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Was National a good economic manager?

Written By: - Date published: 9:30 am, March 10th, 2018 - 75 comments
Categories: Economy, national, same old national, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags:


For your next set of arguments with people still pining for John Key, who look back at near-history and feel it was a time where everyone was relaxed and people had a generally good time, and attribute that feeling to those time-honoured National skills managed the economy so well, here’s the actual performance, laid out by the CTU in simple graphs and brief commentary.

The summary says it all:

It’s a crucial part of the mythology around National Party Governments that they are “good economic managers”, as their new leader, Simon Bridges, is repeating. The business commentariat repeat it endlessly too. How true is this?

‘Economic management’ often confuses fiscal – management of the government’s finances – with management of the entire economy over which the Government of the day has relatively limited influence: it cannot take credit or blame for existing trends or random events – luck. And what is ‘good’? The business media have typically assumed that ‘good fiscal management’ is simply holding down spending, balancing the budget and reducing debt. But it is hardly good management to hold down spending if in the real world people can’t find jobs or cannot afford acceptable housing or are living in poverty or can’t get the health care they need. Similarly ‘good economic management’ is not just strong GDP growth. It is hardly good economic management if GDP is growing but the income is not fairly spread or growth is in areas that provide a poor basis for future development or creates growing environmental degradation.

I look at National’s record on growth in GDP (and GDP per person), productivity, trade, employment, unemployment and joblessness, wages and salaries, inequality, poverty, housing and environmental sustainability. Even on GDP growth its record is mediocre; it has a little to be proud of in employment but less so when looking at the quality of the employment and continuing levels of joblessness. In the other areas there are demonstrable failures.

Its management of government finances started well in its handling of the Global Financial Crisis: using debt rather than austerity reduced the social and economic impacts. It sensibly funded the Canterbury earthquake recovery partly from debt. Yet there their praiseworthy fiscal management largely ends. Their 2010 tax cuts were inappropriate in a recessionary economy with high levels of inequality and poverty. National used the crisis and a supposed excessive debt level (even at its peak, still much lower than most countries in the OECD) to justify a programme of spending cuts for its entire period in office. It put off spending in a host of areas that would inevitably come home to roost on a future Government including in Health, Superannuation, Education, Housing, Poverty, Environment and Conservation.

This is not responsible fiscal management: it is turning a blind eye to the future. On this record, National cannot fairly claim to be a good economic or fiscal manager unless its definition is so narrow as to ignore the consequences of its management policies.

75 comments on “Was National a good economic manager? ”

  1. cleangreen 1

    Good article Advantage,


    How can National ever claim it “Was a good economic manager”?

    Just look at their sad record!!!!!!

    Well firstly; – they have already sold everything except the barn door in nine years.

    Then while promising we would all be expecting a “brighter future”.

    Then they borrowed another $60 Billion to give tax breaks to the rich.

    What they didn’t do;

    Upgrades on Infrastructure, roads, and rail, and airports, and ports,

    These are urgent needed repairs now required as all agencies, & local councils are claiming these are all crumbling along with local municipal asserts and their infrastructure of buildings drains water supplies, are all in desperate need of upgrading.

    So we are simply in deep shit after National ‘s nine years of mis-management of robbing Peter to pay Paul and carry out a silent undeclared program of austerity, so we have been savaged severely by National.

    • Wensleydale 1.1

      Sadly, it doesn’t matter whether the “good financial managers” narrative is true or not. It will be parroted endlessly because people believe the myth. It’s become part of National’s brand. “National – good with money, shit at everything else, especially people.” And yet, they’re not even good at the one thing they’re supposed to be good at. When you look at the things they get up to while in office, you’d be forgiven for concluding that the National Party is little more than a giant money-go-round, and a means of securing lucrative future employment post-parliament, with the various corporates you did favours for while you were a minister. It’d be funny if it weren’t so sad.

