The recession, graphically

Written By: - Date published: 12:22 pm, December 23rd, 2008 - 42 comments
Categories: economy, national/act government - Tags:

OK, one last graph for the year.

The latest GDP data isn’t pretty, a 0.4% contraction of the economy in the September quarter. It’s the third quarter of contraction in a row driven by the drought, oil prices, and the credit crunch. The ongoing international financial turmoil means we are likely to continue in recession well into next year. Still waiting on that plan to turn things round. Guess the Nats are too busy approving the killing of more endangered sea lions.

Now, I know the thread off this is going to be one long blame game. So, here’s something to ponder – GDP per capita from 1987 to now.

gdp

all-threeGives some perspective. While the economy is contracting it has been pretty shallow, especially compared to the 90s recessions. We’re still better off on average than in 2006.

But remember, too, that it’s not just the size of the pie, it’s how it is cut up. As we’ve seen, workers get a smaller slice under National’s anti-worker policies.

With a continuing recession, rising unemployment, and an anti-worker government attacking wages, she’s looking like a tough year ahead for ordinary Kiwis.

Not sure that John Key giving himself a hundred dollar a week tax cut is going to help much, either.

[for a fuller explanation of the graph to the left, see this post. Bascially, circle is the size of the economy in 1991, 2000, and 2008, and the red sector is the portion of GDP going to workers]

42 comments on “The recession, graphically”

  1. Tane 1

    Dude, link’s broken.

  2. ieuan 2

    Geez you started so well with a big picture look at growth (man things must have been grim in 1991-1993) and even added a bit of humour with the ‘seal’ thing but you can’t stop yourself can you?

    ‘An anti-worker government attacking wages’, ‘giving himself a hundred dollar a week tax cut’ if the Nats are so horrible how did they get 45% of the vote?

  3. Daveski 3

    Naturally, no reference to the respective economic conditions faced by the respective governments. Still, nice graph 🙂

    From a Labour perspective, it was a good election to lose.

  4. Chess Player 4

    What is the pie chart showing, exactly? There is no legend.

  5. Tane 5

    It’s workers’ share of the economy, taken from an earlier post.

  6. Santi 6

    A hospital pass from socialist Labour. The toxic duo of Clark & Cullen will be remembered as the undertakers of the NZ economy.

    [lprent: That is a canned line worthy of a troll. Please desist and write something worth reading]

  7. RedLogix 7

    CP:

    The pie graph is based on a well established economic measure known as the “percentage of GDP received as employee renumeration”, ie wages and salary. It’s actually fairly easy to measure and most countries have good records going back many decades. It’s another comparison with Australia we won’t hear from John Key anytime soon either, because theirs is about 10% higher than ours.

  8. the sprout 8

    “Still waiting on that plan to turn things round. Guess the Nats are too busy”

    Well so far they’ve made it easier for people to get fired.

  9. vto 9

    I think my brain has finally sputtered to a halt. Can’t think of anything to say except Merry Christmas and Happy New year!

    [lprent: I know the feeling. Oh well I get a bit of a break before starting the next job in Jan]

  10. Ag 10

    You think the recession will end next year?

    That’s hopeful. I don’t think things will ever be quite the same.

  11. Joshua 11

    Wait till the next recession, caused by peak oil, happens. Then we’ll be worried. The current one will fix itself as soon as all the excess of the past few years has been burned off.

  12. Janet 12

    Love your graphs, Steve. I never realised complex concepts could be captured and described so satisfyingly visually.

  13. Ari 13

    From a Labour perspective, it was a good election to lose.

    And from New Zealand’s perspective, it was a bad election for them to lose. 😛

  14. Tigger 14

    Forget the recession – the sea lion kill quota being raised? How is this the Ministry of Fisheries decision alone? Merry Christmas seals, now die

  15. ieuan: Here’s how National won the election:

    The Nats got 45% of the vote because most people who voted for them didn’t really understand what they were voting for. That will be born out as time passes. I may be wrong, of course, but I don’t think so. We’ve een here before. It’s just the some people were too young to remember and other people never knew in the first place.

