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Sleight of hand

Written By: - Date published: 5:55 am, February 18th, 2009 - 27 comments
Categories: economy - Tags:

We’ve been saying for some time that the $9 billion of fiscal stimulus that the Government claims it is putting into the economy in reaction to the global recession is no such thing. In fact, the Government is spending within the ordinary increase in spending allotted by the Budget back in May. And it is spending it on policies either put in place by Labour before the election or promised by National before the credit crisis. This is spending that would have happened anyway dressed up as a recession package, which it is not. Over at Pundit, Tim Watkins and Nicky Hager have excellent pieces detailing this economic sleight of hand. There ought to be some blushes in the press gallery that they have fallen for it so completely.

The one time it has been put to Bill English that most of his so-called recession package is spending that would have happened had there been no recession, he replied he can’t do much more compared to other countries because Labour started reacting to the recession in May. Which is bollocks. There was no recession package in last year’s Budget because when it was released in May we had only one quarter of negative growth and, while a technical recession was expected for the first half of the year, everyone expected us to pull out of it – the twin punches of the peak of the oil spike and the credit crisis had not yet hit. But just because something is bollocks doesn’t mean you don’t see it parroted again and again.

On a side note, it is worrying to see that Key seems willing, once again, to ‘bend the rules’ (ie break the law and/or constitutional convention). This time, he’s indicated he would be willing to ignore restrictions on foreign investment to get capital for Fisher and Paykel. I know it is unfashionable to put things like constitutionality ahead of style but I for one am worried at this pattern of behaviour. If the rules wouldn’t produce the right outcome, the Government should change the rules (or seek Parliament’s approval for changes), rather than bending them.

Anyway, F&P is a solid, profitable company just in need of some more capital. Rather than ‘bending the rules’ to let some foreign company take over F & P, why don’t we put up the cash like we did with Air NZ and keep the profits here, in New Zealand?

27 comments on “Sleight of hand”

  1. BLiP 1

    Goober John Key will do what ever his big business masters tell him to do and it seems his first orders are to ransack the economy starting with the looting of the Cullen Fund and Kiwi Saver cash. . The indolence of the MSM amounts to collusion so it is great to see the blogsphere pick up the mantle of the Fourth Estate. Thank you.

    The sleight of hand in relation to the so-called measures dealing with the up coming recession is frustrating. It would seem that big business is not interested abating the inevitable consequences, preferring instead to see a significant pool of unemployed in New Zealand to better facilitate profit by controlling the workforce. The situation under Labour where there was a demand for workers is an anathema to the multinationals operating in our economy. This is why National’s economic measures amount to zilch.

    Of course the government should bail out F & P – not with a gift of cash – but with the puirchase of a piece of the business. Moreover, that purchase should be funded with Kiwi dollars, not Goober’s foreign mates money. If the Cullen Fund and Kiwi Saver are to be looted, then let the money at least stay in New Zealand.

    Eeeek! Did I just agree with a National Party policy? Still, National have already proved that what it says and what it does are two different things.

    Hahaha – captcha = shares reduction – is it sentient?

  2. infused 2

    I do agree with you on F&P. I have a funny feeling however that F&P is going to leave NZ shores anyway.

  3. ryallsghost 3

    Boo Hiss!

    We hate the darstardly John Keys.

  4. vidiot 4

    F&P are bleeding because they didn’t calculate correctly the costs of relocating 400 odd jobs from NZ to Mexico/Thailand. And the government should invest in them, for what reason ? Anyone else fail to see the irony in that ?

  5. BLiP 5


    Yeah, it is ironic. Yet another example of the level of management expertise at work in New Zealand. Another Feltex waiting to happen.

    But – if the government takes a piece of the business it become entitled to influence the direction the company is taking and to stop the exporting of jobs. At the risk of being burned at the stake for modern heresy, the government could also slap some nasty tarriffs on the imports and, thus, further protect the F & P jobs for a couple of years . . .

  6. vto 6

    Your post contains yet more evidence as to why people should not rely on govt to get things right or economists and the like to make entirely accurate forecasts, where you say;

    “in May we had only one quarter of negative growth and, while a technical recession was expected for the first half of the year, everyone expected us to pull out of it ”

    Really! “Everyone expected us to pull out..”??? Get real.

    If you believed that and the wonks then, how on earth can you have any certainty about your economy ‘beliefs’ now? Such as you continual blathering on about stimulus this and stimulus that. It is proof of cred failure.

    Dreamland then and dreamland now.

  7. ghostwhowalks 7

    F&P problems seem to both the downturn in demand and unstated financial manoeveurs that have meant its debts have blown out massively almost overnight.

