Finance Minister Grant Robertson is still singing merrily from the same songbook on how well New Zealand is doing under his economic stewardship, even as the fires of inflation rage out of control.
In Parliament yesterday, he gamely stood on the burning deck repeating his mantra on how well the NZ economy is doing when he was questioned by Labour’s Dr Duncan Webb – or rather, was thrown patsies.
Manufacturing sales had jumped 12% in the December quarter, the labour market remained strong, job ads were near record highs, reopening the borders would assist the tourist and hospitality industries…
Robertson’s buoyancy ebbed, but only slightly, as National’s new finance spokesperson, Nicola Willis, sought to puncture the balloon. She wanted to know whether he agreed with ANZ economist Miles Workman that “inflation is now running laps around wage growth”, and “households are going backwards at an alarming rate”. Continue reading “Robertson is singing of robustness as GDP rebounds – but costs are surging and the balance of payments has worsened”
Monitoring the Ministers
The PM has been dishing out bravery awards and releasing the Government’s 2021 National Security Intelligence Priorities while Health Minister Andrew Little has been dishing out $644 million for hospital upgrades. Or rather, he has confirmed the government will fund 36 different local hospital upgrades throughout the country and the operational costs to support them, at a total cost of $644 million
In one of her statements, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern acknowledged the extraordinary courage of ten people recognised for acts of bravery relating to the March 15, 2019 terrorist attacks.
In the other, she said the National Security Intelligence Priorities help us to identify threats, risks, and challenges to New Zealand’s security and wellbeing, while outlining current areas of interest where intelligence can support the Government to make informed decisions.
The Priorities have been grouped into 13 overarching themes covering a range of threats and risks to New Zealand including; foreign interference and espionage, climate change and environmental issues, malicious cyber activity, terrorism and violent extremism.
In his statement, Andrew Little announced $100 million in fast-tracked health capital projects had been confirmed, supported by $544 million operational funding
The Government will upgrade 24 local hospitals next year to support planned and routine care, to ensure non-COVID patients are safe when COVID patients are being treated. The Programme will be rolled out alongside an international health workforce recruitment campaign.
Oh – and let’s not overlook Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s latest statement about the resilience of the economy in the face of the impact of the Delta outbreak. Continue reading “O’Connor chuffed about NZ’s leadership on banishing fossil fuel subsidies – but the big test will be bringing the US on board”
Grant Robertson, perennially exuberant as finance minister when it comes to telling the country how well the government is handling the economy, has been in top form on the subject in Parliament in recent days.
Whether the same buoyancy is being felt in every sector of the economy could be another story.
But here’s how Robertson was responding in the House this week.
On Tuesday he was saying the government’s efforts to secure the economic recovery have been reflected in the latest measure of the country’s economic health. Statistics New Zealand reported last week that GDP rose by 1.6% for the March 2021 quarter, exceeding the expectations of even the most optimistic commentators.
“New Zealanders confidence in the recovery saw a boost in retail spending, particularly on big ticket household items, hospitality, and holiday accommodation. Importantly, activity in the construction sector returned to near record levels, while business investment in plant and machinery jumped by over 15 percent. The higher COVID-19 alert levels during the quarter only had a limited impact on the economy thanks to the quick response which provided cash flow and confidence. Quarterly activity in March has now exceeded the December 2019 quarter pre-pandemic level.
“Nevertheless, the data does show the volatility that NZ has to deal with during the pandemic. This 1.6% increase followed a 1% decline in the December quarter and a record 14.1% increase in the September quarter”. Continue reading “Robertson relishes responding to patsy questions and enthusing about the economic outlook – but is he missing some grim realities?”
It’s full steam ahead for the economy, according to the latest GDP statistics and a Finance Minister who eagerly drew attention to the new data.
Our farm industries, generally, are doing nicely, too, thank you, in spite of head winds which include a growing raft of government regulations.
But prospects of the America’s Cup being defended in this country are in the doldrums. That’s bad news for yachting buffs (but great news for taxpayers).
GDP increased 1.6% in the first three months of 2021, much better than the Treasury forecast of a modest decline of 0.2% in May’s Budget or (with the benefit of more recent data) economic commentators’ forecast of an increase less than 1%.
Internationally, the OECD average was 0.3%.
The economy was 2.4% above where it was in the March quarter last year.
A measure of the strength of the food and fibres sector – or rather, a measure of the government’s confidence in the sector – can be discerned from two reports released at Fieldays in Mystery Creek. Continue reading “Team NZ’s rejection of public funding offer means around $100m won’t be sunk into America’s Cup defence”
Our Beehive bulletin
Here’s good news from the Beehive for South Island tourism operators, desperate for an economic pick-me-up after their turnovers were shrunk by the closing of the borders in March last year. More visitors are on their way.