  2. arkie 2

    My question is how the meme of RW parties as ‘good economic managers’ is maintained in the face of the evidence. Are there effective ways to counter this narrative?

    • Loop 2.1


      ” My question is how the meme of RW parties as ‘good economic managers’ is maintained in the face of the evidence. ”

      The answer is simple. Repeat the lie many, many times and some will believe as if it were the truth.

      The same applies when the “black hole” in Labours budget. Joyce said he’d leave politics if he was wrong. FINALLY he left, not because of the “black hole” though,but at least he’s gone!

      • arkie 2.1.1

        indeed, ‘catapult the propaganda’ as G.W. Bush said.

        I’m interested in what methods can be used by us on the Left, to counter it effectively, to let the truth sink in.

        The management of an economy can be a pretty nebulous metric to measure let alone explain. Apart from mandating the reading of this post, i can’t think of a good way to challenge the RW narrative,

      • greywarshark 2.1.2

        I don’t count on Joyce having left us for good though. He won’t be doing good wherever he is, and he won’t be distanced from NZ interests for too long.
        Walk out the front door and go in the side door somewhere I would think.

  3. adam 3

    Can we talk inflation? The last government ruled over almost runaway inflation.

    Yes I know, the usual turds will bring out the official rate at this point. But a few things are missing from the official rate. The two big ones are rent increases and house prices. Both these have been removed from the official rate, and if you can honestly say these have not been running high I will eat my hate.

    The unseen, or insidious inflation which has passed by most, (well not really, but treasury has turned a blind eye) is the reduction in product size. Especially food products. A few grams here and there and bob’s your uncle, same price, less product – no change to the official inflation rate.

    The national party sat and did nothing whilst this went on. So yeah, agree with Ad completely.

    • Whispering Kate 3.1

      It’s not just food products but cosmetic products as well. Now I know you are going to say they are not necessary but I am also including moisturisers and deodorants in here as well. They introduce a new product, remove the existing one from the shelves and hey presto its in a smaller packet, weighs less and costs more. Happens all the time and has happened like this for as long as I can remember.

      Even worse the new one introduced is not as good in a subtle way that the user can recognise the difference if they are regular users of the product. Do they think the consumer is a bit slow on the uptake or is it just pure arrogance that they know they can get away with it. No wonder consumers become cynical about the whole process of delivering a fair trade on their manufacturing.

      Meanwhile as Adam says in his comment above, people’s incomes are not keeping up with the never ending creep of costs – then they have the nerve to say the inflation rate is low and successful.

      • smokes kreen 3.1.1

        Anyone who buys Pro sensitive Toothpaste will also have noticed the recent $2 – $3 a tube increase (depending where you buy it). Also, I’m not sure whether Council rates and insurance premiums are measured for inflation. Our Council is proposing a 9.5% rates increase for each of the next two years. Our house and contents policies also rose by a massive amount (about 25%). Wages are certainly not keeping up with these kind of increases.

        • Whispering Kate

          The Rapid Relief was $9.99 at the supermarket today – a bloody rip off if you ask me.

    • dukeofurl 3.2

      Thats right.
      The end of year CPI announcement talked about ‘drops in the price of new cars’
      New cars !
      It was only ‘specials’ for end of year , but still. ( The impact of new cars was shown by Toyota at certain months have 80%+ are sold to rental fleets, yet the assumption is these are ‘consumer purchases’)

      The current CPI includes everything but nothing in that major items which are must haves are buried under the dross of nice to haves.

    • Almost everything you wrote there is wrong.

      • adam 3.3.1

        Yeah, right.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Rent is included in the CPI and Stats does take into account the reduction of packet size.

          House prices are left out of the CPI and that is a concern but it was the only thing that he was right about.

          It’s difficult to have a conversation about something when one of the participants is talking bollocks.

          • dukeofurl

            What about car prices ?

