5 Comments

  1. Bryan Gould says: August 15, 2017 at 11:44 pmReply

    This is what should have appeared as the text of the piece.

    The news that the number of houses being sold is falling and that prices are rising more slowly has been greeted in some quarters with responses that are – sadly – all too predictable.
    The consensus is that these shifts have been brought about by the Reserve Bank’s introduction of restraints on lending by the commercial banks. The real estate agents have been the first to complain at this threat to their rising profits, but have no doubt been supported by all those others – speculators, landlords, banks – who have prospered by virtue of the crisis of affordability that has afflicted so many of our fellow-citizens.
    The Reserve Bank has been urged to relax the loan-to-value ratios that have restrained bank lending on mortgage and, as a result, have cooled the housing market – and even the government, in the person of the Prime Minister, has weighed in with advice that the Reserve Bank should back off a bit.
    This is a bit rich coming from politicians who have not themselves had the courage to do anything at all to grapple with unaffordability, and who – now that the Reserve Bank has at last taken a few first steps – choose to snipe from the sidelines when those steps prove effective.
    The critics have camouflaged their obvious self-interest in a housing market that continues to inflate – a self-interest, in the case of the property industry, in profits, and in the case of the government, in votes – by shedding crocodile tears for first-time buyers who find it difficult to raise the deposit that is now necessary.
    There may well be a case for relaxing the constraints specifically for first-time buyers trying to buy a (comparatively) inexpensive house in which they intend to live; but the case would be even stronger if the critics showed some awareness that the problems for first-time buyers – and for many others – have been caused by the very failure to act on excessive bank lending that has made it inevitable that housing prices would soar.
    A failure to act now – and, now that we can see how effective the Reserve Bank’s measures can be, to continue to act – can only mean that the housing market would become even more unbalanced and top-heavy, and future first-time buyers and others would be even more priced out of the housing market.
    We can at least celebrate one significant step forward. The debate about what has really caused house prices to rise so fast can now be assessed in the light of these latest developments. The conventional view, shared by opposition as well as government politicians, is that the problem is one of market failure – the failure of supply to keep pace with demand.
    But that is to ignore the fact that the housing market is not like other markets. What makes it different is that, for as long as bank lending on mortgage is unconstrained and the banks can find people to lend to, there is virtually unlimited purchasing power in the hands of purchasers.
    It is that tidal wave of unlimited new money created by the banks washing into the housing market every day that makes it inevitable that house prices will rise and rise. The only way of slowing it down is to restrict the amount of bank lending, and that is what the Reserve Bank has now done.
    It is to the credit of the Bank and its governor that they have acted on their understanding of what is really happening, and that they have been able, with the effectiveness of the measures they have introduced, to demonstrate the correctness of their analysis.
    But why should we continue to allow our politicians to disclaim rather than accept the responsibility that is truly theirs? How refreshing and wonderful it would be if Labour’s new leader were to emulate the great Michael Joseph Savage who, in the late 1930s, used “quantitative easing” – not to bail out the banks – but to build thousands of new state houses. He thereby not only created a long-term and income-producing asset for his government, but provided low-rent, good quality housing for young families.
    I know about this from first-hand experience. My parents married as the Second World War was about to break out. When I was born, they moved with their new baby from private rented accommodation into a new state house, which is where I grew up and enjoyed a happy and secure childhood – to which every child is surely entitled.
    Bryan Gould
    16 August 2017

  2. Heather Halcrow Nicholson says: August 16, 2017 at 11:50 pmReply

    I will never ever forgive Roger Douglas who, so very easily, forced this evil economic system on us. And I’ll never fathom out why so many New Zealanders accepted the loss of our shared property and now imagine that our previous PM deserves his knighthood. His morality is not all that far removed from that of the knightly ruffians of the 12th century.

  3. Tom Hunsdale says: August 18, 2017 at 4:10 amReply

    “He thereby not only created a long-term and income-producing asset for his government, but provided low-rent, good quality housing for young families.”

    One other important aspect to this Mr Gould, it created employment, often for the people who went on to live in these houses. A truly sustainable and beneficial use of money in society. To create an asset, supply an essential societal need and create employment. All of these aspects are beneficial to all of society, rather than the present system which only benefits a few.

    As usual, great work.

  4. Bryan Gould says: August 18, 2017 at 4:31 amReply

    Thanks Tom – a valuable further point. Kind regards, Bryan

  5. Gwyn Fox says: August 18, 2017 at 11:01 amReply

    Dear Bryan
    Thanks for another excellent piece. I cherish a photo of my mum, in her fur coat and natty hat, standing in the excited crowd ewatching as MJS and co moved the first family into the first state house in Crawford Green, Miramar. My grandfather was a union leader in 20s NZ and a significant member of the Labour Party. I am more than tired of hearing that those ‘outdated methods’ don’t work and I have yet to see a better alternative to bailing out banks whose annual bonuses to their dealers are massively greater than the average salary.
    I grew up in a poorish area I suppose, but I didn’t realise it until I was well grown up – we had room to run, room to play, our houses were strong and dry and affordable.