    Thanks to Crosby / Textor, many voted anti-smacking law and other trivialities without appreciating the full anti-worker scope and power of National’s policies.

  16. Dean 16

    Steve Withers:

    “Thanks to Crosby / Textor, many voted anti-smacking law and other trivialities without appreciating the full anti-worker scope and power of National’s policies.”

    The only problem with your argument is that Labour also employed a ton of PR and advertising companies. I’m guessing that you also agreed with Trotter;s “courageous corruption” line.

    That, together with assuming that everyone that didn’t vote National was completely and accurately informed what they were voting for, leaves me with little conclusion other than you’re a fool if you believe what you’re typing.

  17. Dean 17

    “Wait till the next recession, caused by peak oil, happens. Then we’ll be worried. The current one will fix itself as soon as all the excess of the past few years has been burned off.”

    Didn’t we have peak oil back when it was over 2 dollars a litre earlier in the year?

    Wasn’t peak oil first predicted as happening back in the 70s?

    If there’s one thing I adore about peak oil predictions it’s how many of them there are.

  18. RedLogix 18

    Dean:

    1. No Peak Oil was never predicted to occur in the 70’s. The vast majority of work done over the decades since Hubert’s first predictions have placed the date range somewhere between about 2005 and 2020.

    2. In the last few years with demand at a peaking at over 85m barrels per day we hit the current production ceilings, and the price skyrocketed alarmingly to $149 per barrel. That was our first real taste of peak oil.

    3. That price, combined with the collapse of the financial industry (and exactly how these two events are linked is a complex and interesting story) has cut demand by over 5% in a matter of months, resulting in an equally dramatic fall in price.

    4. The record now tells us how inelastic the oil production and price is. This inelasticity manifests in high price volatilty around the limits of production.

    5. This volatilty in price has long been predicted as one of the critical signs that we are at Peak Oil.

    Dean, you are repeating variation on an old “boy who cried wolf” theme. A wise village elder might have seen that the first several times the boy ran to him crying wolf, that the boy was just young and frightened of being alone and in charge of the flock for the first time in his life.

    But equally a wise man might have the discernment to see the real terror in the boy’s eyes and the genuine distress in his manner on the occasion, when as inevitably it would one day… that the wolf truly did arrive.

  19. Mark 19

    Somebody mentioned Peak Oil when oil has gone from $147 US to $30 a barrel.

    Classic.

    The current problem is cash deficit that NZ is currently running which is caused by Interest free student loans and Kiwisaver, which are two things National is not going to change.

    WFF is another problem as it’s a tax churn problem that doesn’t do anything but takes from one pocket and gives back to another.

    National aren’t going to change that either.

    Basically Labour has got us to where the US government is currently at where entitlements are causing deficits but neither party will change it. Basically middle class welfare.

    This leaves only one solution which is to grow our way out to generate tax revuenue.

    National believes by giving employers the incentive to hire new staff in small business this may help, I expect next year they will look at making more changes to try and boost productivity growth.

    Without growth NZ is screwed and Labour doesn’t have a clue except increase taxes if they were still in government.

  20. Joshua 20

    Mark, did you not read what RedLogix said about peak oil? Price volatility is widely considered to be a clear indicator that a producation limit has been reached, or is near being reached.

    The only prediction about peak oil in the 1970s was Hubbert’s prediction of US production peaking in 1970… which it did, bang on.

  21. Janet 21

    Sad about the endangered sealions. Says so much about the Nats assumption about the supremacy of money making over the sustainability of the natural world. Sorry but the planet won’t survive unless there is a major change in such attitudes.

  22. RedLogix 22

    Technically the problem is that both the price and demand curves for oil both have a steep, almost vertical region. This is the best link I can readily find:

    Oil Price Curves

    The blue line is the supply versus price curve. The vertical section occurs because once production is close to its maximum then no matter what the price, supply remains almost constant.

    The red line is the demand versus price curve. The vertical section occurs because modern society is dependent on a certain minimum supply of oil to function, and will pay almost any price to obtain it.

