Getting down to business, or getting businesses down?

We have revised down our expectations for GDP growth during 2018 in our latest economic forecasts (see Graph 1). Our previous forecasts, in October, were upbeat about prospects for the New Zealand economy this year, but a range of factors have combined to see that growth outlook soften over the last few months. These factors include persistent capacity constraints in the construction sector, changes in central government’s infrastructure priorities, and dairy prices that have been a bit disappointing.

Have we lost faith in the economy?

A raft of unfavourable confidence surveys have been released over the last couple of months. Firstly, ANZ’s business confidence surveys for November and December showed confidence at a nine-year low. And last week the headline figure in the NZIER’s Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion (QSBO) fell into negative territory for the first time since 2015. Is the economy going downhill or are we just in an election-related blip?

The Panama Canal: mosquitoes, a soft voice and a big stick

A sense of intrigue prompted David Kennedy to visit Panama City – an oasis of wealth and success in Central America.  He was vaguely aware of its economic and historic importance: it is a metropolis of futuristic skyscrapers, an airline hub, a tax haven, a financial hub, a nexus of global trade, and a United States outpost of sorts.  He knew that all these attributes related, in one way or another, to the Panama Canal.

The Wider Economic Benefits of Greater Connectivity

The Oresund bridge between Copenhagen in Denmark and Malmo in Sweden, a truly transformational (€4 billion) transport project that led to economic benefits much greater than would be estimated using standard cost-benefit analysis.
Although something on that scale is unlikely in New Zealand, it does raise the question of whether investing in large transport infrastructure projects could deliver benefits additional to those estimated using the NZ Transport Agency’s Economic Evaluation Manual.