We’re being hammered in the media about the lack of business confidence in New Zealand. While there’s no doubt conventional retailing is tough, thanks to increasing internet sales, that’s only one segment of the economy, albeit a sizeable low wage sector.

My company is the country’s largest provider of prime CBD location quality office suites, with nigh on 900 tenancies in Auckland and Wellington. Over the past half century experience has taught us we’re an accurate barometer vis a vis demand, as to business confidence. Well frankly, we’ve never had it so good, our chaps daily turning down office space seekers. Rental rates are surging, yet another pointer to business confidence.

With that number of tenancies there’s always a churn factor but any vacancy arising is quickly snapped up. Add to that a serious labour shortage and these falling business confidence claims seemingly make no sense.

I have two possible explanations.

The sources cited are invariably dull corporate types, arguably some of the dreariest “safe pair of hands” individuals ever to draw breath.

Annually, the Herald host a so‑called business leaders luncheon and follows this up with a highly entertaining special print supplement in the newspaper. I look forward to it with relish. Each of these alleged business leaders, not one of whom has ever actually started a business, are given a half page or so to comment on the state of the nation. Without exception their observations comprise meaningless platitudinous waffle.

Most memorable, about three years back was the “contribution” by the much vaunted Christopher Luxton, then Air New Zealand’s boss. I’ve spent on average 8 hours a day reading for the past 60 years. It’s been my principal activity but never, never have I read such gibberish. On the third attempt to make sense of it I promptly had a stroke. I’m not making this up, indeed as I subsequently wrote about this in NBR, it would come as no surprise to learn there was a spike in Auckland strokes, heart attacks and shock deaths in Auckland that day, from other Luxton reader victims. It’s conceivable Christopher, if unwittingly, is the greatest mass murderer in this nation’s history.

Some of the “falling business confidence” assertions come from bankers for whom I have more respect than the Herald’s alleged business leaders. I say that as, unlike my company, they’re at the coal face across all activities while we’re limited to a particular category, essentially diverse usually high income activities of the professionals, embassies, consultants et al activities.

So accepting the falling confidence assertion is correct, there’s a perfectly sensible explanation. That is, a properly functioning market economy of necessity swings from heat to cooling periods, the latter providing wonderful opportunities for those who truly comprehend the situation. Blaming the government for what is a natural cyclical change is simply economic ignorance, this on daily display from our otherwise bored political journalists, who if they weren’t so indolent would have better careers writing fiction.


One Comment

To be honest Sir Robert, I am sure you always thrive under a Labour government in Wellington – as they bloat the public service and are always on the search for space?

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