Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Fitch’

Questionable assumptions ‘bad for small democracies’

.

smells like media bullshit

.

This item in Fairfax’s Dominion Post caught my eye a few days ago;

.

Labour governments bad for small business

.

 

In this story, author John Anthony is reporting on a study by two  academics –  Massey University economics and finance senior lecturer Dr Chris Malone, and associate professor, Hamish Anderson. They came to the astonishing conclusion;

Small listed companies have performed significantly worse under Labour governments over the past 40 years because of major policy changes, a report says.

[…]

“The smaller firms have done abysmally poor during Labour terms of office.”

Funny thing about this article – it’s mostly rubbish. The Labour government in the mid/late 1980s was hardly a traditional left-wing administration as it implemented neo-liberal, free market policies at breakneck speed. It was the government that gave us the term “Rogernomics“.

In essence, it was a Labour government in name only, having been hijacked by future-ACT MPs and neo-liberal cadres. It was a foretaste of how Brash seized power in 2011 after a putsch overthrew Rodney Hide as ACT’s leader.

Yet the heading of the article is utterly misleading;

.

Labour governments ‘bad for small business’

.

Indeed, anyone glancing at the story would come away with entirely the wrong impression until their attention was caught by this bit;

The main reasons for poor performance in small firms during Labour governments included market under-performance, periods of falling inflation, harsh default-risk and credit conditions and the introduction of deregulation in 1984 that opened up firms to increased foreign competition and exchange rate pressures.

Notable features were the two Labour governments of the 1980s under Prime Minister David Lange.

In the first term from 1984 to 1987 the mean returns were amongst the highest in the sample but in the second term the smaller firms had a mean monthly return of minus 7.2 per cent.

Roger Douglas’s neo-liberal “free” market reforms truly kicked in during Labour’s second term in office (1987-1989) and the academic’s report is not very flattering;

“…in the second term the smaller firms had a mean monthly return of minus 7.2 per cent”.

It is interesting to note that overseas ratings agencies (Standard & Poors, Moodies, and Fitch) also seem to have a somewhat dim view of right-wing governments. Note the credit rating movements during right-wing Labour/National governments compared to the Clark-led Labour government;

.

new-zealands-foreign-currency-credit-rating-history2

.

Note the credit downgrades (red underlined) in the chart above and detailed belowed;

  1. Standard & Poors: From AA+ in April 1983,  to AA in  December 1986  (Rogernomics Labour)
  2. Standard & Poors: From AA in  December 1986, to AA- in January 1991 (National)
  3. Moodys: From Aa1 Stable Outlook, February 1996, to Aa1 Negative Outlook on 30 January 1998 (National)
  4. Standard & Poors: From AA+ Stable Outlook in January 1996, to AA+ Negative Outlook on 10 September 1998 (National)
  5. Moodys: From Aa1 On Review for Possible Downgrade  on 5 June 1998, to Aa2 Stable Outlook on 24 September 1998 (National)
  6. Fitch: From AA+ Stable Outlook on 28 November 2008, to Aa+ Negative Outlook Reaffirmed on 16 July 2009 (National)
  7. Fitch: From Aa+ Negative Outlook Reaffirmed on 16 July 2009  to AA Stable Outlook on 24 September 2011 (National)
  8. Standard & Poors: From AA+ Negative Outlook Reaffirmed on 22 November 2010 to AA Stable Outlook on 30 September 2011  (National)

Eight credit down-grades under two Right-wing governments.

By contrast, during Clark’s more left-wing Labour administration,  from 2000 to 2008;

  1. Standard & Poors: From AA+ Negative Outlook on 27 March 2000, improved to AA+ Stable Outlook on 7 March  2001
  2. Fitch: From AA on 27 March 2002, improved to AA+ on 16 August 2003
  3. Moodys: From AA2 Stable Outlook on 24 September 1998, improved to Aaa on 21 October 2002
  4. Fitch: From AA on 27 March 2002, improved to AA+ on 16 August 2003

Eight years, four credit upgrades.

As Labour’s economic development spokesperson,  Grant Robertson, stated in the same article,

“The last Labour government ran nine surpluses in a row while having the highest average growth rate of any government for 40 years.”

He’s right. Under Labour’s administration of the economy,

.

New Zealand New Zealand Government Debt To GDP 2000-2014

Graph

.

