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The HYEFU – Croaking Cassandra Comment

15/12/2017

Michael Reddell, author of the Croaking Cassandra blog, takes a look at some aspects of the HYEFU released yesterday.

Attempting to paraphrase his comments would not do them justice.

However, they are worthy of a careful read even for non-economists like Adam. The concluding sentiments are worth looking at, but the preceding thoughts need to be read as well to get the context.

But in some ways the biggest mystery in the entire document is the bottom line fiscal numbers themselves. As I noted before the election, I found it hard to conceive that people voting for a change of governmnet, for a left-wing government, were really voting for government spending as a share of GDP to keep on falling.  On the government’s – perhaps over-optimistic numbers, core Crown expenses in the last forecast year is expected to be smaller, as a share of GDP, than in any year of the previous National-led government.    To be sure, lower government spending will keep some pressure off the real exchange rate, but there are other ways to deliver that outcome.   And it is curious to think that the governing parties campaigned on the existence of all sorts of deficits in the provision of public services, and yet their fiscal numbers keep net debt (including the assets in the NZSF) dropping away to almost nothing.

net debt

I doubt it will happen: the economy is likely to be weaker (and it would be unprecedented if we got to 2022 without a recession) and spending pressures are likely to be greater than allowed for in these numbers, but these are plans the government is articulating and defending.  I’m not entirely sure why.

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