            Heres an example of a certain well known hatchback which was tracked over 10 years
            The ‘real price’ increased from $29500 in 2001 to $36000 in 2011.
            Thats 22% over that period.

            But not in the CPI , its adjusted price has fallen to $28900 over those 10 years.

            The reason why they only use the adjusted price is because the later car is higher quality. Even though you cant buy the ‘equivalent quality’ car that is the price used.

            And what were these ‘quality improvements’ ?

            the engine size increased from 1.6 litres to 1.8 litres
            the transmission changed from a five-gear manual to a four-gear automatic
            a CD stereo replaced a cassette stereo and four more speakers were included, taking the total to six
            the car now comes with an extra remote key and power windows
            traction control and rear disk brakes became standard
            airbags were upgraded from being only on the driver’s side to being a full package of front, side, curtain, and driver’s knee
            tilt steering and driver’s seat height adjustment were added
            tyres became wider
            luggage capacity decreased.

            They are mostly nonsensical of course, and impossible to quantify ,tyres became wider, or 4 more speakers.

            All new cars have upgraded features, they arent like ‘I prefer to have the 1.6 engine please’ and anyway the car is likely to be heavier and a larger engine maintains performance.

            We can easily see the number of biscuits in a pack has decreased and ‘raise the price accordingly’ as the quantity has decreased.

            What about the quality/quantity of chocolate in the biscuit. ?

            In reality only specific changes in quantity or quality can be addressed by the CPI where the numbers change, but wider tyres isnt a quality increase ( when it may be driven by the heavier weight of a car)


            • Draco T Bastard

              The ‘real price’ increased from $29500 in 2001 to $36000 in 2011.
              Thats 22% over that period.

              But not in the CPI , its adjusted price has fallen to $28900 over those 10 years.

              So, what you’re saying is that the nominal/I> price had increased but the real had decreased.

              As I said – it’s difficult to have a conversation when someone’s talking bollocks.

    • halfcrown 3.4

      “The unseen, or insidious inflation which has passed by most, (well not really, but treasury has turned a blind eye) is the reduction in product size. Especially food products. A few grams here and there and bob’s your uncle, same price, less product – no change to the official inflation rate.”

      Agree with that, but you have all got it wrong Treasury or whoever measures inflation by only the important things like the increase in the price of Moet or the latest Mercedes car. Unimportant items like food, rates rent insurance are never considered.

      • patricia bremner 3.4.1

        I agree Halfcrown. The size of our favorite deodorant has shrunk, covered by “Turn it upside down design”, thin on one end!! Price has doubled.

        Milk Cheese Butter …… crazy.

        insurances and services for the home, electrical plumbing and maintenance have increased beyond belief.

        Drs. and charges on prescriptions, petrol and car maintenance.

        I am so lucky to have taken up the GSF teacher’s pension. (21 years worth of saving) This closed 1991?
        It gave us, when we first got it, another amount equal to a single weeks pension fortnightly. Now, because it is increased according to the CPI, it is equivalent to two thirds of a single week. Losing a third. So the CPI is gradually measuring less of value.

        So don’t agree to NZ superannuation going to the CPI instead of wages. It would be worth a third less.

  4. Delia 4

    Crippling rents, selling of state housing which used to house the vulnerable, and jacking up GST on groceries is not sound economic management.

  5. AB 5

    ‘Good economic management’ is not actually a thing in itself.
    Economic management can be assessed only in terms of whether it fulfils ends that are themselves non-economic. This is what Rosenberg’s piece is trying to do by implying that anything that results in avoidable suffering (poverty, unemployment) can’t be ‘good economic management’ because it fails the ethical sniff test in terms of outcomes.

    The genius of RW propaganda on the economy is that it has elevated their preferred fiscal settings into the very definition of ‘good economic management’ and these settings are treated as ends in themselves. That these settings favour existing wealth and power therefore never needs to be mentioned.

    • Incognito 5.1

      Excellent comment!