    Was it currency hedging that has gone wrong ! . Key is just the sort of man that would have given advice that got the company in the poo over currency speculation to start with AND then offers the way out

  8. vto 8

    Oh, and yeah, no to F&P. I have only so much money and for the govt to take more off me for some other blighter in similar straits simply gets a big NO. We need every cent of our own for ourselves. F..k F&P.

  9. tsmithfield 9

    Steve, there are several pertinent points here:

    1. It is the effect of stimulus packages not who dreamed them up that is important. Prior to the crash in the world economy there was a lot of concern in NZ about the inflationary effect of spending/tax cut packages announced by both National and Labour. Consequently, the existing measures should be stimulatory in themselves, even if that is the end to the stimulus activity. Also, some spending is brought forward meaning the cash hits the economy earlier.

    2. There is considerable disagreement amongst economists and the market generally about whether the massive stimulus packages will be successful in any case. Just look at the continuing downward trend in the markets despite the announcement of stimulus packages worldwide. If the stimulus packages fail, then many countries will have mortgaged themselves and future generations up to the hilt for nothing.

    3. As a small exporting nation we will probably be more affected by the success or otherwise of stimulus packages overseas anyway. If things go well with the international stimulus effort, then we stand to gain without the risks.

  10. vto 10

    tsmithfield “If the stimulus packages fail, then many countries will have mortgaged themselves and future generations up to the hilt for nothing.”

    Not quite… Governments, not countries, will have mortgaged themselves…

    As I’ve said before, these are debts that few of the public have requested. If govt debts blow right out then expect heavy resistance from the taxpayers when it comes time to pay it back. Tax riots. Weakened govts. Social unrest. Political change… the whole works. Govts are exacerbating that by continuing to wrack up the iou’s.

    Perhaps, instead of more debt as a solution (and everyone knows that is not a solution), we should start on the long term solution right now and simply grunt our way through the tough time which will come sooner or later. Go through it sooner.

    That solution is called “living within your means”. Simple. And easy to do (plus or minus). It applies to individuals and families. It applies to corporates and businesses. It absolutely without doubt applies to govts, both central and local.

  11. Pascal's bookie 11

    Tsmithfield, are you Tony Norriss?

    [lprent: You know that I don’t like speculation of that sort. There is a reason using pseudonyms – it encourages robust discussion]

  12. Quoth the Raven 12

    I agree with the righties on F&P. No corporate welfare. The government should not support unsustainable business practises. There is no need for those people to lose their job if F&P fails. They can do what workers around the world have been doing and occupy the plants and run them themselves. It ought to become their property, after all it is their labour that has been mixed with it for so many years.

  13. djp 14

    F&P is a solid, profitable company just in need of some more capital.

    Apparently your view is not widely shared (hence the drop in share price).

    If you think they are a good investment then invest your own money.. dont try to force my tax dollars into the farce.

    According to some people I know F&P have made some stupid decisions… lets not introduce a moral hazard into the equation

  14. djp 15

    Quoth the Raven,

    Hear hear on the “No corporate welfare”.

    As for workers commandeering the property, that is called theft where I come from.

    I suppose if you pay me to fix your plumbing I now have a claim to said property? After all I just “mixed” up my labour with it.

    Frankly the whole idea sounds ludicrous.

  15. Pascal's bookie 16

    You know that I don’t like speculation of that sort. There is a reason using pseudonyms – it encourages robust discussion

    Fair enough, I could have phrased it better. But it’s a fair question.

    Take a look. Scroll down to comments

    It’s not about ‘outing’.

  16. You know,

    Sometimes I wander over to this blog from the activities on my own and lo and behold the postings and comments are beginning to look a little bit more upset and a little bit more like what the fuck and dare I say it a little bit more in tune with what I’ve been trying to tell everyone the last year or so.

    Perhaps in the near future (within the next year) when we see starvation and civil war on the streets of America and the prison camps, all 400 of them are filling up with political prisoners perhaps it might not be such a bad idea to investigate when, why and how it all went so horrible wrong and how come so many bankers (Geitner, ex President and CEO of the privately owned Federal Reserve of New York is now the secretary of Treasury working to keep the Federal Reserve in private hands according to his own words) are advising Obama.

    And perhaps then the average hard working, honest to a fault, naive Kiwi’s will finally wake up to the fact that this was all just a rich prick’s game and that John Key is one of them. Sleights of hands is what he has earned his money with. Not an honest days work in his live but a continuous 20 year long scam and why change a habit of a lifetime? Eh? It worked before and thanks to the thickness of the average sheeple it still works a charm.

