The Debt Bogey Returns

Written By: - Date published: 9:00 am, May 28th, 2009 - 32 comments
Categories: budget 2009, economy - Tags:

Seems this op-ed was off-message for one of our larger media outlets, we’re happy to run it:

_______________________________________

Alan Blinder, Professor of Public Affairs at Princeton recently warned Americans: ‘ Prematurely changing fiscal and monetary policies – from stepping hard on the accelerator to slamming on the brake – can be hazardous to the economy’s health’. He was talking about the US economy and urging the President to do two things. One is to resist the ‘deficit hawks’ agitating to lower US debt. The other is to learn the lessons of the 1936 depression when President Roosevelt , spooked by growing debt, chose to tighten spending. The faltering green-shoots of recovery immediately withered and died.

If Professor Blinder was a New Zealander, he might label Treasury as the deficit hawks to be resisted. He might also point to the 1991 budget as the history lesson from which we should learn.

The Treasury argues that we are at risk of a credit downgrade. To back this up they forecast debt to GDP ratio to 2023 of 75%. Forecasting over a 15 year period is so hairy that it would be dangerous to allow these numbers to influence policy especially in the midst of a recession that economists couldn’t even predict as recently as 2007.

Since the main role for Government debt is to smooth consumption over the business cycle, we would expect to see debt going up in bad times and coming down in good. This is the optimal debt management strategy. Therefore, the excessive focus on reducing deficit right now in order to control future Government debt is the worst possible timing.

Indeed, recent economic studies argue that the optimal quantity of debt might in fact be considerably higher than ours around two-thirds for the US economy. Therefore, rather than yielding to the deficit hawks, and undertaking dangerous fiscal tightening, the Minister ought to deliver an effective stimulus package directed at those sections of the economy that are most likely to respond with increased demand. While the current tax cuts were presented as a stimulus package, they went to high income earners who have a high propensity to save. There is little immediate ‘stimulus’ from such tax cuts. Instead a one-off payment to those who are suffering under the recession has the highest chance of being effective. This is the sort of package that Australia, US and Europe are undertaking.

One doesn’t have to be an economist to see that there is something fundamentally wrong with Government sacking employees during a recession. The PSA estimates that over 1,000 Public Service jobs were lost in the last six months. An environment of job insecurity has immediate detrimental effect on household spending. For every IRD employee who is made redundant, there are five or ten who fear redundancy and start cutting back spending. Given high household debt, such fears lead to a reduction in household spending which is far more pervasive than those directly affected by job losses. As we witnessed during the sub-prime meltdown, it is not the facts but the fears that drive markets. Businesses which rely on domestic household spending are suffering with record reduction in retail spending. Job insecurity harms these businesses.

Reading the 1990 pre-budget advise by Treasury, and the 2008 versions provide striking similarities. Both were written for a new National Government — the 1990 version was read by Ruth Richardson, the 2008 by Bill English. Both emphasise the high budget deficits being forecast, and urge the Government to respond to these deficits with spending restraints. Ruth Richardson, convinced that fiscal restraint was called for, produced the 1991 ‘Mother of all Budgets’. There followed the largest contraction in post-war New Zealand.

Treasury claims this is an important budget. In the midst of a recession Ministers and Treasury should be continually fine-tuning policy setting. Every morning, the Minister should be asking himself and his officials: is today the day for a mini-budget? Yearly budgets are crude tools for ‘ordinary times’. These are extra-ordinary times, where only continued vigilance, and real-time fiscal policy can have any hope of working.

Rhema Vaithianathan & Begoña Domínguez are both Senior Lecturers in Economics at the University of Auckland Business School

32 comments on “The Debt Bogey Returns ”

  1. gingercrush 1

    Oh no wonder Labour is using Rhema for Super City costings they are obviously far-left. If someone really thinks New Zealand should have government debt in the region of what the US has. I really fear for that person. Sure that person must have a commerce degree. Almost likely they have post-graduate qualifications/ But really New Zealand should have debt similar in ratio to what the United States has? Somehow I find that really dumbfounded.

    • Zetetic 1.1

      They’re both PhDs.

      But please, continue to share your wealth of knowledge with us gingercrush. Maybe you could elaborate on optimal debt ratios in small export-driven economies?

      • gingercrush 1.1.1

        We need a sustainable debt track.
        Debt’s not a huge problem but the less the better. The simple way to do that is forget tax cuts. Ideally, undo the previous ones too. But I suspect Key wants to keep his hundred bucks a week. Introduce a capital gains tax. Screw the property traders (see them in the paper already trying to create the next bubble). Capital gains will stop overinvestment into housing as well as keep debt under control. Oh, and raise taxes for the richest few percent like they did in the UK.

        Were you lying when you wrote this yesterday?

    • IrishBill 1.2

      Again I have to question your perception of economic reality. The above strikes me as a (quite conservative) orthodox economic analysis. I hadn’t realised how fringe-right you were until now, GC.

      • gingercrush 1.2.1

        Really? So you’re quite happy for this government to rack up debt levels to a similar ratio to the United States. You don’t find that troubling? So on top of high personal debt which is itself a huge problem for New Zealand you’d also be quite happy for New Zealand’s debt levels to be that high? How is huge government debt and huge personal; debt good for any economy?

        And why exactly is questioning such high debt levels fringe-right? If that is fringe-right you’re so far to the left that its beyond a joke.