.

New Zealand unemployment rate 2000-2014

Graph

.

 

.

New Zealand Building Permits 2000-2014

.

  • The NZ stock market showed a steady rise, until the 2007/08 Global Financial Crisis;

.

New Zealand Stock Market (NZX 50) 2000-2014

.

.

New Zealand GDP 2000-2014

.

  • Consumer Confidence vs Business Confidence – showed conflicting results, with consumer confidence staying bouyant whilst business confidence appeared to fall. (It seems bizarre that whilst customers were happy to open their wallets/purses to spend – businesses remained gloomy until nearly two years after the initial effects of the GFC   were felt and the Recession was biting hard. Masochistic tendencies appear at play here?)

.

New Zealand business - consumer confidence To GDP 2000-2014

.

 

It seems farcical in the extreme that two academics – with the willing assistance of an uncritical  journalist – have presented “research” which brands the Labour Party as “bad for small business” when the 1984-89 Lange-led administration was an undemocratic aberration that was closer to the ACT Party than the Kirk or Clark governments.

In essence, Malone and Anderson have passed judgement on  governments implementing right wing, neo-liberal economic policies and, rather unsurprisingly,  given them a *fail* mark. But you wouldn’t think it with the headline “Labour governments ‘bad for small business’” and the statement that “smaller firms have done abysmally poor during Labour terms of office”.

But at least this has given  right-wing bloggers some joy – even if those same bloggers have been less than honest at what Malone and Anderson have actually written. But that’s the right wing for you; never let inconvenient truths get in the way of a good propaganda moment.

 

.


 

References

Fairfax media: Labour governments ‘bad for small business’

New Zealand Debt Management Office: New Zealand Sovereign Credit Ratings

New Zealand Debt Management Office: Summary of Direct Public Debt

Trading Economics: New Zealand Government Debt To GDP

National Party: What about the workers?

Statistics NZ: Unemployment Rate Falls to 3.4 Percent

Trading Economics: New Zealand Unemployment Rate

Ministry of Business, Innovation, & Employment: Previous minimum wage rates

Trading Economics: New Zealand Stock Market (NZX 50)

Trading Economics: New Zealand Building Permits

Trading Economics: New Zealand GDP

NZ Treasury: Recent Economic Performance and Outlook

Trading Economics: New Zealand Consumer Confidence

Trading Economics: New Zealand Business Confidence

Kiwiblog: Labour bad for small business


 

.

National dance to corporate interests

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 30 May 2014.

.

.

= fs =

Advertisements

“Less Debt and Lower Interest Rates” – Really?

2 November 2011 2 comments

.

.

National’s “statement of intent” for “less debt and lower interest rates”  on one of their billboards,

.

.

It would be a laudable goal, if National’s track record was not somewhat different,

.

Full Story

.

Our recent double down-grade by Standard & Poors and Fitch will eventually flow into our mortgage rates. Bill English guesses that the amount could be “as little” as “about one-tenth of a per dent” – but of course, he’s guessing.

Whilst National is alleging that Labour will be borrowing to fund it’s policies, the fact is that National has already borrowed $18.4 billion,

.

Full Story

.

This is borrowings made up, in part, because we could ill afford two tax cuts cuts which gave up to $1,000 a week for someone on a salary similar to John Key’s.

.

Full Story

.

In fact, National has cut taxes to such a level that they are now having to part-sell State assets to pay for day-to-day maintenance of schools, hospitals, etc. This is not good fiscal  “housekeeping”.

Put another way, it would be like a Courier selling his/her van, to buy groceries and pay other bills. The courier will have enough money – for a while. After that, the money runs out and the Courier is left with no money and no means to earn an income.

This is not sustainable lontg-term. It is a desperate attempt for National to find money it does not have. Otherwise it will have to simply borrow more… or undo it’s 2009 and 2010 tax cuts.

.

.

That was Then, this is Now #8

26 October 2011 1 comment

.

.

Previous Blog post

That was Then, this is Now #7

.

.

Tui Time!

Sent in by an astute reader,

.

.

The irony of this billboard is that it is not a parody.  It’s a real billboard spotted on someone’s front lawn.

Obviously this particular hoarding-facing was designed before news that  government  borrowings have increased from $16.7 billion to June this year, to $18.4 billion to October this year.

