The NZX50 is still miles below its peak

The media has been abuzz over recent weeks, with theapparent news that the New Zealand Stock Market is hovering at record levels.  However,although a bull run is indeed in full swing, it is a little premature to beginrewriting the record books.  Watermarking a market high based on the widelyquoted NZX50 Gross Index does not make sense and prevents sensible historical comparisons.

What is an exchange rate?

All around the world people are complaining about exchange rates. This is all well and good; I am well versed in complaining about things myself. But before we consider whether complaints about the exchange rate are justified we need to first ask a very important question – what is an exchange rate? Many people will act as if this question is far too obvious, but to be honest this is an issue we have to make sure we understand before we start banging on about exchange rates – and matters are far from as clear as many people like to pretend!

We are failing our children, and ourselves

To what extent should society contribute to the upbringing of the children of others? Some people will have the perspective that the upbringing of children should be entirely the domain of the children’s parents and extended family. However, this is not the way that modern societies work. A considerable proportion of government spending is devoted to the education, health and welfare of children. Thus the pertinent question is not "should society contribute" but instead what is the appropriate point where the responsibility lies entirely with the family and when and how should society step in to assist families raising children?

System shock

When I sat down to write this article, the virus scanner on my computer started running. With my computer unable to function for the next half an hour I sighed and went off to get a coffee. Although the virus scanner is needed to avoid vulnerabilities in my computer, the loss of performance I experience is undeniable. The same logic holds true for the economy more generally – the more we try to patch up vulnerabilities in the economy, the worse our overall economic performance will be.

Giving the Pacific a bigger slice

Each year I make a small transfer to a tax consultant in my home country who is sorting out my tax affairs. To make the transfer I need to go into a branch of my bank, stand in a queue, fill out a form and pay $25 for the privilege of using their services. The process seems antiquated and overpriced in a world of online banking and electronic transactions. There is clearly a market opportunity to be exploited. Some Kiwi entrepreneurs are rising to the challenge and slashing the cost of making international transfers.

The illusion of control

In general policy discussion there seems to be a growing acceptance that a government needs to steer the economy. However, this entire discussion ignores one important issue – can the government really steer the economy, or recognise what the impacts of policy will be before putting it in place. Trying to control what we observe, but don’t understand, is more than likely going to make us all worse off.