        • IrishBill 1.2.1.1

          The post doesn’t suggest raising our debt to GDP ratio to that of the US. The fact you have to pretend it does to justify your claim it is far left (which I assume would make the current US government far left?) only shows how fringe you are.

          I would also point out that it was your claim that this orthodox economic analysis was “far left” that prompted me to make the observation your economic spectrum is out of whack with the rest of the world. I see nothing in your non-rebuttal that would cause me or any other right-thinking person on the street to question the veracity of that observation.

  2. vto 2

    Why are debt levels going to soar here in NZ? Is i because the govt is going to keep spending at, plus or minus, current levels with money it doesn’t have and tells us it wont be able to repay until 2020 or some such? If so, then that is just dumb. If there is, by dint of this meltdown, less money in the world then the govt (like every person with feet on the planet) should spend less. If that means less services etc then that is an unfortunate reality. I don’t think anyone should realistically expect that NZ’s living standards should keep going up forever. Or even stay the same. That ignores history.

  3. Lew 3

    vto,

    I don’t think anyone should realistically expect that NZ’s living standards should keep going up forever.

    Isn’t this perpetual state of growth the fundamental core of the ACT/National economic paradigm?

    L

    • vto 3.1

      Well yes it seems to be Lew. Not just for act/nat but for labour also. And I don’t know why – probably because to express the contrary view would spell political death. That whole perpetual growth thing definitely has flaws – a bit like anything perpetual, it doesnt actually exist.

  4. How on earth are these debt forecasts calculated anyway? Is it expected that we’ll be in constant recession for the next 15-20 years and our tax take won’t increase?

    Surely not…. I would hope.

  5. Tom Semmens 5

    One thing about Treasury that has always been a mystery to me. Their forecasts, first of the surplus then of the deficit, have been wildly out. So wildly out as to make their predictions useless. Almost all their forcasting and economic advice is straight out of a Randian la la land and is underpinned by a now hopelessly discredited and out of date economic theory that almost everyone outside the US Republican party moved on from a decade or more ago. Their “advice” could be written up as a guest post on Kiwiblog by anyone of about ten of Farrar’s loons, all for free and in about fifteen minutes. The Treasury’s ideological rigidity (and economic irrelevance) in the face of the real world is astonishing given they ensure they are the only source of advice the government has on economic matters.

    Yet somehow they retain the most highly paid staff in the civil service (completely untouched by any hint of job cutting) and somehow they move on from the Treasury with their teflon reputations intact to become hired guns like Graham Scott at thousands of dollars cost to the taxpayer. High priests of the market sucking the public tit as they preach “do as we say, not as we do.”

    I can only suppose they survive in the same way pedophile priests survive – ideological bedfellows will always look after their own, regardless of their real world sins.

  6. Dr Begoña Domínguez 6

    Gingercrush,
    Neither Rhema or I suggest that NZ’s government debt should jump up to the level of the US debt. What we say is that Treasury’s worries over NZ’s debt level are unfounded and come at the worst possible time. Well-established economic theory arguments say that debt should be used to smooth consumption over the cycle, it should increase now when we are at the bottom of the cycle. It should go down later when we are at the top of the cycle. Moreover, NZ’s level of debt is very low compared internationally.
    I suggest you read Aiyagari, S. R & E.R. McGrattan, 1998 ?The Optimum Quantity of Debt? Journal of Monetary Economics. 447-469 where they suggest that the optimal debt for the US is two-thirds. This is not fringe economics. The Journal of Monetary Economics is the top journal in Macro. These are top people in their field.
    Personally, I fear more people who do not take the time or have the ability to read an article carefully and moreover do not hesitate to use their unfounded opinions to insult the writers of the article.

    • IrishBill 6.1

      Fringe right wing troll owned by Dr of Economics. Biggest slap-down I’ve seen on a blog for a while.

    • gingercrush 6.2

      So you think Treasury’s concerns about government debt levels are unfounded? This despite a credit credit agency in Standard & Poor telling us that our government debt levels are a concern and that we risk a downgrade if our debt isn’t sorted out. What are the consequences of a downgrade by Standard and Poor? You of course know the consequences and are choosing to ignore them. In a time when businesses are struggling. In a time when individuals are struggling. Don’t you think interest rate hikes are the last things they need? If our economy is struggling why would you want to see it harder for business, banks, the government and individuals to borrow money? Interest rates would of course go up if our credit rating went down. This would be problematic for the economy and have real effects.

      It is of course not just Treasury saying there is a risk of a downgrade. S&P themselves are saying there is a risk of a downgrade. Do you think we should not be taking this seriously and thus should simply spend money? Have those stimulus packages the United States and others have done saw their economies recover again? How is their unemployment tracking? Are their economics still contracting? What about Europe and the stimuls packages they’re doing. Are they still not contracting? What about Japan. It has done several stimulus packages over several years and they have been shown not to work. After all, they had their worse contraction for their economy just recently. This despite them spending billions towards providing stimulus for their economy.

      Of course countries need some economic stimulus. No one actually doubts that. But the levels of spending other countries are doing for their economies haven’t exactly worked. They’re just increasing debts above levels that are sustainable. Without any real evidence that stimulus is working. You can’t really believe debt doesn’t matter. You can’t even abscribe how much debt New Zealand can have which is optimal.