    • Macro 5.2

      Yes AB, that is it in a nut shell. We have allowed politicians, media, economic gurus, and now the great uneducated populace to think that “good economic management” means continually achieving “positive” numbers on a range of economic measures such as GDP, CPI, Workforce, etc. In doing so we completely overlook the fact that these numbers do not actually describe economic reality. Indeed the very creator of the measure for GDP Simon Kuznets in 1934 in his first report to the US Congress warned of the limitations of the very measure he had helped to develop. In 1962, he went further adding:

      Distinctions must be kept in mind between quantity and quality of growth, between costs and returns, and between the short and long run. Goals for more growth should specify more growth of what and for what.

      Do we hear any discussion in the MSM as to what goals for growth in the economy of NZ we need apart from Dairy?
      The economic reality that has been achieved under the past few administrations is one of increasing inequality, homelessness, and despair. NZ has an appalling record on child abuse – both physical and sexual.
      Children are part of the economy too. What else is the economy for, if it is not to provide goods, security, safety, and well being for all people?
      No Government can take pride in being a good manager of the economy until they ensure that all people in the country are well provided, and cared for.

      • Macro 5.2.1

        Just further to the above comment re Simon Kuznets – a Noble Laureate for his work in Economics – the advice he gave the US congress wrt to GDP was that in no way should growth in GDP be regarded as a measure of economic wellbeing. Advice which most economic commentators today studiously disregard.

    • patricia bremner 5.3

      Yes, they are very good at creating situations to increase their own capital by:

      Selling off Public assets to Private interests.
      By buying up property and land,
      Reducing the value of labour and welfare.
      Having high immigration.
      Austerity budgets for everything except cows and roads, is another.
      This with tax cuts aimed at the top goup is the cream. Happens every time.

      • patricia bremner 5.3.1

        Oh!! I forgot raising GST, and borrowing billions.
        How could they be worse?? Lying? Saying it was people’s poor choices? Not doing the prefu properly? So it goes.

  6. Loop 6

    Not an economist, nor do I claim to understand the intricacies of finance, but…..when I got my calculator out it appears En Zed debt increased 1000% under nationals 9 year reign.
    This begs the question, has any of the Labour governments coming in to power following national governments increased debt to this degree?
    Also some on this site are being a bit less than complimentary about how naughty national have been with the selling of assets etc. I don’t disagree but prebble and dougless. Ring any bells? And how many this stratagem put out of work? The signing of the free trade agreement with china and what this has done to En Zed industry. Ring any bells?

    • Nic the NZer 6.1

      You should go through the MMT post recently put up. This stuff is 100% accessible for lay-people.

      Its superficial and often incorrect to be concerned about the level of government debt as an economic indicator. The outcomes the CTU is concerned about are more relevant anyway, and the debt increases were actually largely out of government control anyway and fundamentally the government can not ever run out of money (government borrowing happens but for different reasons to what you may think).

      One important reason this is miss-leading is that NZ government debt is NZers savings. This should be obvious if you think about it as the NZ government is on the opposite side of a balance sheet from NZers, e.g everybody else who mostly transacts in NZ$.

      • Loop 6.1.1

        Nic, Thanks. The article is interesting though I will have to read and re-read it a number of times. Numbers are not my friend as they are for some. With the little I’ve read already I feel a little more enlightened. Cheers

      • patricia bremner 6.1.2

        Perhaps I should have said, the borrowed money was not spent wisely for the economy/people to meet needs.

  7. R.P. Mcmurphy 7

    fixed income recipients are beginning to hurt as creeping inflation eats away at pensions and the basic cost of living.

    • Last time I looked NZ Super recipients aren’t on a fixed income – it goes up at the same as the average income goes as it’s based on being a %age of the average income.

