Kerr on Jobs Summit

Roger Kerr writes about the summit:

In the lead-up to the Summit there were some predictable outbursts.

Veteran anti-globalisation campaigner Jane Kelsey hyperventilated. She saw the Summit as “a Trojan horse for the business sector” and likened it to the 1984 economic summit which was apparently “a carefully orchestrated piece of pageantry chaired by Ron Trotter” (actually David Lange – academics should get their facts right).

Professor Kelsey should calm down and watch Slumdog Millionaire. It is a rags to riches story of entrepreneurship in the new India, the product of sweeping moves to cut taxes, liberalise trade and deregulate business.

India needs to go further to lift up more of its poor, and it is unlikely to abandon globalisation any time soon.

Developing countries are arguably the biggest winners from globalisation – it allows them to sell their goods and services for a fair price.

And interestingly, even though the election only four months ago was largely about economic directions, no one argued that the government was heading in the wrong direction with its economic policies.

Opinion polls also suggest a majority of the public supports its return to more conventional and less interventionist economic policies.

There were no calls for more fiscal stimulus. Participants seemingly understood that the existing stimulus is large and that any further boost could put our credit rating at risk. This would raise the cost of borrowing for all New Zealand firms and households.

That’s an interesting observation. I certainly agree that the level of fiscal stimulus is about as large as we can manage, without dooming future generations to huge interest costs on public debt.

Politically, the Summit can be seen as an extension of the government’s moves to have a relationship with the Maori Party and a dialogue with the Greens, and many other inclusive initiatives.

This is a far cry from the tribal ‘We won, you lost. Eat that!’ style of government of recent years and augurs well for a better consensus on national directions.

Very different.

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