Or that interest rates will most likely rise, due to credit downgrades by Fitch and Standard & Poors. And with an imminent announcement Moody’s – also likely to be a down-grade – expect your mortgage repayments to rise soon.

I suspect these particular billboards may come down very shortly. The embarresment factor may be somewhat irritating for the encumbent government.

.

Acknowledgement

Thanks to ‘Sandman’  for sharing this image with us.

.

.

That was Then, this is Now #7

15 October 2011 4 comments

.

.

Previous Blog post

That was Then, this is Now #6

.

.

Politics-Free Zone? “Tui” time!

9 October 2011 5 comments

Last Friday (30 September), Prime Minister John Key (or ‘Dear Leader‘ as he is now known), played radio DJ for an hour. Using the excuse of the “electoral commission rules”, Key’s presence on Radio Live was supposedly an “election free” event,

.

Full Story

.

During Key’s session on air, New Zealand’s second sovereign credit-ratings downgrade was announced. Again, he refused to discuss the issue, citing “electoral commission rules”. His one hour was to be keep “politics and election free”.

We learnt that his cat was named, “Moonbeam“.

Which is like having Peter Jackson on-air and expecting him not to make any comment whatsoever on any of his movies or the entire film-making industry…

.

.

Just because Dear Leader instructs his listeners that his show was an “election free zone” does not make it so. In fact, it clearly was not “election free” at all, and only the most naive or ardent National Party-apologist could claim it to be. Quite simply, John Key is the Prime Minister and Prime Ministers are political irrespective of what “zone” they might be in.

In fact, hosting a politics-free radio show is a perfect opportunity for any politician to “connect” with his/her electorate and promote their persona as being one-of-the-people.

But there is more to this issue than simply John Key getting one hour of free media exposure. Quite a bit more.

It began in 1984 when Steven Joyce, at age 21,  set up his first radio station, “Energy FM”. From there, his business venture expanded considerably,

“Joyce made his millions in broadcasting. He got involved with student radio as a presenter and programme director while doing his zoology degree at Massey University in Palmerston North. Then he and a group of friends, including radio presenter Jeremy Corbett, started their own station in Joyce’s hometown of New Plymouth.

Corbett says Joyce son of a grocer had a prodigious work ethic: “Steven expects everyone to work as hard as him and nobody does.”

Joyce was 24 when Taranaki’s Energy FM finally got a full licence. Later, the team began acquiring other stations. As Corbett puts it: “I got married and left, and the rest of them became millionaires.”

Joyce says money was the furthest thing from his mind. For years “we kept living like university students [so] we could keep ploughing money back into the business”.

By 2000 he was CEO of an empire called RadioWorks, with 22 radio stations and 650 staff. He didn’t want to sell up, but Canadian company CanWest launched a stockmarket raid and left him standing with a cheque for $6 million in his hand. It was a “bittersweet” moment.”  Source

“In 2004, CanWest Global Communications combined television company TV3 Network Services and radio company RadioWorks to form the new MediaWorks company. On 29 July 2004, 30% of this new company was sold on the NZSX. Three years later, in July 2007, CanWest sold its stake of the company to Ironbridge Capital, a group of Australian investors, who subsequently obtained the remaining 30% from other investors.  MediaWorks is significantly larger than any of its other investments.”  Source

So far we have the following “trail”:  Steven Joyce/Energy FM → Steven Joyce/RadioWorks → CanWest → CanWest/MediaWorks → Ironbridge/MediaWorks, which is the current ownership-situation.

In April 2009, the  Radio Broadcasters’ Association wrote to the now-Minister of Communications, Steven  Joyce, asking for the high cost of renewing radio spectrum licence payments to be spread over 20 years, rather than paid in  one lump sum. Source.

In the following month, May 2009, the Ministry of Economic Development advised Joyce that there was no compelling reason to accede to the Association’s request, as it would “put the Government in a credit financing role“. Joyce followed that advice and subsequently declined the RBA’s request. Ibid.

At around this point, the Dear Leader Prime Minister starts to get involved and things begin to get murky. Around August 8th or 9th,  2009, Brent Impey –  the then-CEO of Mediaworks –  lobbied John Key directly, to get a deferred-payments scheme put in place. (Evidently, such a scheme was desirable not because MediaWorks was in financial trouble – but because it would improve their bottom-line profitability.)

