Offshore worries persist, says Alexander

Some weekend reading for you. In his latest BNZ Weekly Overview (18 October 2012), written during a trip to Europe, Bank of New Zealand economist Tony Alexander says offshore worries persist.

In Europe, the tipping point at which the need to maintain social cohesion outweighs seemingly sensible and necessary economic policies “is the closest it has been since this crisis started.”

He notes various central banks around the world printing money (he doesn’t advocate it for NZ), the increasing media discussion of alternative economic models and rising support in the UK for leaving the EU. He points to soaring global food prices, social tension and international divisiveness resulting from weather-induced crop failures as “very concerning” and go a long way toward explaining why his view on prospects for NZ growth is relatively sanguine.

“We are not going to boom given that people are sensibly concentrating in keeping debt ratios down, there is restraint on some price-based companies from the high NZ dollar (which will remain high), we look fundamentally good to investors as they compare economies and falling food production overseas means higher demand for our commodities and the systems we use to produce them,” he writes.

According to Alexander, challenges include: to facilitate the adjustment of some sectors to a permanently high exchange rate which they cannot live with in the long-term; “get off our butts to take advantage of the demand for our agricultural expertise”; upgrading infrastructure; improving connections between NZ businesses and those overseas; addressing the Auckland housing crisis; and building up public financial reserves to assist during the next crisis.

In addition, Alexander has set up a Facebook page, specifically for discussing the NZ-China relationship and as a tool for disseminating information and “furthering my own still inadequate knowledge,” he says.

The Weekly Overview will be available at the BNZ website in due course, where you can also subscribe by email to receive regular copies.


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