrong. They will then go looking for that something.

      When thinking about why the current account deficit may not be a problem, remember it means investment is greater than savings, so what? Take the example of Singapore, which run a current account deficit averaging 10 per cent of GDP for 20 years from 1965 to 1985. Look at their growth rate during this period. Canada ran a deficit which exceeded 5 per cent of GDP for most of the time from 1870 to 1913. Again look at their growth rate over that period. So a current account deficit, as such, does not have to be a problem.

      But it may also signal that something else is wrong in the economy. So you have to look at the real problem, not the signal.

  4. burt 4

    Eddie

    The pitiful growth we are experiencing is not the export-led recovery our do-nothing government promised it was working towards. It is the beginning of a return to the same pattern of borrowing, housing speculation and over-consumption that got us here in the first place.

    Let me guess Eddie, you had already forgotten that the little pimple domestic economy of NZ went into recession ahead of the sub-prime credit crisis and the global recession? You berate little growth after cheering the team that slid us quietly into negative growth while the world was still basking in the final days of the golden summer.

    Status quo was a failure Eddie, the team that stopped the bus and took a nap don’t have the wheel anymore so get over it.

    • Zetetic 4.1

      NZ went into recession same quarter as US. Q1 2008.

      Fucken idiot.

      You’re an embarrasment to yourself.

    • Pascal's bookie 4.2

      He also forgets that our RB act means that unlike the Fed we didn’t have helicopter Ben priming the pump for most of 07.

  5. jcuknz 5

    >>>That’s below the rate of population growth,<<< Well we just need to stop having babies, there are enough of us on this one and only planet as it is.

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    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    2 weeks ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    2 weeks ago

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