    Historically the production maximum on the blue curve has always been potentially higher than the minimum demand on the red one, so price of oil (defined by the intersection of the two curves) has remained on the flat portion of both curves and thus relatively low. Moreover even relatively large changes in demand or production has had little price effect for this reason.

    However when the two curves move, either because the minumum required demand rises, or the production maximum falls (or both), then the intersection of the two curves will lie on the much steeper almost vertical section of either (or both) curves. This means that the price will rise, usually quite dramatically.

    Moreover, quite small changes in production or demand will result in very large changes in price.

    As has happened.

  23. RedLogix 23

    Bugger… swap the words red and blue in my post above. Time for bed.

    Take no pills.

  24. Take no pills

    But that would ruin my entire holiday…

  25. ak 25

    Once again, thanks Red, for yet another brilliantly clear and digestible explanation for us laypeople on a complex but vitally important issue (please, never retire – and don’t get lonely out there – no one argues with you, only because they can’t!)

    Sadly, the history of our revered “free marketeers” makes the realisation of Wissner’s fears only too likely: expect any day now a mad rush on oil futures and the consequent dizzying price fluctuations. Add this to an already volatile global scene and 2009 looks like being a doozy.

    But there could be a bright side. Let’s go totally mental for a second and dream of a genuine New World Order: destabilisation of such intensity and global pervasion as to incite mass mobilisations that insist on massive redistribution – a “bailout” of biblical proportions of the starving half of humanity and our polluted planet.

    It’d need a highly-developed global communications network of course. And a highly charismatic leader of the “free world” (with ties to the third) wouldn’t go amiss. An ascendant third-world socialist state would help. And first-world youth with ambition.

    1968 Paris changed the world. Mayhap in 2008, Greece is the word.

  26. Dean 26

    “1. No Peak Oil was never predicted to occur in the 70’s. The vast majority of work done over the decades since Hubert’s first predictions have placed the date range somewhere between about 2005 and 2020.”

    So Hubert was wrong when he predicted between ’65-’70? But of course everyone else since then has agreed on 05-20? Do you honestly believe that?

    “2. In the last few years with demand at a peaking at over 85m barrels per day we hit the current production ceilings, and the price skyrocketed alarmingly to $149 per barrel. That was our first real taste of peak oil.”

    It had nothing to do with OPEC deciding to fix market prices for a while, did it?

    “5. This volatilty in price has long been predicted as one of the critical signs that we are at Peak Oil.”

    Sorry, but there was volatility in the price of oil in the 70s and 80s.

    You’re going to have to try harder if you want to ignore the very history of what you’re talking about, red.

  27. Joshua 27

    Hubbert predicted 65-70 for USA production. US production peaked in 1970 so Hubbert was right.

    OPEC didn’t fix prices recently, they just simply couldn’t pump anymore oil to bring prices down. OPEC was as worried as anyone about $150 oil, as they know that leads to people looking at things other than oil to power their economies.

    Price volatility in the 1970s and early 80s was politically induced by oil embargoes in 1973 and then the Iranian revolution of 1979. What they showed was that non-OPEC oil (in particular US oil) couldn’t raise production to cover these politically created shortfalls. Arab nations had actually tried to screw the US over in 1967 when the 6 day war happened, but at that point US oil production hadn’t peaked, so they just raised their output.

  28. william 28

    Don’t you think all of this old “workers” and “them” shit is a bit tired?

    Did you not get the message at the election?

    Has it dawned on you that the “workers” are actually capable of saving and sharing in the benefits of production…. or are your “workers” not capable of looking after themselves and need to keep relying on someone else for a handshake.

    I suggest that with the holidays upon us now is an excellent time to reflect on what really makes a country and an economy tick….. In my view it’s when we work together while also taking responsibility for ourselves.

  29. RedLogix 29

    In my view it’s when we work together while also taking responsibility for ourselves.

    A fine sentiment William, but sadly the reality of a world in which the richest 2% of the global population own more than half the total household wealth, and the poorest half own barely 1% of the total wealth, would suggest that the notion of “us and them” is not wholly redundant just yet. Or as Tonto put it, “What do you mean by “we”, white man?”