      Bah an earlier post ot trying to rebut this and rather better than this rebuttal was wiped somehow. Not that I suggest either are any good.

      • Zaphod Beeblebrox 6.2.1

        Dr GC How can you definitively say they haven’t worked? There’s no way you can say what would have happened otherwise. Most of the US stimulus package hasn’t even been given over yet and you’re already proclaimimg it a failure.
        It will be a long time before we will be able to look at the effects of this recession, I guess the actions of governments in future will be measured by how well they looked after their citizens, how well they limited social unrest (crime, family breakdowns, suicides etc..) and how well they adapted to what is needed for the future

    • burt 6.3

      IB

      Not sure it was a slap-down, certainly a reiteration of the general Keynesian principle of govt working counter the business cycle.

      The issue that wasn’t addressed IMHO is that the adherence to that general principle seems to do little to manage the cycle.

      Grown and productivity have been the victims of the Labour govt simplistic ‘pay off debt’ approach. What could we change to change the cycle from one of simply repeating the same BS over and over again ?

  7. Tom Semmens 7

    Dr. Dominguez – if you have a moment, could you comment on the quality of advice given by Treasurry? is it normal, for example, for a government in a liberal democracy to have only one source of economic advice? And is it normal in the early 21st century for that government to have its sole source of advice so completely captured by such rigid economic orthodoxy as comes from our Treasury?

    I am curious to know if we are stuck with something unusual or if it is a standard phenomena across the OECD.

  8. Dr Begoña Domínguez 8

    Tom Semmens, I am concerned about the quality of the advice given by Treasury in this instance. I am worried about the lack of economic arguments behind their advice. I am also concerned about the quality of their forecasts and I doubt there is a sound economic model behind.
    My experience in Europe tells me this is not a standard phenomena. In the last decade, governments are relying more and more on independent advisory groups formed by top professionals of different fields. I know many of the Economists who are working for the Economic Bureau of the Prime Minister of Spain and they are top Economists in the world. I believe this practise is improving greatly the quality of policy making in Europe and it would be great to see the same movement in NZ.

  9. burt 9

    ” Prematurely changing fiscal and monetary policies – from stepping hard on the accelerator to slamming on the brake – can be hazardous to the economy’s health’

    Yes exactly. Look at the mess that was created with the labour party had their famous David Lange tea break during the reforms of the 80’s. Labour got too scared of loosing an election and pulled on the reform handbrake.

    So, we re-tried the monopoly state provider model one more time and it failed again like it has every time. Today we get to see if National has the balls to chuck out some of Labour’s policies designed to entrench welfare dependency in the middle class.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.1

      Well, when the businesses start paying cost price or better to maintain societal living standards then we can get rid of the governments subsidy of business commonly referred to as Working for Families.

      Dependence is guaranteed – it cannot be got rid of. We usually refer to it as interdependence though. What you refer to as welfare dependence is society being interdependent upon itself rather than the alternative, which you seem to support, where everyone is truly and fully dependent upon the rich. Such a dependence really will bring about another revolution as almost everybodies living standard takes a dive.

  10. Tom Semmens 10

    Dr. Dominguez – very interesting, thank you. I note that John Key has got himself an ” independent scientific advisor” (Professor Peter Gluckman), but I would be concerned if the government turned increasingly to third parties to provide it with advice. It seems just another step along the road of either sidelining or politicising the public service. After all, outsourcing simply moves accountability for the advice given out of the public service and into the private or public-private sector and eventually you’ll just end up with an unsatifactory situation such as exists in the United States, where the battleground has shifted from an open, accountable public service to highly politicised appointments of unaccountable people to key advisory positions.

    I think I would prefer the government to set up other centres of economic policy advice within the civil service. Before the Rogernomics revolution, such an alternative body existed in (of all places) the Ministry Of Works. tellingly, when Rogernomics revolution began the MoW policy advice unit was amongst the very first targets of the Treasury ideologues.

    Treasury believes in the free market – but cannot tolerate any competition to itself in the marketplace of ideas. Given how much Treasury hates such independent policy units, it may be a good idea to start lobbying to have such a unit set up outside Treasury.

  11. Deepred 11

    For the record, Standard & Poors are under investigation by the US Securities & Exchange Commission for various reasons, including the Subprime Chernobyl:

    http://www.yourlawyer.com/articles/read/15544

    S&P also got its predictions horribly wrong with the Icelandic meltdown, and apparently it was also in denial about it.

  12. StephenR 12

    In the last decade, governments are relying more and more on independent advisory groups formed by top professionals of different fields

    This has been the case for a few decades in the US too, except they’re called thinktanks. Allows a government to choose which type of independent advice they’d like to receive too, wink wink.

  13. Rhema Vaithianathan 13

    A couple of points. Yes, fiscal policy will affect interest rates. That’s why there is monetary policy – to ensure that the interest rate effects of fiscal policy are mitigated. So, any change in fiscal position requires re-setting of monetary policy. This is always the case – and this is the challenge of optimal monetary and fiscal policies. Looking purely at the first round effects on interest rates (as I have heard the Prime Minister do) without subsequent effect on OCR is misleading.

    Any trader worth their salt doesn’t need to look at S & P, but at the fundamentals. These are what drive the cost of borrowing. It is a live debate in economics as to whether credit downgrades per se have a big impact on the economy – as opposed to those events which lead to the downgrade.

