Sunday, 15 January 2017

New Zealand's external debt position

A couple of weeks ago I re-tweeted a media release from Steven Joyce on New Zealand's 2016 economic growth numbers, which came in at a solid 3.5% p.a. driven by growth in transport (3.7%), construction (2.1%), business services (2%) and manufacturing (1.2%). One interesting tidbit caught my eye:
The Current Account deficit was unchanged at 2.9 per cent for the year, well below the long-run average. New Zealand’s external debt was 58 per cent of GDP, compared with 83.8 per cent of GDP back before the GFC in 2008.
This of course was immediately disputed - because it looks pretty good for the government. Here's what Statistics New Zealand has:

The important bit is that is the net position, not the gross position which is often quoted.