When he was Don Brash’s campaign manager, Steven Joyce used to talk about the ‘optics’ being what matters. Well, let’s consider the optics of a fat, bald old man personally insulting three good-looking young journalists every time they ask him sensible questions. If I were Joyce’s media minder, I would have had my head in my hands throughout Joyce’s appearance on The Nation this morning.
Beyond the optics, here’s some interesting facts that have come out:
The tradeable sector (that’s our exporters and our domestic companies that compete against importers), which National used to slam Labour on because it went into recession in 2005, has stayed in recession under National. Our high dollar means our exporters can’t compete overseas and our domestic businesses get undercut by importers. Joyce dismissed every option to fix the exchange rate.
Joyce thinks we need to import more capital to grow. Does he realise that we export more capital each year than we import? Our $10 billion of profits flows overseas each year. We import about $8 billion a year to finance our current account deficit. It’s often said that we ‘live beyond our means’ but, in truth, we earn more from exports than we spend on imports – the current account deficit isn’t caused by a trade imbalance, it’s caused by all the profits flowing offshore.
Our Economic Development Minister thinks there’s no over-investment in housing, no speculative housing bubble, in New Zealand. Madness. It’s like spending all your time tuning up your car’s engine (or, in Joyce’s case, talking about how the car’s engine needs to be tuned) and then driving with the handbrake on.
The one new idea Joyce has mentioned is a piece of spin. Replacing the ‘100% Pure’ brand with a much vaguer ‘New Zealand story’ brand. Yeah, that’ll fix the problem – which is what again? Oh yeah, too much foreign ownership of high profit New Zealand assets.
No wonder unemployment is at an 18-year high under these clowns.