    The Irish experience being used to estimate the cost of credit is misguided. There are so many differences – including the presence of toxic debt in their system, and the need for large bailouts which sees their debt rising to 100% of GDP. Even in the absence of a downgrade, we would have expected their country-specific risk (i.e. the premium required to lend to Ireland) increase.

  14. r0b 14

    It’s great to see academics contributing posts and joining in the discussion here. As the academic role includes “critic and conscience” of society, I would have expected to be seeing more of this by now.

    So here’s a call to academics, this is a “new” medium for disseminating and discussing ideas – get in to it!

  15. burt 15

    I think RedLogix made a excellent summary of the debt situation here.

    http://www.thestandard.org.nz/national-has-blown-it/#comment-129582

    Anymore debt and our credit rating gets hammered, and cost across the board rise. Gets worse than that and no-one will lend to us at any price.

    Not too many commentators have realised the significance of the $50 billion dollar ‘hole in govt accounts over three years’ announcement this week……

    There will be no ‘stimulus’ here in NZ . English has no choice but to cut expenditure and massively.

  16. The first step when faced with debts you cannot repay is to face up to the fact that you need help and do not bury your head in the sand. The next is to work out what you have coming into the home and going out. See where you can make savings which would allow you money towards paying off your debts. Following this you need to get help and advice and answers to your debt management questions.