    Has it dawned on you that the “workers’ are actually capable of saving and sharing in the benefits of production

    Given that a full 50% of New Zealanders have an income of less than $28k pa, I’m wondering quite how much saving you think they will be making, or how wonderfully well their stock portfolio is doing just now.

    or are your “workers’ not capable of looking after themselves and need to keep relying on someone else for a handshake.

    It depends on what you mean by “looking after themselves”. NZ does a reasonable job of feeding, clothing and housing most people. although it’s a barely adequate one in our meaner streets.

    The fact remains though that a significant proportion of New Zealanders, and vast numbers globally, only participate in the prosperity of the modern world in a very marginal fashion, languishing on the lowest socio-economic boundaries with very little opportunity to alter their fate.

  30. Mark 30

    This would be the US where drilling or explotation of oil reserves are banned in most parts of the US.

    The US is not producing more oil since the 70s beacuse the government doesn’t allow it.

    If all bans were removed the US would start increasing the production of oil.

    Thr reason there can be wild fluctations in the price of oil is that the demand and supply curves are nearly vertical, making a small changes in demand or supply can cause large price shifts.

    Peak Oil is a moronic theory like global warming that has been proven wrong every time.

    Last year Peak Oil supporters were claiming oil was gong to go over $200 dollars a barrel and never come down.

  31. Yawn. Union-ese it’s so cringe.

    Anti-worker policies? That’s right, workers are silly dips who cannot function like adults without unions and anti-employer, anti-profit, anti-progress and anti-productivity lefty policies (look I can speak anti-union-ese!).

  32. RedLogix 32

    Mark,

    Yes there are untapped reserves of oil in the USA. They are well-known and have been accounted for in all the projections.

    The idea that there is are many vast fields yet to be discovered is just plain silly. Geologists have a very good idea of where oil is likely to be found; they are not paid not waste their employers money by drilling in places where it is not likely to be found. Over the last 80 odd years they have done exploratory work over most of the planet. All the accessible and politically stable places were checked out long ago, and the rate of discovery for these places correspondingly peaked long ago. Globally, the rate of discovery continues to decline, with few places remaining that could yet yield some giant new discovery.

    Currently the world consumes something like 5 barrels of oil for every 1 new one it is discovering. Essentially we are just running down reserves we discovered decades ago, and not replacing them with new ones.

    And even then, another new massive field like Ghawar in Saudi Arabia, would make surprisingly little difference to the ultimate date of Peak Oil, delaying matters by only a few years at most. In reality all of the new fields being brought into production individually amount to only a few weeks or months of total global oil consumption.

    The reason there can be wild fluctations in the price of oil is that the demand and supply curves are nearly vertical, making a small changes in demand or supply can cause large price shifts

    Now have a think why that might be. What would be the cause of those vertical regions?

    Peak Oil is a moronic theory like global warming that has been proven wrong every time.

    If the amount of oil is finite, you have to reach a production peak eventually. If you are suggesting that Peak Oil is wrong, are you asking us to believe that there is an infinite amount of oil to be found?

  33. Janet 33

    The New Scientist had a special issue on ‘The folly of growth: how to stop the economy killing the planet’ on 18 October 2008. It’s probably on line. I recommend that Mark and the others on this thread still living in the 20th century should read it.

  34. RedLogix 34

    Robert B. Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton.

    This post from his personal blog absolutely hits the spot.

    Strinkingly this National govt is heading in exactly the opposite direction, straight back into the wilderness of failed “more market, less govt” policies that created the crisis in the US in the first place.

  35. PK 35

    Having worked in oil exploration and production I thought I might correct some of the statements here as several are common misrepresentations.

    There is a long hisory of predictions that we will run out of oil since the early 20th century even. The known oil reserves (as measured in years of consumption at the time of the measurement) actually increased over the 20th century.

    Futhermore, current extraction techniques leave a huge amount of oil in the ground as at the then current prices it wasn’t worth getting out. They don’t “know” where all the oil is. It’s really complicated and expensive to work out exactly where oil is and the best way to get it out of the ground. The estimates of undiscovered oil (obviously rough) range from 60 to 500 years and that is allowing for an annual increase in oil use of 5% p.a.