  8. Sanctuary 8

    I was listening in (probably impolitely, but there you go) on a couple of your fairly typical NZ businessmen the other day. They work for a company that has less than 200 employees, both Pakeha middle aged men and both live on the North Shore and drive SUVs. Both are, in my opinion, over rate their own ability and are over paid for the impact they have.

    But anyway.

    They are both as white cracker stereotypical National as you can get.

    Listening to them, I realised that the whole “good economic managers” thing is actually just “allowing white men in the private sector to do what ever the hell they want”.

    it isn’t about the economy, it is more like a badly coded appeal to class war.

  9. UncookedSelachimorpha 9

    Where are the RWNJs on this one?

    Strangely silent.

    • mac1 9.1

      Getting the lines to run on a weekend is a bit difficult. This having to defend National’s record on economic management is not easy, because we defenders of the Economic Faith of English and Joyce cannot believe that it could be attacked, or faulty, or wrong!

      It is the Economic Faith after all. We are the party of business. Business is about money. Economics is about money. We have lots of it- well, some of us do and the rest of us wanna have lots. So we know about economics, right?

      Stands to reason.


      You mean Key and English and Joyce did not have their financial shit together? You mean I’ve been duped? You mean that I have wasted my energy defending the indefensible?

      Brain hurts. Must get the Word from the true prophets of the Faith. I cannot be wrong………… must not be wrong…….

  10. CS 10

    No National are not competent economic managers aside from being right in not implementing viscous austerity in the face of the GFC.

    I give them credit for that. And any progressive who goes on about public debt increases under National being proof that they were incompetent compared to Cullen is shooting themselves in the foot. Because a good government does exactly that in a crisis.

    But, I must put it out there that Labour in the Clark/Cullen years was no better an economic manager. So those who tend to go on about how great Cullen was, be warned, it doesn’t wash with me!

    Cullen happened to run a surplus because he presided over a massive increase in private debt and the very household debt explosion that has rendered so many families unable to make ends meet.

    Here I defer to Steve Keen:

    “[Private] debt thus plays a pernicious role in our political system, as well as in our economy. Because a private debt bubble stimulates demand while it is expanding, the incumbent on whose watch the bubble begins gets undeserved reputation for effective economic management. Then when the bust occurs the blowout in government spending that results lands the hapless incumbent at the time with the charge of being a poor steward of the nation’s finances.”

    So neither Labour nor National are competent economic managers IM – sometimes probably not humble enough 😉 – O.

    • So neither Labour nor National are competent economic managers

      That’d be true – they’re still hanging on to capitalism despite its proven failure.

  11. Matthew Whitehead 11

    Actually National’s record on employment wasn’t great- what it mostly did was kick people off benefit despite them not getting a job yet, so they no longer counted as “unemployed” and had to beg for private assistance, and promote McJobs to everyone else.

    • CS 11.1

      Both National and Labour accept the concept of the NAIRU – the idea that a certain proportion of NZ citizens must be kept unemployed and impoverished to control inflation by putting downward pressure on wages.

      They both avoid true full employment in the name of controlling inflation.

      Currently the labour underutilisation stats are at about 11% I believe. Hence no wage pressures in NZ.

      They both have presided over a system where the labour income share has decreased and has not kept up with productivity.

      They both allow the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer.

      Labour stubbornly refused to extend benefits to beneficiary families with children who couldn’t fulfill work requirements. Shame on them. Unforgiveable.

      A plague on both their houses.

  12. Sparky 12

    And TPP11 signing Labour are? All you guys can think of to talk about is past tense National when the current mob are behaving in a very convincing way JUST LIKE THEM!!!! Unbelievable.

    • Not all of us are doing that. Enough are of course.

    • Matthew Whitehead 12.2

      Didn’t I just do a big post about how Labour were lying about having bottom lines on TPP and how their spin on having made it better is basically all BS?