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    4 days ago
  • Policy by panic
    Back in March, Ombudsman Peter Boshier resigned when he hit the statutory retirement age of 72, leaving the country in the awkward (and legally questionable) position of having him continue as a temporay appointee. It apparently took the entire political system by surprise - as evinced by Labour's dick move ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • PSA: NZ's Richest Company, Zuru, Sucks
    Hi,Today the New Zealand press is breathlessly reporting that the owners of toy company Zuru are officially New Zealand’s wealthiest people: Mat and Nick Mowbray worth an estimated $20 billion between them.While the New Zealand press loses its shit celebrating this Kiwi success story, this is a Webworm reminder that ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    4 days ago
  • Bernard's Dawn Chorus and pick 'n' mix for Monday, June 10
    TL;DR: The six things to note in Aotearoa-NZ’s political economy around housing, climate and poverty in the past day to 8:36 pm on Monday, June 10 were:20,000 protested against the Fast-track approval bill on Saturday in Auckland, but PM Christopher Luxon says ‘sorry, but not sorry’ about the need for ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    4 days ago
  • In Defence of Kāinga Ora
    Given the headlines around the recent findings of the ‘independent’ review of Kāinga Ora by Bill English, you might assume this post will be about social housing, Kāinga Ora’s most prominent role. While that is indeed something that requires defending, I want to talk about the other core purpose of ...
    Greater AucklandBy Connor Sharp
    4 days ago
  • Baby You're A Rich Man
    “How does it feel to beOne of the beautiful peopleNow that you know who you areWhat do you want to beAnd have you traveled very far?Far as the eye can see”Yesterday the ACT party faithful were regaled with craven boasts, sneers, and demands for even more at their annual rally.That ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    4 days ago
  • Stopping a future Labour government from shutting down gas exploration
    A defiant Resources Minister Shane Jones has responded to Saturday’s environmental protests by ending Labour’s offshore oil exploration ban and calling for long-term contracts with any successful explorers. The purpose would be to prevent a future Labour Government from reversing any licence the explorers might hold. Jones sees a precedent ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    4 days ago
  • 2024 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #23
    A listing of 32 news and opinion articles we found interesting and shared on social media during the past week: Sun, June 2, 2024 thru Sat, June 8, 2024. Story of the week Our Story of the Week is Yale Climate Connection's Resources for debunking common solar and wind myths, by ...
    5 days ago
  • Fission by the river
    This is where we ate our lunch last Wednesday. Never mind your châteaux and castles and whatnot, we like to enjoy a baguette in the shadow of a nuclear power plant; a station that puts out more than twice as much as Manapouri using nothing more than tiny atoms to bring ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    5 days ago
  • Fact Brief – Is the ocean acidifying?
    Skeptical Science is partnering with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. This fact brief was written by John Mason in collaboration with members from the Gigafact team. You can submit claims you think need checking via the tipline. Is the ocean acidifying? Acidification of oceans ...
    6 days ago
  • 20,000+ on Queen St.
    The largest protest I ever went on was in the mid 90s. There were 10,000 people there that day, and I’ve never forgotten it. An enormous mass of people, chanting together. Stretching block after block, bringing traffic to a halt.But I can’t say that’s the biggest protest I’ve ever been ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    6 days ago
  • Josh Drummond's Columns
    Hi there,I wanted to put all of Josh Drummond’s Webworm pieces all in one place. I love that he writes for Webworm — and all of these are a good read!David.Why Are So Many “Christians” Hellbent on Being Horrible?Why do so many objectively hideous people declare themselves “Christian”?Meeting the Master ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    6 days ago
  • Bernard’s Saturday soliloquy and weekend Pick ‘n’ Mix for June 8/9
    Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: On reflection, the six things to note in Aotearoa-NZ’s political economy around housing, climate and poverty this week were:The Government-driven freeze in building new classrooms, local roads and water networks in order to save cash for tax cuts is frustrating communities facing massive population ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • The no-vision thing
    Hello! Here comes the Saturday edition of More Than A Feilding, catching you up on the past somewhat interrupted week. Still on the move!Share Read more ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    6 days ago
  • When Journalists are Disingenuous
    Hi,One of the things I like the most about Webworm is to be able to break down the media and journalism a little, and go behind the scenes.This is one of those times.Yesterday an email arrived in my inbox from journalist Jonathan Milne, who is managing editor at Newsroom.I don’t ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    6 days ago
  • Me, elsewhere: Just say you’ll do the thing
    Wrote something over at 1/200 on a familiar theme of mine: The way we frame the economy as a separate, sacred force which must be sacrificed to, the way we talk about criminals as invaders who must be repelled, the constant othering of people on the benefit, people not in ...
    Boots TheoryBy Stephanie Rodgers
    7 days ago
  • A Voyage Among the Vandals: Accepted
    A nice bit of news today: my 4600-word historical fantasy-horror piece, A Voyage Among the Vandals, has been accepted by Phobica Books (https://www.phobicabooks.co.uk/books) for their upcoming Pirate Horror anthology, Shivering Timbers. This one is set in the Mediterranean, during the mid-fifth century AD. Notable for having one of history’s designated ...
    7 days ago
  • Ministerial conflicts of interest
    Since the National government came to power, it has been surrounded by allegations of conflicts of interest. Firstly, there's the fast-track law, which concentrates power in the hands of three Ministers, some of whom have received donations from companies whose projects they will be deciding on. Secondly, there's the close ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • The 2024 Budget Forecasts Are Gloomy Prognosis About The Next Three Years.
    There was no less razzamatazz about the 2024 Budget than about earlier ones. Once again the underlying economic analysis got lost. It deserves more attention.Just to remind you, the Budget Economic and Fiscal Update (BEFU), is the Treasury’s independent assessment and so can be analysed by other competent economists (although ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    7 days ago
  • A government that can't see twenty feet ahead
    There are two failings that consistently characterise a National government. One is a lack of imagination, the other is their willingness to look after their mates, no matter what harm it might do to everyone else.This is how we come to have thousands of enormous trucks carving up our roads. ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    1 week ago
  • A post I hope is incorrect
    In May, we learned that National MP David MacLeod had "forgotten" to declare $178,000 in electoral donations. Filing a donation return which is false in any material particular is a crime, and the Electoral Commission has now referred MacLeod to police, since they're the only people who are allowed to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Māori Cannot Re-Write New Zealand’s Constitution By Stealth.
