The COVID-19 pandemic has sent New Zealand into a full-scale lockdown. In doing so, the government is working to flatten the curve and ensure that lives are saved. There is no escaping that this decision puts the economy into hibernation for the next month. Most of what will be achieved in the next four weeks will be maintaining an economic heartbeat while stamping out the virus as much as possible. If this plan is successful, New Zealand can emerge from the crisis sooner rather than later and thereby maximise its chances of regaining momentum in the economy.
New Zealand’s connections with the outside world was upended on 14 March when the Prime Minister announced a mandatory 14-day self-isolation period for all travellers arriving in New Zealand (excluding the Pacific Islands). The self-isolation requirement was a response to the escalating severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and came after the US banned European travellers for a month just days earlier. This requirement to self-isolate will be a major blow to the New Zealand economy, as the requirements will effectively halt the majority of travel in and out of New Zealand.
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing economic chaos both internationally and in New Zealand. A recession is now inevitable, and the economic ramifications of the pandemic and response will substantially change people’s livelihoods. However, New Zealand is resilient and stands ready to weather this pandemic, and there are actions that can be taken to reduce the severity of the economic blow.
Infometrics’ latest forecasts suggest there is little reason to be feeling more upbeat about New Zealand’s economic prospects, despite some improvement in confidence surveys over the last few months. The company expects growth to regain some momentum over the next year, but it believes nothing has changed to help the economy avoid mediocre results beyond 2021.
Economic growth, inflation, and interest rates around the globe remain significantly lower than they were prior to the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. The limited success of efforts to stimulate the economy over the last 12 years are reminiscent of the Japanese economy’s stagnation during the 1990s. Are other developed economies, including New Zealand, at risk of suffering the same malaise as Japan over the medium-term?
Housing looks set to continue dominating headlines in 2020, as house prices look to rally again and rent pressures grow. Who’s got property, who’s paying for property, and how many need property will all be key issues through the year as we build towards another election. But separate from that, the spotlight will keep shining on the housing market as New Zealand’s primary method of wealth creation. With so much money and interest wrapped up in property, here are some of the components to watch in 2020.
There’s a saying that it takes money to make money. There are, of course, exceptions to any rule, but this saying generally aligns with Thomas Piketty’s thesis (Capital in the Twenty-First Century) that if the rate of return on capital exceeds the economy’s growth rate, then wealth will gradually accumulate in the hands of fewer and fewer people. That is, if investment returns are growing faster than the economy, this wealth accumulates.
African Swine Fever (ASF) is now firmly entrenched in every province of China and has recently been reported in several other South East Asian countries, causing an upheaval in the world’s meat market. The Fever, a highly contagious, incurable virus that is fatal to pigs but harmless to humans, has also been detected in parts of Eastern Europe since 2014.
Every time we have local elections there is lots of talk about the low levels of turnout, and rightly so. In 2016, turnout was up nationally to an unimpressive 42%. The 2019 preliminary results from Local Government NZ show a drop in national turnout to 41.4%. At a slightly more detailed level, “metro” council areas followed a similar zigzag of up in 2016 and down in 2019. Interestingly “provincial” and “rural” council areas showed an inverse zigzag, with decreased turnout in 2016 and increased turnout in 2019.
The global economic slowdown will continue to be a drag on New Zealand’s economy over the next year, according to Infometrics’ latest forecasts. Escalating tariffs as a result of the trade war between the US and China have seen global growth expectations steadily downgraded. China, New Zealand’s largest export market and the major engine of the global economy over the last decade, is growing at its slowest rate in 30 years. All these factors mean that next year the world economy could record its slowest growth since 2012.