      Just because Labour suck on TPP doesn’t mean that National don’t actively try and loot the economy in additional ways. *shrug*

      • Stuart Munro 12.2.1

        It’s not all bullshit – they did avoid the copyright extension nonsense which would have given us a significant up front cost. But they folded on ISDS for no good reason. Sometimes no deal is the best deal.

        • Matthew Whitehead

          No, they didn’t avoid it. It’s just suspended. This means that there is actually a fairly decent chance that the corporate Democrats in the US will start up TPP12 again in 2020 and we will be looking at a 70-year copyright term for some inexplicable reason.

          Do not expect anything that is suspended in that agreement to be permanently gone, it’s only gone so long as we can keep the US out of the deal.

          That said, I do give Labour credit for some very, very minor gains agreed to in TPP11, although the only one I’m certain applies to them is that there is apparently some weak acknowledgement of the Treaty of Waitangi in there, probably indirectly.

  13. Stuart Munro 13

    Good economic management would have something to do with the medium and long term. Under the previous government the cry of ‘skills shortages’ was used ad nauseam to justify the import of cheap foreign labourers. But in eight years a responsible government could readily have trained whatever was required – that’s enough time for a PhD.

    Good economic management would be broadly based and diversified so that a botulism scare wouldn’t knock the socks off the NZ economy. It would develop from existing bases and abundant local resources. And it would probably solicit some expertise on lifting productivity, having thrown that baby out with the cheap labour bath water.

    Good economic management would not leave necessities like housing to the vagaries of the market. It would plan so that housing was available at a reasonable price, so that it simply wasn’t a major issue, much less the basis of a dysfunctional inflation ladder that sucks up local liquidity and deters investment in productive sectors.

    It would also involve losing the failed far-right neo-liberal mandarins of Treasury. Having achieved nothing for NZ it’s time these faux technocrats were shown the door and a younger, more centrist and more competent group took their place.

  14. Ed 14

    Simple answer.

  15. CHCOff 15

    NO, the worst rorting in New Zealand modern history.

    TO be balanced with that, the path was inevitable laid by the full embrace of ‘free trade’ that started with the free trade deal with China.

    THe modern ‘rock star’ western inflation ‘free market’ economy that is less dynamic than a communistic one!

    It hasn’t been complete economic suicide though, the plan seemed to be that New Zealand becomes a pacific Switzerland (recently rated the most corrupt nation by a non profit type group’s project analysis which does that sort of thing) type of safe haven for big international capital to escape to – as in a place to go for avoiding it’s mis-management of resources elsewhere.

    All of the above is why there is not alot of choice in joining the TPP currently (to be sensible about it), whether it’s going to be an acceleration to national societal disaster trends or not depends on what extent any alternative approaches can get back to basics with a different approach from what has been the past few decades really.

  16. Tanz 16

    They are far better at economic management than Labour. Huge surplus, no debt, less taxes, full employment. Now all being undone by Labour and co, who only love to spend other people’s money. No wonder Lab can’t win an actual election. Still, Cullen is terrifying the masses with his tax plans, that’ll really bolster the polls for the govt, not.

    • Stuart Munro 16.1

      These are simply lies Tanz.

      Full employment – not since Rogergnomics
      No debt – try $90 billion
      Huge surplus – not on balance of trade
      Less taxes – unless you count gst

      Labour have not been great economic managers – but they’re a hundred times better on their worst day, than any Gnat since Muldoon. Cullen is perfectly competent, if not adventurous – which made him NZ’s best finance minister in the last fifty years. The run of the mill is that bad, and the Gnats were the worst of them. Bill couldn’t even run Solid Energy without crashing it – if he hadn’t borrowed like there was no tomorrow he’d’ve crashed the whole economy.

    • Incognito 16.2

      They are far worse at economic management than Labour. No or miniscule (within rounding error) surplus, large debt, more taxes, under-employment. Now all being undone by Labour and co, who love people more than money. No wonder National can’t win an actual election and form a government. Still, Joyce is was terrifying the masses with his tax hole, that’ll really bolster the polls for the govt.