Not many, mind you. Just one Minister of the Crown and whatever entourage he might take to carry his bags. But it’s the Minister the tourism operators most want to talk with:
South Island regions hardest hit by the closure of international borders are the focus of a visit by Tourism and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash over the next two days.
We don’t know how closely Nash’s ministerial colleague, James Shaw, monitors the emissions generated by political travel. But Shaw and his officials do keep tabs on emissions pricing and have just announced the first auction of emissions allowances.
This news and news of Nash’s travels, alas, have been squeezed out of the big headlines by the result of a boat race in Auckland, which triggered a nationwide blast of ballyhoo and jingoism.
The Beehive was not immune. Indeed, the PM and her team were so exuberant that they did not wait for a request before they announced they would invest more millions of our money in the next defence of the America’s Cup.
Among other news: Continue reading “Nash heads south but the news was muffled by yacht racing hoopla and the promise of more state funding to keep Team NZ afloat”
Phew! So many announcements have poured from the Beehive in the past 24 hours, it must be challenging for reporters, commentators and analysts to keep up.
While so much was going on, the Government announced the agreement reached on the future of Ihumato and the price tag which is the cost of the Prime Minister’s highly contentious decision to mollify a vociferous bunch of land protesters by intervening. Or (if you prefer) meddling.
The figure is $29.9 million.
But we should brace for more because of the precedent that has been set.
The best that can be said is that the government books are in better shape now to absorb the price of the state’s involvement than seemed likely a few weeks ago.
The PM – notably – has not added her name to the joint statement on the land dispute that was issued today.
The signatories did include Grant Robertson, deputy prime minister, who has also issued two self-congratulatory statements of an economic nature as Minister of Finance. Continue reading “PM’s intervening in Ihumato land dispute (or was it meddling?) results in a $29.9m settlement – for now”
The first highlighted item – in a press statement from Finance Minister Grant Robertson after the release of the Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update – is that the economy is doing better than forecast.
Similarly, Robertson today was taking comfort from better-than-forecast GDP figures which show GDP fell 12.2% in the June quarter from March and plunged the economy into recession.
“This result was better than the Treasury forecast of 16% released yesterday and at the lower end of other commentators’ expectations,” Grant Robertson said.
Next in descending order on his list of highlights from the PREFU yesterday were the expectation unemployment would peak at 7.8%, down from 9.8% forecast in the Budget; year-to-June accounts showed tax revenue, debt and OBEGAL better than forecast; global forecasts have been downgraded because of COVID-19 uncertainties; and “balanced plan to support critical public services, manage debt and reduce the deficit caused by COVID-19” (his balanced plan, we presume).
Further down, we learn something about the debt that is being amassed: Continue reading “Robertson is comforted about the state of the economy while his colleagues get on with spending borrowed money”
Westpac is forecasting 200,000 jobs will be lost in NZ as a result of the response to the coronavirus pandemic. Chief economist Dominick Stephens estimates economic activity during the four week lock-down would decline by a third, despite the government and the Reserve Bank having “done a lot to calm financial markets”.
Stephens said his feeling was that GDP in the three months to June would fall by more than 10%— “which is completely unprecedented in our lifetimes”.
The Westpac diagnosis reinforces the argument advanced by Point of Order in one of its most intently read posts: “After the lock-down the economy’s recovery will be dependent on dairy farmers and their milk”.
This post stressed that when the time comes for the government to start planning how the economy can recover, it should be working hard to ensure the dairy industry, along with other key pillars of the primary sector, gets every encouragement to increase production.
Many of those who read the post agreed that the volume of criticism dairy farmers had to absorb because of the methane emissions of their herds and the dirtying of rivers and streams reached absurd levels and affected industry morale. Continue reading “Resuscitating a virus-ravaged economy – the answer lies in the soil and the exports it generates”
Finance Minister Grant Robertson was pretty chipper about the state of the NZ economy when he took questions in Parliament on the latest GDP data. He reckons the economy continues to grow “solidly”, in the face of global headwinds.
Noting the economy had expanded 2.7% in the March year, with growth of 0.6% in the last quarter, he was particularly pleased with the construction sector’s 3.7% growth.
“In summary – plenty to be cheerful about”.
He was especially chuffed the latest GDP data shows NZ continues to outpace many of its international peers. It grew faster than Australia, Canada, the UK, the euro area, and the OECD average. Continue reading “In the days before wellbeing our focus was on GDP – and hey, Robertson reckons we should be cheered by the latest data”