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Posts Tagged ‘balance of payments’

Johnny’s Report Card – National Standards Assessment y/e 2012: trade

9 January 2013 2 comments

To Whom It May Concern; the following Report Card detail’s Johnny’s achievements over the last four years.

The following contrasts compare four years, ranging from the end of 2008 to the end of this year, 2012.

Whilst it is acknowledged that the Global Financial Crisis impacted harshly on our society and economy, it is also fair to say that National has had the benefits of starting out with a sound economy (surpluses, low unemployment, etc)  in 2008 and four years in office to make good on it’s election promises.

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Trade

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The rhetoric:

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more exports more jobs

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The reality:

In simple terms, we, as a country, have continued to  import more than we exported,

2008/09

The trade balance for December 2008/January 2009  was a deficit of $341 million. This compared with a surplus of $38.5 million  in December 2007/January 2008. (See: Tradingeconomics – Balance of Trade)

2012

The trade balance for September/October 2012 was a deficit of $718 million. This compared with a deficit of $226 million  for September/October 2011. (See: Tradingeconomics – Balance of Trade)

As reported in the NZ Herald on 27 November 2012, the annual deficit increased to $1.37 billion. (See: Trade deficit widens as dairy values fall)

In graph form,

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New Zealand Trade Deficit Narrows in October

Source: Tradingeconomics – Balance of Trade

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On top of that, what we did export earned us less with the increasingly high value of the New Zealand dollar,

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NZ Dollar

Source: Tradingeconomics – New Zealand Dollar

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As Bloomberg wrote in October,

New Zealand’s annual trade deficit swelled to the widest since 2009 as exports fell to a 20-month low amid a decline in dairy shipments and a rising currency.

See: New Zealand’s Annual Trade Deficit Swells to Widest Since 2009 – Bloomberg

The high NZ Dollar not only affects the value of our exports (and thus helps to pay for imports)  but has a direct, inescapable impact on our employment,

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Job losses blamed on high NZ dollar - more forecast

Full story

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Whilst governments around the world were – and still are – manipulating their currencies downward, with several techniques (including “quantitative easing”) National remains wedded to a hands-off policy of allowing the “market” to determine the value of our dollar.

So while we are playing by purist, Market rules – other countries have thrown the rulebook away and doing whatever it takes to boost their economy and create jobs.

The “reward” for National’s obedience to dogma? Massive job losses,

Fears high dollar pushes some firms close to edge

Rakon blames job cuts on high dollar

High dollar blamed for job losses at wool plant

The outlook? Not good,

Currency outlook tough for 2013

National’s response?  Abject surrender,

If ever  a lesson was needed to illustrate the sheer futility of single-minded perseverance with a failed economic ideology, it is National’s committment to it’s  hands-off policy on the New Zealand Dollar.

And yet, when it comes to “sexy” industries, National will climb over broken glass to throw tax-payer subsidies at the likes of  “Lord of the Rings“,  “The Hobbit“,  Rugby World Cup, et al.

Whilst Key  will crow about “3,000 people have been employed because of the Hobbit” (see: John Key pushes Hobbit benefit) – meanwhile 40,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost since this Government took office in 2008 (see: Loss of work hits hard).

If, by now you are feeling anxious and upset, don’t panic. It simply confirms you are still sane.

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Report_Card_trade

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The Great NZ Sell-Off Continues…

7 September 2011 4 comments

Despite recent assurances from the Prime Minister, John Key, to restrict foreign purchases of NZ farmland, his assurances that,  “I think we’re making progress in this area” seems to be based on empty words and little more.

As the Dominion Post  reported last year, “an average of 82 hectares of agricultural land per day has been approved for sale to offshore investors”.

Some recent headlines bear out that report,

It seems quite clear that John Key’s optimistic view that ” I think we’re making progress in this area” is wildly misplace. As usual, his soothing, reassuring words bear little relationship to reality.

But voters have yet to figure that out, collectively.

What the New Zealand public does understand, with crystal clarity, is that selling our farmland to overseas investors is counter-productive; counter-intuitive; and short-sighted economically.

It also cheats our children of their birthright.

