Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Let's talk about debt, baby

Chris Hipkins asks:
Did you know the National government have quadrupled the level of govt debt that was forecast when they took office in 2008?
Nope, because it's not true. This is a familiar theme. Last year Chris claimed the government had run up a debt "bigger than Muldoon". That statement was only true if you ignore the debt to GDP ratio and just look at how big the number is. Which no actual economist would do.

This time he seems to have mixed up forecasts from 2008 and 2014. This is how things looked at the 2008 PREFU before Labour was voted out of office (Gross Sovereign Issued Debt):

The Government's Gross Debt to GDP was forecast to hit 35% of GDP by 2013, around NZ$51 billion.

The actual result (from PREFU 2014) for 2013 was $77.9 billion gross debt, and gross debt to GDP percentage slightly above 26%. But certainly not quadruple what Treasury forecast.

UPDATE: sorry, wrong comparison in the initial post.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Waitangi at 175

Another Waitangi Day has been and gone. Only this one was a special date - 175 years since the signing of the Treaty. That it was relatively low-key to me is a tragedy for our country. When I took a look at official state commemorations, the Ministry of Culture and Heritage has a fairly low-key website for its Waitangi Day Fund with a familiar logo from the 1990s. Northland's local paper, The Northern Advocate, noted how low-key things were.

This contrasts with the festivals and fetes around the country. Jen and I went to the Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei festival at Bastion Point, which is a terrific family event. The great thing is that such a festival would've been unthinkable in the 70s - Bastion Point was a protracted land occupation from the time that has now been settled, to the betterment not just of Ngāti Whātua but to Auckland's wider community.

Helen Clark's shunning of commemorations at Waitangi when she was Prime Minister didn't help. It's to John Key's credit that he has attended the commemorations at Waitangi since becoming Prime Minister. But to be fair to Helen Clark, she did inch things forward by awarding some Order of New Zealand honours on the day - something we should make permanent, abolishing the Queen's Birthday Honours.