“We don’t tell New Zealanders we can stop the global recession, because we can’t,” says Prime Minister John Key, leaning forward in his armchair at his office in the Beehive, the executive wing of New Zealand’s parliament. “What we do tell them is we can use this time to transform the economy to make us stronger so that when the world starts growing again we can be running faster than other countries we compete with.”
Keeping the tax cuts will be a good start then.
That idea — growing a nation out of recession by improving productivity — puts Mr. Key and his conservative National Party at odds with Washington, Tokyo and Canberra. Those capitals are rolling out billions of dollars in stimulus packages — with taxpayers’ money — to try to prop up growth. That’s “risky,” Mr. Key says. “You’ve saddled future generations with an enormous amount of debt that then they have to repay,” he explains. “There is actually a limit to what governments can do.”
It isn’t quite an either or. NZ is spending a fair bit on a stimulus package – but it is mainly infrastructure spending being fast-tracked, than permanently increasing social spending beyond our ability to pay.
Mr. Key’s coalition government, which includes parties to the right and left of the Nationals, has moved fast to implement a program of tax cuts, regulatory reform and government retooling. He won’t label it supply-side economics and smiles when I ask if he’s a Milton Friedman or Friedrich Hayek acolyte. “I’m not deeply ideologically driven,” he says. “I believe in good center right politics.”
But wait – Labour kept telling us he is a dangerous ideologue?
“We have been on a slippery slope,” Mr. Key says, pointing to the country’s slide to the bottom half of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s per-capita GDP rankings. “So we need to lift those per-capita wages, and the only way to really do that is through productivity growth driving efficiency in the country.” He talks at length about how to attract and retain talented workers. What does he think about populist arguments about the end of capitalism? “Nonsense!”
The end of capitalism- film at 11.
For now, the prime minister is focusing on chipping away entrenched regulations that drive away foreign capital — a contrast to the U.S. and Australia, which are reregulating their markets in the wake of the financial crisis. “Good regulatory reform can be an important catalyst toward driving economic growth and coming out of the recession faster,” Mr. Key says. His government is revising legislation meant to protect New Zealand’s pristine environment from private-sector development but misused by greens to stymie all stripes of business plans.
Worth reading the full article
Hat Tip: Anti-Dismal