    The Kotahitanga Parliament 1897: A Māori Parliament – at least in the guise of a large and representative body dedicated to describing the shape of New Zealand’s future from a Māori perspective – would be a very good idea.THE DEMAND for a “Māori Parliament” needs to be carefully unpicked. Some Pakeha, ...
    1 week ago
  • Cowpats and Colonials.
    Dumbtown, is how my friend Gerard refers to people like ZB listeners - he’s not wrong.Normally on a Friday I start by looking at Mike Hosking’s moronic reckons of the week which he vomits down the throats of his audience like helpless baby birds in a nest, grateful for the ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • Gordon Campbell on cutting the sick leave of vulnerable workers
    Should sick leave be part and parcel of the working conditions from Day One on the job, just like every other health and safety provision? Or should access to sick leave be something that only gradually accumulates, depending on how long a worker has been on the payroll? If enacted ...
    WerewolfBy lyndon
    1 week ago
  • Nobody Move: Ageing Boomers, Laurie & Les, Talk Politics.
    So long as we live in a democracy, economic policy can never be anything other than social-democratic.“HEH!”, snorted Laurie, as he waved his debit card over the EFTPOS machine. “Same price as last week. I guess budgets aren’t what they used to be.”“I wouldn’t know,” replied the young barman, wearily, ...
    1 week ago
  • In Search Of Unity.
    Kotahitanga: New Zealand’s future belongs to those who do not fear a nation carved out of unity and solidarity, and are willing to trust the carvers. Some New Zealanders will be required to step up, and others, perhaps for the first time in their lives, will be expected to step ...
    1 week ago
  • Weekly Roundup 7-June-2024
    Welcome to another Friday roundup! Here are some recent links and stories that caught our eye, perfectly timed for your watercooler discussions and weekend reading. As always feel free to share more in the comments. Our header image this week is by Patrick Reynolds, and shows Te Komititanga from above. ...
    Greater AucklandBy Greater Auckland
    1 week ago
  • The Hoon around the week to June 7
    As Workplace Relations and Safety Minister, ACT’s Brooke van Velden is fronting proposed changes to sick pay regulations and The Holiday Act. Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: The podcast above of the weekly ‘hoon’ webinar for paying subscribers features talking with:The Kākā’s climate correspondent talking about the ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • Did we boil the oceans by cutting pollution?
    Lowering aerosol emissions from shipping has altered clouds, with potentially drastic effects. Photo: Getty ImagesTL;DR: Here’s the top six news items of note in climate news for Aotearoa-NZ this week, and a discussion above between Bernard Hickey and The Kākā’s climate correspondent Cathrine Dyer:New evidence is increasingly pointing at efforts ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #23 2024
    Open access notables Abrupt reduction in shipping emission as an inadvertent geoengineering termination shock produces substantial radiative warming, Yuan et al., Communications Earth & Environment: Human activities affect the Earth’s climate through modifying the composition of the atmosphere, which then creates radiative forcing that drives climate change. The warming effect ...
    1 week ago
  • Fragments
    The best observation I’ve read this week about the deep, profound harm Trump is doingTrump has hurled threats and smears at witnesses, jurors and the judge (including his family)... [he] has tried to intimidate witnesses and delegitimize the New York courts as corrupt. In continuing to incite his mob (that ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    1 week ago
  • March for Nature
    Do do do do do do do doDo do do do do doDi di di di di di di di di di diNature enter me…In 2018 the Labour lead government banned new oil and gas exploration in Aotearoa. A change welcomed by those who care deeply for our environment and ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • Bernard’s Dawn Chorus and pick ‘n’ mix for Thursday, June 6
    The Transport Minister is trying to push through urgent legislation that would allow him to change emissions standards for car imports without approval from Parliament, after only consulting car importers. Photo: Lynn GrievesonTL;DR: Just as two major reports showed fossil fuel burning was warming the planet to dangerous levels and ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • A Better Broadway: Act 2
    This is a guest post by reader Grant A, the second of a pair about how to fix Broadway. If you missed the beginning of the show, here’s the link to Act 1 from yesterday. Yesterday, I discussed changing traffic circulation around Broadway in Newmarket. This included implementing a car-free ...
    Greater AucklandBy Guest Post
    1 week ago
  • National breaks another health promise
    National has broken another manifesto health promise, apparently to save only $550,000. It will now train an additional 25 med students next year rather than the 50 it promised. This comes on top of the delays caused by National’s coalition partners in pushing ahead with the Waikato Medical School and ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    1 week ago
  • Climate Adam: Coping as the world’s best known climate scientist
    This video includes conclusions of the creator climate scientist Dr. Adam Levy. It is presented to our readers as an informed perspective. Please see video description for references (if any). Katharine Hayhoe is quite possibly the world's most famous climate scientist. She's produced wide ranging research, and communicated climate change with ...
    1 week ago
  • SIS “evidence” isn’t, again
    Back in 2016, then-Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne cancelled a New Zealand woman's passport, claiming she was a terrorist. The basis for his decision was a secret briefing by the SIS, which claimed that if she was allowed to travel, the woman would "engage with individuals who encourage acts of ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • As Low As You Go
    Taking you as low as you goAs low as you goA sense of Déjà vu this morning. How many times have I begun a newsletter, “just when you thought they couldn’t go any lower…” Only for the groundhog to reappear, more pissed off than the day before.Another day with headlines ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • Bernard's Dawn Chorus and pick 'n' mix for Wednesday June 5
    TL;DR: The public health costs of human-caused air pollution in Aotearoa-NZ is estimated at $38.8 billion a year because it kills 3,300 people each year, which is almost ten times more than the death toll on roads from accidents. Yet the Ministry for the Environment has just one staff member ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • A Better Broadway: Act 1
    This is the first of a two-part guest post by Grant A, a long time reader and commenter with a keen interest in all things urban, especially cycling and public transport. He’s been thinking about how to fix Broadway. Stay tuned for Act 2! Readers might remember the pre-Christmas traffic snarl-ups in ...
    Greater AucklandBy Guest Post
    1 week ago
  • Road trance
    Sometimes technology is your friend and sometimes it can’t be bothered with you. Once you’re away from home and your dependable wifi, well, there’s no telling what will happen. I’ve been going in and out of high-speed and low-speed no-speed Internet pockets all over England and France and look, I’m ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    1 week ago
  • You Can't Undo Fake News
    Hi,I’ve been thinking a lot about Corey Harris, the 44-year old man who went viral after Zooming into his court appearance while driving. The headlines generated were basically all the same: “Man With Suspended Driver's License Dials Into Court Hearing While Driving”. The headlines said it all, and most people ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    1 week ago

