Making it rain cash: How to fix the downturn

The July 2019 Infometrics forecasts show a long, slow, slowdown is on the cards for the New Zealand economy. With lower growth on the way, it’s worth highlighting some of the options that are available to New Zealand to combat the slowdown along with the opportunities and challenges of these options.

Sounding the alarm!

Since the Reserve Bank surprised markets with its shift towards an easing bias, the outlook for interest rates has been a constant source of speculation. But the timing of the shift in stance was curious – in our view, nothing fundamental had changed, and the Reserve Bank is sending out the entire fire brigade to rescue a kitten from a tree.

Scaremongering about a housing correction

Despite various opinion pieces recently, the New Zealand property market is not heading for a crash. Given the sheer inertia of demand pressures in Auckland, we also think chances of a substantial correction are slim. This article lays out an answer to the question asked by Slade Robertson’s opinion piece in the NZ Herald this morning: are we heading for a crash or correction?

Larger firms increase their share of residential building activity

Consolidation in New Zealand’s residential construction industry has resumed since 2011 as building activity has recovered from the Global Financial Crisis. In 2017, the 100 largest firms made up almost 40% of consents, although that figure slipped to 37% in the March 2018 year. We had expected this trend of consolidation to take place, but it contrasts with a declining market share for the top 100 firms in Australia. Does this apparent fragmentation of the market in Australia foreshadow a similar change for New Zealand?

RBNZ’s risky assumption clouds OCR outlook

The August Monetary Policy Statement was the most influential yet under new Governor Adrian Orr, even though there was no change to the official cash rate (OCR). Mr Orr pushed out expectations for a rates hike until 2020, sending the New Zealand dollar sharply lower.

But it was the Governor’s assertion that rates could and would move lower, if weak indicators persist, that is both his biggest warning and most questionable stance.

Another construction firm bites the dust

The placement of Ebert Construction in receivership continues the trail of woe in the non-residential construction industry. Businesses in the industry seem to be facing ongoing profitability problems, as reflected by the difficulties experienced by Fletcher Building and Hawkins (among others) over the last couple of years. Yet these problems are occurring despite total construction activity growing by an average of 5.6%pa since mid-2011.