There’s a tradition in New Zealand for our trading banks to employ economists who for whatever reason, periodically talk vacuous tosh.

I’ve written about this before, citing examples going back 30 years, such as the Westpac economist in the early 1990s, wringing his hands with angst at a sharp lift in the wool price. This, he fretted, would be inflationary. Far better apparently, if the farmers remained poor.

But the all-time gold medal for writing rubbish must go to the current BNZ economist, a Paul Conway. Paul has just produced what he describes as a Nine Point Plan for a more healthy economy and mindlessly the NZ Herald printed it.

It has to be the most ridiculous guff ever put in print; well almost, as nothing will surpass the Herald’s “tragic life and death of Sonny Fai” creation, which must be due for another appearance as it’s at least a fortnight since it last had a run.

Consider three of Paul’s offerings.


“Our housing market has been a source of increased inequality and reduced well-being for many years,” Paul wrote.

His solution: “Lifting productivity in the construction sector and improved governance and management practices within companies.”

That’s meaningless waffle.

Construction workers are by and large fairly industrious although take away their cell-phones and they’ll do even better.

My company spends tens of millions of dollars annually on construction, mainly correcting architects’ design errors, but also in office fitouts and what have you, so I know what I’m talking about.

Paul’s increased inequality concern will not be solved by carpenters working faster. The housing inequality he alludes to is an income issue and nothing more.


Paul offers this pearl of wisdom. “The tax system could be doing more to improve our economic performance.”

Right! Well that brilliant insight should put him in line for the Nobel.


Paul’s answer. “Given the small size of most firms it (what? He doesn’t say) has an important role in solving common problems and issues.”

That vacuous guff is utterly meaningless.

The other six suggestions are even worse but I won’t torture readers any more.

The Herald should be ashamed for publishing this extraordinary rubbish.

If it reflects Paul’s value to society then I’d venture the average carpenter whom he maligns, contributes more in 10 minutes work than the BNZ economist has managed in a life-time.


so you don’t like him then? just having a stab around in the dark here.

“Give me a one-handed economist! All my economists say, ‘on the one hand…but on the other.'” Harry Truman

He obviously hasn’t talked to anyone in the building industry–they can hardly keep up. Fighting rules and regs is their biggest time waster.

I can’t tell you how disappointed I’ve been with the economists that have come out it sort of our second lockdown. I had thought that the panic, hysteria and loss of perspective was going to be just a feature of the epidemiological, political and journalism communities, and that the rest of science and academia would be safe, but sadly it seems all are infected. Not sure why I expected more from a bunch of Keynesians who laugh at Hayek, even whilst the developing macro economic reality makes Hayek appear to be the ultimate soothsayer.

A prize winner for certain, but the standards aren’t exactly high among that type.

I’ve long believed that economists should be locked up under the Trades Description Act or some such legislation, and Professors of Economics should be treated like astrologers, homeopathy practitioners, and other quacks and charlatans.

If economics was an exact science, all the world’s economies would be in perfect balance, with just the right amount of tweaking, nudging and balancing to keep things on an even keel and justify their salaries, with economic prosperity for all.

Well obviously Paul is a paid up member of the same club as the oft quoted Shambles who is regularly consulted by the radio and TV lot.I would seriously wager that none of these so called experts including many business reporters our intellect is insulted with do not personally in fact own the smallest pot to pee in and are not among those of us who have captured a few shackles over time by ignoring them and dealing with matters in the real world like getting ahead instead of offering baseless and silly advice.

When the final reckoning from this nasty flu is assessed, it should be the economists who emerge from this fiasco with the worst damage to their reputations.

I have watched in disbelief with the Treasury and Reserve Bank forecasts of V shaped fairy tales.

People have a lot of common sense. The economists simply need to explain the choices that need to be made, and I suspect that the people will make the correct decision.

For example, here is a conversation I had yesterday:

Friend – Mass tourism is ugly. I’m glad it’s gone, and I hope it never comes back.
Me – You do realise that tourism was New Zealand’s biggest industry, pre-crisis? Without it’s return, you do realise that it is extremely unlikely that National Superannuation will continue to be able to be paid out at 65 years of age? Maybe the age will be increased to 70, or maybe older. Would you rather have no tourism, and retire at 70, or the resumption of tourism, and retire at 65?
Friend – I don’t want to work after 65.
Me – More than you don’t want tourism?
Friend – No.

The Prime Minister is running the economic system based on the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, and Father Christmas. In this world, no hard economic choices need to be made. The institutions of the Treasury and the Reserve Bank have collaborated with her in this fantasy. For this, they should be ashamed.

It is ironic that there is only one country in the world which used to be the poster child of “progressive” thought, being the extremely wealthy social democratic Sweden. The Swedes, though, are not backing the elimination experiment for the following reason:

“Swedes tend to have more of a sense of the economy as the engine of the welfare state: damage one, and you damage the other. You also damage public health, society, education and democracy. As one former politician told me, Sweden is not resisting lockdown in spite of being a strong social democratic state. It’s doing it because it’s a strong social democratic state.” (Swedish politician)

So it is…

Thus spake CAKE FACE.

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