At first, John Key denied even meeting with Brent Impey, and stated this  in answer to parliamentary written questions,

The Prime Minister said he had “no meetings” with representatives of MediaWorks to discuss the deal.” Source

.

Full Story

.

Two days later that answer was corrected, saying he “ran into” Brent Impey at a “social event” in Auckland where the issue was “briefly raised” and he “passed his comments on” to the responsible minister.Source

It seems fairly unbelievable that one could have a meeting with someone; discuss a matter involving $43 million – and then claim to have forgotten it?!

Despite having declined the Radio Broadcasters’ Association’s first appeal (May, 2009) – after Key  “ran into” Brent Impey at a “social event” the matter was re-visited and on October 22, 2009, Cabinet agreed to the RBA’s request for deferred payments.

Question: What transpired between May 2009 and October 2009 to so radically change government policy, and in effect adopt the role of “credit financing”, against the advice of the Ministry of Economic Development, which Steven Joyce had originally accepted?

Question: What role did John Key have to play in this matter? Because all of a sudden he seemed to become pivotal to this issue and it’s outcome.

Question: How could John Key have forgotten that he “ran into” Brent Impey at a “social event” ?

Click here for a Timeline of events, by NZ Herald report, Derek Cheng.

Essentially then, for reasons that are as clear as a barrelfull of Christchurch liquifaction, this government decided to make a  loan  for radio frequency-fees, worth $43.3 million to MediaWorks.,

.

Full Story

.

As John Drinnan wrote in the above article,

…the Government allowed them to keep the frequencies and pay the money over a 50-month period – paying 11.2 per cent interest a year. The Crown held a mortgage on the frequency with a strong security.

However, politicians being politicians, they will always argue the point,

.

Full Story

.

Telecommunications Minister Steven Joyce yesterday said the money was not a loan, but a deferred payment system to help the radio industry during tough times in 2009.” Ibid

Steven Joyce was  adamant that this was not a “loan” to MediaWorks,

.

Full Story

.

In fact, Joyce goes on to say,

“”They have to present it as a debt because it is a debt they owe the Crown, so how they do that is between them and their accountants.

“All I can tell you is that the Crown has not advanced any cash to MediaWorks at all, that the Crown has offered a deferred payment option to all of the frequency holders who were due to renew at that time, which involved them paying interest and getting in their payments over five years.”” Ibid

So according to Steven Joyce, this is not a debt “the Crown has not advanced any cash to MediaWorks at all“?!

Reallllly?

Is that how it works?!

In which case, property-owners around New Zealandf should rejoice and do cartwheels! We have no debts! The mortgages that our banks and building societies extended to us are not debts at all because they did not “advance any cash” to us!  After all, mortgage monies  are paid directly to the vendor – the new owner never sees a cent of it. Banks and other financial institutions simply hold a mortgage over our properties, and charge us interest on top of principle, to be re-paid.

Which is precisely what this government has done, as already mentioned above,

…the Government allowed them to keep the frequencies and pay the money over a 50-month period – paying 11.2 per cent interest a year. The Crown held a mortgage on the frequency with a strong security.Source

It’s a loan, Mr Joyce. Deal with it.

So perhaps it’s little wonder why Radio Live (owned by MediaWorks) did not extend Labour Leader Phil Goff, and other Party leaders, the same advantage as John Key had,

.

Full Story

.

Of course Radio Live “didn’t give an explanation for refusing“.  It’s fairly obvious what has transpired in some fairly shady, back room, “arrangements”.  It is fairly obvious that whatever “arrangement” now exists between Media Works and John Key and  his government is now to their mutual benefit.

The question is; did that $43 million buy just the one hour with Radio Live?

Or is there more to come?

Watch this space.

.

***

.

Additional reading

A word with… Steven Joyce

Wikipedia – Steven Joyce

Key’s six million dollar man – Steven Joyce

Key changes tack over meeting with broadcaster

Wikipedia – MediaWorks New Zealand

.

.

It’s official – National is a poor manager of the Economy.

4 October 2011 1 comment

It’s official – National (and Labour under Rogernomics) was, and remains,  a poor manager of the economy. Treasury and international credit agencies back this up with their data.

