Jacindamania rages again but pessimistic businesses need stimulation from something else – like a tax cut

Jacindamania is again raging  in  NZ  media  as  the  PM, after  extracting what she  could  from rubbing shoulders with Shinzo Abe and the All Blacks  in Japan, is high-fiving it  with  President  Donald Trump, the UK’s Boris Johnson,  and UN  Secretary-general Antonio Guterres in  New York.

But a   fresh outbreak  of  Jacindamania   may  not  overcome  growth-sapping business pessimism  about the way the government is steering the economy.

Surveys of business confidence in the government have show consistent pessimism about the economy since Labour took office in 2017.

The most recent ANZ Business Outlook found 52% of businesses surveyed expected economic conditions to deteriorate.  And the news that the country’s all-important construction industry is contracting is hardly likely to reverse  the trend. Continue reading “Jacindamania rages again but pessimistic businesses need stimulation from something else – like a tax cut”

The science of meetings: the experts find most of them tyrannise our offices and are woefully unproductive

The Cabinet will meet today without Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.  She has arrived in New York to join other world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly – and to meet with some of them.

A meeting with Donald Trump will be among the highlights.  Trade is likely to be top of the agenda. She will meet with Britain’s Boris Johnson, too.

Back on the home front, Winston Peters will chair today’s Cabinet meeting.

We can only conjecture on how many other meetings will be conducted around the country during the day, but in the US – according to an item on the Freakonomics website – 55 million meetings a day are held.

Most of them are woefully unproductive, and tyrannize our offices. The revolution begins now — with better agendas, smaller invite lists, and an embrace of healthy conflict. Continue reading “The science of meetings: the experts find most of them tyrannise our offices and are woefully unproductive”

The Single Economic Market: do the governments in Canberra and Wellington really want to advance the agenda?

Although the governments in Canberra and Wellington declare they are both committed to advancing the Single Economic Market (SEM) agenda, building on the success of the Closer Economic Relations (CER) Trade Agreement, the recent meeting of the respective trade ministers in Auckland didn’t produce much more than an array of platitudes, and certainly left business lobbies on both sides of the Tasman yawning.

Continue reading “The Single Economic Market: do the governments in Canberra and Wellington really want to advance the agenda?”

A Tale of Two Ports

Port of Tauranga has cracked the $100M net profit mark for the first time, underlining how efficient it has become as NZ’s largest port. The NZX-listed Mount Maunganui-based company also reported this week its long-term credit rating had been elevated from ‘BBB+’ to ‘A-‘ by credit rating agency Standard & Poors. The short-term rating was affirmed at ‘A-2’.

PoT’s market capitalisation hit $4.3bn in the wake of its latest result, a huge leap from the $78m at the time of its IPO in 1992. The company has provided a river of gold for the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, which retains 56% of the shares.

So why have other local bodies, which own ports, been so slow to follow the example of the BOP Council in partially privatising their port businesses and reaping the rewards?

Continue reading “A Tale of Two Ports”

Testing times for NZ’s dairy industry: Can its leaders find the right formula?

Dairy giant Fonterra has taken a hammering in the media in the wake of its disclosure it expects to report a full-year loss of as much as $675m and won’t pay a dividend as it slashes the value of global assets. It will be the second annual loss in a row.

Investment guru Brian Gaynor in the NZ Herald argued Fonterra’s farmers have drained the co-op almost dry in terms of milk prices and dividends and have left it in an extremely vulnerable position. Earlier another Herald columnist, Matthew Hooton, contended NZ has put all its milk in one pail – in a company with inadequate governance and capital to match its aspirations.

Continue reading “Testing times for NZ’s dairy industry: Can its leaders find the right formula?”

NZ First is not alone in worrying at the implications of a Westland Milk sale to Yili

Is   Westland  Milk   one of  NZ’s  “key  strategic assets”?

NZ  First  is adamant  it is and believes the government  should be a  applying a  “national interest test”   to the proposed  sale of the company  to the Chinese  dairy giant Yili.

Those  who  see  heavily indebted  companies  like Westland Milk struggling to  make a profit and  not  even  matching  Fonterra’s payout  to its suppliers might take a  cooler view  to  the proposed  sale.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis said he had received “mixed” feedback from West Coast farmers on the deal, which will require 75% approval. Continue reading “NZ First is not alone in worrying at the implications of a Westland Milk sale to Yili”

Businesses seem gloomy but health-sector companies are in good heart

The PM, Jacinda Ardern, received what her handlers would have perceived  as  unexpected  criticism  from the  media   after   she gave  a pre-budget speech to an Auckland business  audience.  One of those  in the  audience  was   said to  have   described   it  as  an   “ideological fairytale”;  others   apparently  were  disappointed   it had  “nothing for business”.   

Given   she  did list  as   two of the five priorities  in the budget as   being “creating opportunities for productive businesses, regions, iwi and others to transition to a sustainable and low-emissions economy; and supporting a thriving nation in the digital age through innovation, social and economic opportunities”,  the criticism itself  could be  regarded as  a    bit  “ideological”.

Surely   business  doesn’t  expect   government hand-outs,  even if  it  is labeled  a  “well-being”  budget?

But  there   seems  little   doubt    that   the   mood of  business  is downhearted   these  days.

Or is it  really?  Continue reading “Businesses seem gloomy but health-sector companies are in good heart”