Labour Party in disarray – and the flow-on to the PM

The once-proud NZ Labour Party was in a sorry shape this week. Its president Nigel Haworth handed in his resignation, the PM Jacinda Ardern was looking rather bedraggled, and several of her senior staff stood accused of a cover-up, in the wake of the scandal involving allegations of sexual assault against a Labour staffer said to be working in the Beehive.

Stuff reported earlier this week that a 19-year-old woman was allegedly assaulted on two occasions by a staffer with “strong influence” in the party.  It took a year after the second alleged assault before the party eventually launched an investigation into multiple complaints. But in spite of the young woman meeting with Labour Party officials including Haworth to seek help, the party contended the allegations did not include sexual violence.

Continue reading “Labour Party in disarray – and the flow-on to the PM”

Bridges is offside with supporters in bridling against an independent budget office

“I didn’t come down in the last shower,” Opposition leader Simon Bridges huffed on RNZ’s Morning Report when quizzed about his objection to the establishment of an independent Parliamentary Budget Office.

We are left to conjecture on what he did come down in and when it might bring him to earth.  A thunder cloud of paranoid suspicion, perhaps.

On this issue his instincts have seriously failed him. When the Taxpayers Union is welcoming a Green Party initiative now that it has been modified, Bridges and the Nats should take a bit more time before declaring their position.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says:

Continue reading “Bridges is offside with supporters in bridling against an independent budget office”

Lopping the OCR might be a stroke of genius – or an Orr-ful monetary policy blunder

So what, on reflection, are we to make of  the  Reserve  Bank  governor  Adrian  Orr last week slashing the  official  cash rate  by half a percentage point to  a record  low  of  1%?

After  all,  just  the day  before  Orr made his   historic move, Finance Minister   Grant  Robertson  was  delivering  assurances  to  anyone  who might be listening  of  the  NZ  economy’s “solid fundamentals” as  he celebrated the unemployment rate falling to 3.9%.

Why then would   investment  guru Brian  Gaynor  label the  OCR  cut  as a “bizarre  decision”?

In his  widely read column in the  Saturday  edition of the NZ Herald, Gaynor wrote:

Populist politicians and central bank governors  are obsessed with taking  measures to avoid any  form of  economic slowdown. This  approach, which has been strongly  influenced  by Trump’s  pressure on the US Federal Reserve Board, is unorthodox, because  expansions and  slowdowns  are  an  integral  part of the  business  cycle. The  weird  0.5%  rate  cut…means  our Reserve Bank has more limited options if NZ is  confronted  by a  serious  recession”. Continue reading “Lopping the OCR might be a stroke of genius – or an Orr-ful monetary policy blunder”

RBNZ board is pressed to put many hard questions about surprise slashing of the OCR

Michael Reddell, on his Croaking Cassandra blog, has scolded the Reserve Bank Monetary Policy Committee about its prowess – or lack of it – in the communications department.

His concerns were raised by the committee’s decision – announced yesterday along with the latest Monetary Policy Statement – to lop the Official Cash Rate by 50 basis points to 1 per cent.

As Westpac commentators noted:

“This was a stunning decision – in the history of the OCR, the only times the OCR has been cut by 50bps or more have been after the 9/11 terrorist attack, during the GFC, and after the Christchurch earthquake. We are very surprised that the RBNZ decided to cut 50bps in today’s environment.”

Reddell was surprised, too, and is urging the RBNZ’s board to ask hard questions about just what went on before the announcement. Continue reading “RBNZ board is pressed to put many hard questions about surprise slashing of the OCR”

ANZ economic comment draws clouds over Robertson’s sunny outlook – but Stats NZ brings good job market news

Finance  Minister Grant Robertson  insists  the NZ  economy has  “solid fundamentals”,  as  Point of Order   noted last week.   He concedes  there is  uncertainty   because of slowing  global  growth,  Brexit,  and trade wars but argues NZ’s  economy is  doing  better than what he calls  its international peers.

He reckons there are “many, many signs that things are getting better under this government”.

So what  to make   of the   report  this  week  from ANZ Bank economists titled “That Sinking Feeling”?

Bracing for this week’s release of Q2 labour market statistics and the RBNZ’s August Monetary Policy Statement, they look at some of the key developments the RBNZ will have to consider, “and it’s not looking pretty”. Continue reading “ANZ economic comment draws clouds over Robertson’s sunny outlook – but Stats NZ brings good job market news”

Sure, the PM made the Vogue cover – but polls suggest some of the lustre has been lost

PM Jacinda Ardern has been flying her government’s flag in the  Tokelaus,  as  well  as  featuring on the cover  of  Vogue,  achievements  few of  her  predecessors   have managed.

Such  events   have almost  certainly  strengthened  the  conviction of  those  who believe   she has  focussed  the eyes of the world as never before   on this country.

In  any case, when  Opposition  Leader  Simon Bridges  attacked Ardern  for  being  a  “part-time prime minister”  it  was almost  as if he had committed  some  kind of  sacrilege.  The  NZ Herald’s cartoonist reacted  with what he no doubt thought was a  clever  drawing  showing Bridges scraping  the bottom of the barrel.

Ardern’s  mate  Grant  Robertson  was  hot under the collar, too.  He raged that Bridges  had  been  “disrespectful to the office of  prime minister”  and was engaging  in  “dirty politics”.  Not  only that, but there  were  “sexist overtones”   in   what Bridges  was  saying. Continue reading “Sure, the PM made the Vogue cover – but polls suggest some of the lustre has been lost”

Economic curiosities include record low unemployment while DOLE numbers and hardship grants increase

Finance  Minister Grant Robertson is  convinced NZ’s  economy is  doing  better than what he calls  its international peers, despite the  “uncertain economic  backdrop and slowing  global growth”.  He reckons there are “many, many signs that things are getting better under this government”.

He was  particularly gung-ho  in Parliament answering a patsy   question from  Kiritapu Allan.

First he  cited   last week’s  BNZ-Business NZ Performance of  Services Index   showing the NZ services sector continuing to grow and expand  in  June.  He said  it is encouraging to see that NZ’s expansionary services index of 52.7 for June was higher than in Australia, the UK, China, Japan, and the US—demonstrating the continued strong performance of the NZ economy compared with our peers. Continue reading “Economic curiosities include record low unemployment while DOLE numbers and hardship grants increase”