    • NZJester 16.3

      No Debt Really?
      It was the Helen Clark government that paid down the countries debt to a record low, something that John Key’s National Government immediately borrowed against when they got into power to pay for a Tax cut. Then they did a tax swap with PAYE and GST moving the burden of tax onto the poor to keep offing up more tax cuts for the rich.
      Over their time running the country they failed to keep up the funding of essential services in line with inflation and the rise in population. I have seen family members rejected from the official waiting lists for operations becoming part of the growing hidden unofficial waiting list that grew while under National. While some small amount of the debt was legitimate to help out with disaster cleanups, the majority of it was wasted.

      • CS 16.3.1

        NZ Jester – but the legacy of that low public debt in the Cullen years was a huge explosion in private household debt. Households borrowed and borrowed and borrowed and bid up house prices and bought rentals. And now we have housing costs as the number one reason for poverty and inequality in NZ.

        Cullen presided over a speculative boom that increased tax receipts allowing him to reduce public debt. He was hugely irresponsible in his effort to look fiscally prudent.

        A speculative boom based on kiwis selling houses to each other and overseas banks creating money for them to do so. And now the economy creaks on like a zombie under the weight of very high household debt sapping demand, destroying growth.

        Households such as my own spend nothing to stimulate the economy because of the weight of household debt and no wage increases.

        We have normalised the idea now that low income households paying high rents can’t provide lunches for their children and private charity should do so. Or that low income teenage girls need charity to buy sanitary products.

        National did nothing to end the situation either.

        Meet the new boss…. same as the old boss. Oh and who’s behind Labour’s economic policy these days – Cullen! The actual old boss.

        Sometimes I think Cullen gets away with a lot on the Left because he sort of looks like Michael Joseph Savage.

        This blog from Chris Trotter raises questions as to whether Cullen actually understands concepts like endogenous money, the reality of banking and the fact that savings are not required to make loans. http://bowalleyroad.blogspot.co.nz/2017/10/adults-in-room_7.html

        • Loop

          Hiya CS. Just wondering what you categorise as “households”?
          1) family “households” struggling to make ends meet?
          2) politicians/specutators/corporates “households” investing in property as rentals?
          3) foreign corporates “households” buying up just about everything they could use as rentals?
          4) “Households” with enough expendable income to speculate in property?

          No matter which “household” you are referring to, they ALL prey on the ideology that most Kiwis are desperate to achieve, their own home.
          I don’t know if there is something successive governments could have done to stem the property market hysteria, but they sure should have tried a bit harder.
          The likelihood of not being able to own ones own home is only going to add to social disruption that started with the vast generational unemployment caused by the first looting of public owned enterprises mid-late 80’s.

          • CS

            Reserve Bank data on household debt including debt on rental properties owned by households.


            Note the steep increase from 2000-2007.

            Household debt comprises mortgage loans, consumer loans such as credit cards, and student loans.

            I think home ownership is a good thing by and large. I’m glad I own my own modest home. I see the benefits in stable schooling and attachment to community. I just wish every family had that option. But exploding debt to income levels due to a lack of regulation on lending, foreign buyers and tax loopholes that encourage speculation yadda yadda yadda is not.

            The debt compounded by no real wage increases is also a problem. Nothing inflating my debt away like it did for my parents’ generation.

    • Craig H 16.4

      You must have mistaken National and Labour, because three out of four of your chosen measures (“Huge surplus, no debt, less taxes, full employment”) are far more true of the 5th Labour Government than the 5th National Government.

  17. RedLogix 17

    This article asks exactly the same question of Australia:


    and concludes:

    On both measures, the level of economic growth and that growth relative to the US, Labor is a better performer than the Coalition.


  18. Westiechick 18

    I don’t think we could have taken another 3 years of “good economic management” . Enough damage done in the 9 they had.

  19. Beowulf 19

    Not for me ..

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