  17. Matthew Pilott 18

    vto, it’s not about spending more money, but making the most of this situation. Labour planned to invest in our idle resources – people. If someone is unemployed, instead of giving them a benefit, give then a grant or loan to retrain, so when things pick up, there are people to take up the extra work.

    What National have announced are just regular day-to-day outgoings of government. None will help New Zealand when things pick up again after the credit crunch. The Kopu Bridge or a sharp corner in the Rimutakas? All well and good, but where’s the bloody inspiration?

    Where’s the change you all voted for? All you’re getting from National to counter the recession is what Labour paid for, but two months sooner, without the useful stuff Labour promised. What a change eh?

    I think Clark was right about voting for a bloke with training wheels.

  18. burt 19

    Steve P.

    Anyway, F&P is a solid, profitable company just in need of some more capital. Rather than ‘bending the rules’ to let some foreign company take over F & P, why don’t we put up the cash like we did with Air NZ and keep the profits here, in New Zealand?

    No Steve, When I wanted to buy a washing machine, dishwasher etc over the years I’ve paid more for it than it cost F&P to make because we have had tariffs. When tariffs started to be removed F&P went crying to govt that Asian manufacturers were “dumping’ inferior goods and that was hurting their profit. As a result of this tariffs went back on. So once again we (the consumers) are left paying more than the goods are worth to protect F&P profits. F&P had a record profit year the year that special tariffs were slapped on Taiwan importers of “inferior’ good.

    (Inferior according to F&P note that all most people want is a machine that washes their clothes or their dishes and most people don’t use the 372.5 extra options that come with the “quality’ machine but not the “inferior’ machine )

    So, you say throw money at them but you also bagged them for putting profit ahead of local jobs when they announced they were shifting manufacturing off shore. IB went as far as to suggest we boycott their products If you want to keep them afloat why don’t you buy some shares yourself?

    I’ve paid through the nose for either F&P products or other products with inflated prices to protect F&P for many years now why should I continue to prop them up simply to help them generate enough cash to shift more of their operations off-shore?

  19. vto 20

    MP, many on here, including SP in this thread, constantly bang on about not keeping up with Rudd and Obama. That is spending more money. And putting payment off until the future, which is another form of debt. Which caused all of this in the first place. It just doesn’t make sense imo. That’s what I was getting at..

    Re politics and your question ‘where is the change?’ Well there is no Clark or Cullen or Peters. That is one very substantial part of the change that was voted for. So give that part a big tick.

    And there is certainly a change in approach to issues. Key is very different to Clark in how issues are attended to.

    And there is change in legislation – employment, RMA, etc. So the change is there. Whether or not it is good is another question and I think we know roughly what people’s views on that are.

    Re forward projects, bringing forward previously allocated work has quicker effects than starting new ones and I guess that is why that has been done. Makes sense, if you think stimulus is a good approach. Why would it not make sense?

  20. Matthew Pilott 21

    Why would it not make sense?

    because there are few second-order effects. You build a road, road builders get paid and spend more, and Aucklanders can get to Whangamata faster for holidays.

    You train people, you don’t pay a benefit, they are helping to maintain employment in the education sector, we increase the skills of our workforce, and it will be far more responsive to new growth.

    It’s not about keeping up with Obama and Rudd purely on monetary terms, but doing what we can smarter then we are now. What we’ve got is an incredibly cautious, conservative and reactionary approach. But that’s the real change people voted for. The examples you mention, while important, won’t necessarily have the impact of this issue. If they botch up the RMA and employment law, that can be fixed. If they botch NZs reaction to a recession, it will stay botched.

    That is spending more money. And putting payment off until the future, which is another form of debt. Which caused all of this in the first place. It just doesn’t make sense imo. That’s what I was getting at..

    About debt, I think it’s unrealistic to compare goverment debt to ride out a recession and prepare our country for growth in the future with people bankrupting themselves for plasma TVs, and taking negative equity loans under any circumstance. That’s what started this. Although i’m not promoting debt for the sake of it, nor advocating a high level – i think that a certail level, for good reason, will pay off now and in future.

    Your statement about personality politics is probably unfortunately true – those people are indeed gone, for better or worse.

  21. vto 22

    Well MP you had better tell SP that as he is the main one who keeps referring to the amounts and things that Rudd and Obama are concocting, and to needing stimulus etc.

    Re training people rather than straight out benefits – pass. Sounds good but sounds like that hoary old chestnut of trying to pick winners etc. Easy to mis-train etc. Don’t know really – not my area.

    Re second order effects I’m not quite sure. If a road gets built that frees up movement then a second order effect is that, for example, a person travelling to a meeting may spend one hour less in the traffic which frees up that hour for productive work.