    However, recently, the rate of discovery actually dropped below the rate of consumption. The received wisdom in this is that via a complex combination of factors including it is now harder to find and extract oil, the price wasn’t worth finding it and political related issues affecting oil exploration.

    There are huge reserves of shale and tar oil but these are quite expensive (and nasty to the environment) to extract.

    What is clear is that oil (and thus energy) will become more expensive and this will affect us as we’ve relied on a cheap energy source. Running out is not the issue (for quite a while yet) because as the price increases it then makes currently unused oil reserves economic. Ditto for alternative energy sources.

    Red – I would have used the term elastic ie if the price varies greatly based on changes in demand or supply and inelastic means high price stability but I get your meaning.

    Considering the price is returning to what was more matching the long term trend this implies recent price movements (upwards and then downwards) are as much speculative and a result of derivatives than due to long term trends or “peak oil”.

    OPEC is struggling to be the price setter on oil as it now produces ~ 40% of the worlds current oil.

    I don’t work for or have any affiliation with any energy companies.

  36. Kerry 36

    Merry Xmas to the lefties……eat crap to the righties!!!!

    Dear John,
    Dont come back from Hawaii!!!!

    Gerry B
    Who ate all the pies who ate all the pies…you fat bastard you fat bastard..Merry xmas!

  37. will 37

    Janet, I think mark got bitten by a yellowjacket and his mind has been poisoned. Peak oil isn’t deniable, even by ideological fools. It’s happening. Period. But these right wingers think the market is the only reality.

    speaking of act supporters, hey madeline, jesus was a trade unionist. I thought you would know that.

    “workers” are going to need any trade union that can help them in this developing recession; else when they are in danger of losing their jobs they are totally screwed. The employers won’t care about their rights unless they are made to.

  38. RedLogix 38

    The known oil reserves (as measured in years of consumption at the time of the measurement) actually increased over the 20th century.

    Well of course. Discoveries of new reserves continue to accumulate, but at a rate less than consumption.

    There is a long hisory of predictions that we will run out of oil since the early 20th century even.

    Complete and utter strawman…no-one has predicted that we will run out of oil anytime soon. Even the most pessimistic estimates of total recoverable oil suggest that we have so far consumed slightly less than half. Plenty of oil remains.

    The real problem is that the half we have consumed was the low hanging high quality fruit that was easy to find and produce. The oil and gas left in the ground is becoming increasingly expensive to extract because it is either remote, in deep water, or lies as you say in complex, awkward structures that are difficult to drill from.

    Almost no-one drills a shallow hole, on dry land that gushes significant oil these days. Almost all big field rely on complex pumping, horizontal drilling and injection techniques. As you must know.

    The estimates of undiscovered oil (obviously rough) range from 60 to 500 years and that is allowing for an annual increase in oil use of 5% p.a.

    Cite please? Because if this is true even your minimum of 60 years of growth at 5% is (60 ^ 1.05 = 73.63) which would imply that in 60 years time oil production would have to be running at (85m barrels per day * 73 = 6.3 billion barrels per day)… or around about 2-3 times the total amount of oil currently known. (The numbers for 500 years of growth at 5% are totally insane, I won’t even go there.) Obviously this is not evenly remotely plausible, so I assume you must mean something else.

  39. RedLogix 39

    speaking of act supporters, hey madeline, jesus was a trade unionist. I thought you would know that.

    And the one of the great moments in the New Testament was the day on which Jesus tossed the money lenders out of the temple.

  40. RedLogix 40

    Correction:

    or around about 2-3 times the total amount of oil currently known.

    Should be: “would use up the total amount of oil currently known in 2-3 years.”

    Optimistically.

  41. John BT 41

    Merry Christmas to you all. (Even Kerry)

  42. Dean: I was describing the group who were mislead ino ving for National. I didn’t make any attempt to describe anyone else or whether or not they were also mislead. Don’t fill in the blanks with your own ill-founded assumptions. They appear to be flawed.

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