Firstly, Treasury data of recent New Zealand history reaching back to Rob Muldoon’s administration show that credit agencies inevitably downgrade our sovereign credit rating whenever National is in office. The only exception to this is when Labour was in power – during it’s Rogernomics era.

.

Source

.

New Zealand’s sovereign credit rating is important because it affects the interest rate at which we borrow money from overseas. The lower the credit rating, the higher the interest we pay as we pose a higher degree of risk to lenders. (Although,  as has been pointed out by one commentator on Radio NZ, New Zealand has never defaulted on a loan repayment yet.)

The money that government borrows (sovereign debt) or that bank’s borrow (private sector debt) is all taken into consideration by overseas lenders.

It is worth noting the critical importance that governments place on sovereign credit ratings. Two years ago, John Key and Bill  English reminded us as to the significance of New Zealand’s credit rating,

Our primary focus for this Budget is to avoid a credit rating downgrade because we think that would add about 1.5% to mortgages for New Zealand homeowners.” – John Key,  May 2009. Source.

If a downgrade were to happen, it would add 1-2% of interest on the amount the government borrows, which is around $600 million each year. This is to be avoided at all costs.That’s every homeowner, every business, everybody paying 2% more. That would be irresponsible in my view for the government not to act. ”  – John Key,  May 2009. Source.

The No. 1 way to see New Zealanders down the road from their jobs is if their businesses cannot be funded. That is what happens when we have a credit downgrade, and that is what we would have had under a Labour Government.”  – John Key, June 2009. Source.

And as early as March this year, Finance Minister Bill English said,

There is no doubt that a credit downgrade would generally lead to somewhat higher interest rates.” – Bill English, March 2011. Source.

When a credit downgrade was averted in 2009, John Key was very quick to take the credit,

If I just look at our debt track and I compare that to the OECD debt track for other countries for 2012/2013 year, we have got a substantially lower debt exposure than most other countries.” – John Key, May 2009. Source.

Yet, on Radio NZ today he stated,

.

Source

.

Note the Prime Ministers comments,

“”With the greatest respect, I’m not responsible for what happens in Europe and the United States, nor technically was I in government when there was the enormous build-up in private sector debt.”

Instead, Mr Key says an increase in private sector debt when Labour was government has helped contribute to the downgrade. ” – John Key, 4 October 2011.

So in 2009 we “have got a substantially lower debt exposure than most other countries” – but only two years later we have “an increase in private sector debt when Labour was government “.

It seems that Mr Key is confused about our debt levels?

As for refusing to take responsibility for our credit down-grade – we might overlook that once. But how many times has New Zealand been downgraded when National was in office?

.

New Zealand's foreign currency credit rating history - National's track record in downgrades.

.

Standard & Poors have downgraded New Zealand’s credit rating three times during National governments; 1991, 1998, and this year.

Moody’s downgraded NZ in 1998 (National government).

Fitch, once, five days ago.

As an aside, both Moody’s and Standard & Poors downgraded NZ  during the neo-liberal reforms of Roger Douglas, in the mid-late 1980s.

It seems that credit agencies view neo-liberal economic policies as risky.

By contrast, Labour’s tenure of government was positively rated or upgraded by the three agencies.

All this makes a mockery of  National’s claims as being a “prudent fiscal manager” of the country’s economy. They are nothing of the sort. The verdict of credit agencies is clear: National is a poor manager of the economy.

This, of course, many of us new already.

There is a high degree of irony in this whole affair. National clearly refuses to accept any degree of responsibility for New Zealand’s credit downgrade. Yet, they are the government. They are the ones in charge. They pass laws and make policies that affect every single New Zealander.

Refusing to accept responsibility is poor form. Especially when, on February 17th, John Key made this observation about welfare recipients,

“”But it is also true that anyone on a benefit actually has a lifestyle choice. If one budgets properly, one can pay one’s bills.

“And that is true because the bulk of New Zealanders on a benefit do actually pay for food, their rent and other things. Now some make poor choices and they don’t have money left.“” Source

So welfare recipients are expected to be responsible for their actions.

But National Governments are not.

Is that how things work in John Key Land?

.

***

.

Additional Reading

Reserve Bank – Household Debt

Treasury – Private-sector debt and factors affecting it

Moody’s credit rating definitions

Standard & Poors definitions

.

.