    Re debt, you’re right there is a difference between private and public, but not much. The problem at the moment is that govts in the western world seem to be piling it on at a ridiculous rate. Printing money. Burdening future generations. It just all seems so messy and poorly thought out. Remember, govts got it wrong in the 1930’s so chances are they will get it wrong again – I mean that is their track record. They do things with the next election in mind of course (with a secondary eye only on the good of the country. don’t they.)

    Lordy I probably always sound like some constant govt complainer. Bloody govt this, bloody govt that. But on this issue that is the way it is imo.

    How do things come right? Here is one thing …

    Forget all I said above for a moment. I have just got off the phone from my solicitor who said a meeting yesterday with three banksters (love that word of travellerevs) indicated that the financial system was starting to loosen a bit. So perhaps the govt interventions are in fact starting to work?? Could be. Hope so.

  22. Draco T Bastard 23

    There is considerable disagreement amongst economists and the market generally about whether the massive stimulus packages will be successful in any case.

    The stimulus packages that are bailing out businesses are just propping up a failed system. I’m amazed that people still expect everything to be Ok once the stimulus is played – after all, it’s still the same economic system that doesn’t work.

  23. vto 24

    Draco, propping them up just long enough for those execs, directors and shareholders to formulate a plan of escape – for them and anything they can gleen before the final curtain. I would suspect.

    All thanks to the ever-suffering taxpayer, courtesy of the ever-opportunistic politician.

  24. burt 25

    Paying good money into failing companies to protect the best interests of the workers is folly. If a company is not viable then bail out it’s workers, sure… Give them emergency benefits perhaps and/or give them elevated threshold of borrowing for living expenses via student loans if they retrain. Investing in the people of this country is one thing, allowing the multi million dollar a year salary bills from the management team to suck on the public tit is not a good look.

  25. Felix 26

    burt we are in agreement, for the second time this year I think 🙂

    You might want to rephrase this though: “When I wanted to buy a washing machine, dishwasher etc over the years I’ve paid more for it than it cost F&P to make because we have had tariffs.”

    I don’t think F&P would have lasted long if they sold washing machines at cost.

  26. Felix,

    I was just going to say. Friggin hell Burt, where on the same page on this one.


    I am not fond of the callous side of Capitalism. The each for themselves attitude. We are humans and as such not designed to live in isolation and only out for number one.

    We are literally build to live in communities that usually share no matter what we are being told by the Money Masters.

    But if you are the proponent of the capitalist system it does not make for a nice picture if, when things go belly up after years of happy profiting, you appeal to the empathy of the village community part in our collective brain.

    According to old Maori rule, I have been told, you can have your share of the harvest if you came when it was time to plant and you partook when it was time to weed in the communal garden or even helping a friend with his garden.

    Well, F&P have only worked their own patch and had everybody work on it for small pay when the going was good and when they could work a patch with even cheaper labour the dropped their loyal workers and profited from the even cheaper workers and now it’s time to pay the price for their lack of loyalty. They didn’t work the communal patch and they can just drop dead as far as I’m concerned. The community needs all the resources themselves and we don’t have excess to help those who profiteered all these years.

    If Capitalism is all about making it on your own than they should have saved for a rainy day.


    I’d love to claim the term “bankster” for myself but it was a man by the name of Ferdinand Pecora, who was the chief counsel to the US Senate Committee on Banking charged with investigating the collapse of the banking system in 1930. The same committee also came up with these gems to describe the scams the banksters came up with: prestidgitation, double-shuffling and even honey-fugling and hornswoggling. LOL.

    These days the term Bankster is a mild one. Paul Craig Roberts, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan’s first term, Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal and a lifelong Republican voter calls them “shyster bankers” in his latest essay.

    One thing I would like to clear way though. Most bankers I know are honest hard working people who are responsible with money and they really try and do a fair job in the real economy and who have no idea what Wall street and the City of London are up to. I have banking friends who are just as confused and scared as the rest of us. The term Bankster is a term that describes the members of the small elite which rules Wall street and the City of London. The power behind the throne as it where.

    I consider John Key to be part of that world because he had a position in that world that made him an insider. He was the Global head for Forex for Merrill Lynch during some of the most scandalous and most manipulative episodes in the existence of Merrill Lynch. A scandal which centred around Merrill Lynch’s involvement in the Asian Crisis through their involvement with the LTCM hedgefund, a Forex betting scam. (Asian currencies being John Key’s speciality) and in the aftermath and known as the “Smiling Assassin” being invited as only one of four upon invitation only advisors to the privately owned Federal Reserve of New York in the most crucial time in the whole sorry history of the mess we are now embroiled in; from November 1999 until May 2001. Just after the last piece of banking regulation was removed and the banks could go all out in their destructive greedy rampage.

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