  • Government delivers landmark specialist schools investment
    The coalition Government is delivering record levels of targeted investment in specialist schools so children with additional needs can thrive. As part of Budget 24, $89 million has been ringfenced to redevelop specialist facilities and increase satellite classrooms for students with high needs. This includes: $63 million in depreciation funding ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 hours ago
  • Major health and safety consultation begins
    A substantial consultation on work health and safety will begin today with a roadshow across the regions over the coming months, says Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Brooke van Velden.  This the first step to deliver on the commitment to reforming health and safety law and regulations, set out in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 hours ago
  • Growing the potential of New Zealand’s forestry sector in partnership
    Forestry Minister Todd McClay, today announced the start of the Government’s plan to restore certainty and confidence in the forestry and wood processing sector. “This government will drive investment to unlock the industry’s economic potential for growth,” Mr McClay says. “Forestry’s success is critical to rebuilding New Zealand’s economy, boosting ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 hours ago
  • Government cancels forestry ETS annual service charges for 2023-24
    Annual service charges in the forestry Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) will be cancelled for 2023/24, Forestry Minister Todd McClay says. “The sector has told me the costs imposed on forestry owners by the previous government were excessive and unreasonable and I agree,” Mr McClay says. “They have said that there ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 hours ago
  • Speech to the LGNZ Infrastructure Symposium
    Introduction Thank you for having me here today and welcome to Wellington, the home of the Hurricanes, the next Super Rugby champions. Infrastructure – the challenge This government has inherited a series of big challenges in infrastructure. I don’t need to tell an audience as smart as this one that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 hours ago
  • Government boosts Agriculture and food trade with China
    Trade and Agriculture Minister Todd McClay and Food Safety Minister Andrew Hoggard welcomed outcomes to boost agricultural and food trade between New Zealand and China. A number of documents were signed today at Government House that will improve the business environment between New Zealand and China, and help reduce barriers, including on infant formula ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    22 hours ago
  • NZ and China launch Services Trade Negotiations
    Trade Minister Todd McClay, and China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao, today announced the official launch of Negotiations on Services Trade between the two countries.  “The Government is focused on opening doors for services exporters to grow the New Zealand’s economy,” Mr McClay says.  As part of the 2022 New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement Upgrade ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    22 hours ago
  • Prime Minister Luxon meets with Premier Li
    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang at Government House in Wellington today.  “I was pleased to welcome Premier Li to Wellington for his first official visit, which marks 10 years since New Zealand and China established a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership,” Mr Luxon says. “The Premier and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    22 hours ago
  • Government and business tackling gender pay gap
    The coalition Government is taking action to reduce the gender pay gap in New Zealand through the development of a voluntary calculation tool. “Gender pay gaps have impacted women for decades, which is why we need to continue to drive change in New Zealand,” Acting Minister for Women Louise Upston ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    24 hours ago
  • Funding Boost for Rural Support Trusts
    The coalition Government is boosting funding for Rural Support Trusts to provide more help to farmers and growers under pressure, Rural Communities Minister Mark Patterson announced today. “A strong and thriving agricultural sector is crucial to the New Zealand economy and one of the ways to support it is to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Latest data shows size of public service decreasing
    Spending on contractors and consultants continues to fall and the size of the Public Service workforce has started to decrease after years of growth, according to the latest data released today by the Public Service Commission. Workforce data for the quarter from 31 December 23 to 31 March 24 shows ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Speech to the Law Association
    Thank you to the Law Association for inviting me to speak this morning. As a former president under its previous name — the Auckland District Law Society — I take particular satisfaction in seeing this organisation, and its members, in such good heart. As Attorney-General, I am grateful for these ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • 25 years on, NZ reaffirms enduring friendship with Timor Leste
    New Zealand is committed to working closely with Timor-Leste to support its prosperity and resilience, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.   “This year is the 25th anniversary of New Zealand sending peacekeepers to Timor-Leste, who contributed to the country’s stabilisation and ultimately its independence,” Mr Peters says.    “A quarter ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Inquiry requested into rural banking
    Promoting robust competition in the banking sector is vital to rebuilding the economy, Finance Minister Nicola Willis says.  “New Zealanders deserve a banking sector that is as competitive as possible. Banking services play an important role in our communities and in the economy. Kiwis rely on access to lending when ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Ministry for Regulation targets red tape to keep farmers and growers competitive
    Regulation Minister David Seymour, Environment Minister Penny Simmonds, and Food Safety Minister Andrew Hoggard have today announced a regulatory sector review on the approval process for new agricultural and horticultural products.    “Red tape stops farmers and growers from getting access to products that have been approved by other OECD countries. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Government to reverse blanket speed limit reductions
    The Coalition Government will reverse Labour’s blanket speed limit reductions by 1 July 2025 through a new Land Transport Rule released for public consultation today, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says.  The draft speed limit rule will deliver on the National-ACT coalition commitment to reverse the previous government’s blanket speed limit ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Chair appointments for NZSO, CNZ and NZ On Air
    Minister Paul Goldsmith is making major leadership changes within both his Arts and Media portfolios. “I am delighted to announce Carmel Walsh will be officially stepping into the role of Chair of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, having been acting Chair since April,” Arts Minister Paul Goldsmith says.  “Carmel is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Government focus on long-term food, fibre growth
    Food and fibre export revenue is tipped to reach $54.6 billion this year and hit a record $66.6b in 2028 as the Government focuses on getting better access to markets and cutting red tape, Agriculture Minister Todd McClay and Oceans and Fisheries Minister Shane Jones say. “This achievement is testament ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Govt consulting on cutting red tape for exporters
    A new export exemption proposal for food businesses demonstrates the coalition Government’s commitment to reducing regulatory barriers for industry and increasing the value of New Zealand exports, which gets safe New Zealand food to more markets, says Food Safety Minister Andrew Hoggard.  “The coalition Government has listened to the concerns ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New Zealand and Philippines elevating relationship
    New Zealand and Philippines are continuing to elevate our relationship, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.   “The leaders of New Zealand and Philippines agreed in April 2024 to lift our relationship to a Comprehensive Partnership by 2026,” Mr Peters says. “Our visit to Manila this week has been an excellent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Paid Parental Leave increase to help families