New Zealand farmland is over-priced and farmers have gotten into trouble with massive bankloans and reducing equity. In part, this is due to the weasy credit that has been available to NZ society since 1985, when our banking system was de-regulated by you-know-who.

De-regulation meant that vast amounts of money flowed into NZ, for banks to lend out as mortgages, investments, loans, etc.

It also meant that, as money-supply increased, so did property prices. Quite simply, we could expect to sell our properties because there was an endless supply of money available from banks. Purchasers could borrow 80%, 90%, and sometimes 100% for mortgages.

So property prices went up. Our borrowings went up. Demand went up, as speculation was tax-free (remember that there is no Capital Gains Tax in NZ). It was an uncontrolled spending spree, without any consideration that eventually, the bubble would burst.

Well, in 2008, the bubble burst. In early 2008, there were signs that there was a crisis looming in the US banking industry. On 3 March 2008, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, the US federal agency that backs bank deposits,  identified 76 banks as in trouble , a 52% increase from a year ago.

By July 2008, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, were in severe financial  trouble.

On 15 September 2008, Lehmann Bros, in Wall St, New York, filed for bankruptcy. The subsequent chain reaction of banking failures sparked a global financial crisis and the world fell headlong into a recession.

Here in NZ, credit dried up, and suddenly our farms were no longer worth the high prices that people had been paying for them. The property boom came grinding to a halt, and the “bubble” well and truly burst.

We  could no longer afford to buy over-priced properties to make speculative profits that had been financed using money borrowed from overseas. It was time to pay the Piper.

For many owners of farmland, the obvious solution seems to be to sell properties to overseas interests. Foreigners have the necessary capital – which local New Zealanders do not.

Unfortunately, in doing so, we are effectively locking-out our next generation from the opportunities that our generation – the massive-borrowing, heavily-indebted, Baby Boomers – had enjoyed. We have played “monopoly” with our farms; making ever-increasing profits; as we sold land to each other in a kingd of mad, money-go-round.

Now, we can only save our indebted ‘skins’ by selling out to foreign interests.

This is simply another chapter of the story I told here; “Greed is Good?“.

Is it fare, I ask myself, that we have priced farm land out of reach of our children?

Is it fare, I ask myself, that instead of our children enjoying the same opportunities that we did – that instead it will be Germans , Americans, Swiss, Chinese, etc, who will now reap the benefits?

The greed and naked self-interest of Bany Boomers is well known. It is no secret that we have looted the wealth of this country, and have left our children with fewer prospects than we enjoyed. No wonder so many of them have left New Zealand, and plan never to return,

“A Victorian-based Kiwi with a student loan debt, who did not want to be named because he did not want to be found by the Government, said he did not intend to pay back any of his student loan.

The 37-year-old’s loan was about $18,000 when he left New Zealand in 1997. He expected it was now in the order of $50,000. The man was not worried about being caught as the Government did not have his details and he did not want to return to New Zealand.

“I would never live there anyway, I feel just like my whole generation were basically sold down the river by the government. I don’t feel connected at all, I don’t even care if the All Blacks win.

“I just realised it was futile living [in New Zealand] trying to pay student loans and not having any life, so I left. My missus had a student loan and she had quite a good degree and she had paid 99c off the principal of her loan after working three years.” – Source

As we lose more and more farmland to overseas ownership, we should also expect some fairly noticeable consequences to follow;

1. Profits will flow back overseas, to offshore investors’ banks. This will impact on our Balance of Payments (negatively, I might add). This, in turn, will affect our sovereign credit rating; the interest rates we pay for money we borrow… and finally, our mortgages.

2. As farm produce fetches higher prices overseas, expect to see this reflected in the price of dairy products and meat that we purchase in our supermarkets. We have already experienced the high cos of milk and cheese, due to high prices overseas. Expect this to worsen.

Property and farm owners may object. They will squeal like stuck pigs, in fact. But the sale of our land to foreigners, whether American or Chinese; Australian or German; will eventually impact impact negatively on our economy and on the prospects of our children.

Enough is enough.  No more pandering to the self-interest of Baby Boomers.

It is time that common sense kicked in. The sell-off of our country has to stop. Otherwise, as John Key warned, we will become tenants in our own land.

To hell with that.