    Workplace Relations and Safety Minister, Brooke van Velden says paid parental leave increase from 1 July will put more money in the pockets of Kiwi parents and give them extra support as they take precious time off to bond with their newborns. The increase takes effect from 1 July 2024 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Defence increases UN Command commitment
    The number of New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel deployed to the Republic of Korea is increasing, Defence Minister Judith Collins and Foreign Minister Winston Peters announced today.  NZDF will deploy up to 41 additional personnel to the Republic of Korea, increasing the size of its contribution to the United ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New Zealand to attend 'Summit on Peace in Ukraine' in Switzerland
    New Zealand will be represented at the Summit on Peace in Ukraine by Minister Mark Mitchell in Switzerland later this week.    “New Zealand strongly supports Ukraine’s efforts to build a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace,” Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.   “Minister Mitchell is a senior Cabinet Minister and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Big step forward for M.bovis programme
    Farmers’ hard work is paying off in the fight against Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) with the move to a national pest management plan marking strong progress in the eradication effort, says Biosecurity Minister Andrew Hoggard.  “The plan, approved by the Coalition Government, was proposed by the programme partners DairyNZ, Beef ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Build To Rent opening welcomed by Housing Minister
    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and Housing Minister Chris Bishop formally opened a new Build to Rent development in Mt Wellington this morning. “The Prime Minister and I were honoured to cut the ribbon of Resido, New Zealand’s largest Build to Rent development to date.  “Build to Rent housing, like the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Agriculture to come out of the ETS
    The Government will deliver on its election commitment to take agriculture out of the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS) and will establish a new Pastoral Sector Group to constructively tackle biogenic methane, Coalition Government Agriculture and Climate Change Ministers say. Agriculture Minister Todd McClay says New Zealand farmers ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Luxon Tokyo-bound for political and business visit
    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon will travel to Japan from 16-20 June, his first visit as Prime Minister.   “Japan is incredibly important to New Zealand's prosperity. It is the world’s fourth largest economy, and our fourth largest export destination.  “As you know, growing the economy is my number one priority. A strong economy means ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Bayly travels to Singapore for scam prevention meetings
    Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Andrew Bayly, travels to Singapore today to attend scam and fraud prevention meetings. “Scams are a growing international problem, and we are not immune in New Zealand. Organised criminal networks operate across borders, and we need to work with our Asia-Pacific partners to tackle ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • More help for homeowners impacted by severe weather
    People who were displaced by severe weather events in 2022 and 2023 will be supported by the extension of Temporary Accommodation Assistance through to 30 June 2025. Social Development and Employment Minister Louise Upston says the coalition Government is continuing to help to those who were forced out of their ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government to reverse oil and gas exploration ban
    Removing the ban on petroleum exploration beyond onshore Taranaki is part of a suite of proposed amendments to the Crown Minerals Act to deal with the energy security challenges posed by rapidly declining natural gas reserves, Resources Minister Shane Jones says. “Natural gas is critical to keeping our lights on ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New Zealand and Malaysia to intensify connections
    New Zealand and Malaysia intend to intensify their long-standing, deep connections, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.    “Malaysia is one of New Zealand’s oldest friends in South-East Asia – and both countries intend to get more out of the relationship," Mr Peters says.   "Our connections already run deep and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Ending contracted emergency housing motels in Rotorua
    The end of Contracted Emergency Housing (CEH) motels in Rotorua is nearing another milestone as the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announces it will not renew consents for six of the original 13 motels, Associate Housing Minister Tama Potaka says. The government is committed to stop using CEH ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • First Home Grant closure exemptions
    The Government is providing a narrow exemption from the discontinuation of the First Home Grant for first home buyers who may face unfair situations as a result, Housing Minister Chris Bishop says. “The First Home Grant scheme was closed with immediate effect on 22 May 2024, with savings being reprioritised ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Faster consenting for flood protection projects in Hawke's Bay
    Work to increase flood resilience in Hawke’s Bay can start sooner, thanks to a new fast consenting process, Minister for Emergency Management and Recovery Mark Mitchell and Environment Minister Penny Simmonds say.  “Faster consenting means work to build stop banks, spillways and other infrastructure can get underway sooner, increasing flood ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Judge Craig Coxhead and Nathan Milner newest Māori Land Court appointments
    Tangata tū tangata ora, tangata noho tangata mate. Minister for Māori Development Tama Potaka today announced acting Deputy Chief Judge Craig Coxhead as the new Deputy Chief Judge, and Nathan Milner as Judge of the Māori Land Court. "I want to congratulate Judge Coxhead and Mr Milner on their appointments ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government signs Indo-Pacific Economic agreements to boost trade
    Trade Minister Todd McClay and Climate Change Minister Simon Watts, today signed three Indo Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) agreements that will boost investment, grow New Zealand’s digital and green economies and increase trade between New Zealand and the 14 IPEF partners. IPEF’s partners represent 40 per cent of global GDP ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government signs Indo-Pacific Economic agreements to boost trade and cooperation
    Trade Minister Todd McClay and Climate Change Minister Simon Watts, today signed three Indo Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) agreements that will boost investment, grow New Zealand’s digital and green economies and increase trade between New Zealand and the 14 IPEF partners. IPEF’s partners represent 40 per cent of global GDP ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Visit to Viet Nam strengthens ties
    New Zealand and Viet Nam are focused on strengthening cooperation by making progress on mutually beneficial opportunities, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says. “Viet Nam matters enormously to New Zealand," Mr Peters says. "Our countries enjoy broad cooperation, in such areas as defence, security, trade, education and tourism. We are ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government delivers funding boost to fix potholes
    The Coalition Government is delivering on its commitment to boost funding for pothole prevention, with indicative funding levels confirmed by NZTA showing a record increase in funding to help fix potholes on our State Highways and Local Roads, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says.  The NZTA Board has today confirmed indicative ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government making fuel resilience a priority
    The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will halt work on procuring reserve diesel stock and explore other ways to bolster New Zealand’s diesel resilience, Associate Energy Minister Shane Jones says. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) will also begin work on changes to the minimum fuel stockholding ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago

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