Magazine article New Zealand Management

ECONOMICS: Our Dipton Lad Dips Out

Magazine article New Zealand Management

ECONOMICS: Our Dipton Lad Dips Out

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob Edlin

You can rule out one source of influence on the decisions of our Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance: Bill Englisha[euro]s fondness for his home town of Dipton. This columnist once lived in Dipton and was taught at Dipton school a[euro]" for just a year. I crassly hoped this might count for something when, just before Christmas and the season of giving, I tried to secure an interview on economic advice, decision-making and what have you.

It didna[euro]t. Trying to seek a favour on the strength of having lived in Dipton and walked down English Road may even have been counter-productive. English declined to answer an emailed set of questions. His advice a[euro]" according to his press secretary, Craig Howie a[euro]" was that a[euro]Bill is happy for you to talk to others about this, rather than do an interview or comment himself.a[euro]

A politician refusing an interview? Whata[euro]s up? Sure, he was busy at the time, preparing for the publication of the Budget Policy Statement 2010 and the December Economic and Fiscal Update but... Maybe he had become publicity-shy, too, at the end of a year in which he often featured in stories about issues a[euro]" such as his housing arrangements and haircuts a[euro]" unrelated to fiscal or monetary policy management or the Governmenta[euro]s programme for hauling the economy out of the recession.

The question at the top of NZ Managementa[euro]s list a[euro]" about whether Treasury or the Reserve Bank has the upper hand in influencing policy a[euro]" does offer scope for discussion and debate among the pundits of the capital. Yep. It could be buck-passed for others to answer. It seems odd, however, for English to tell a journalist to bugger off and ask someone else who is the biggest influence on his policy-making and what, for him, was the yeara[euro]s policy-making highlight.

But there we have it. He wouldna[euro]t talk to me, so I got on as best I could with the job of finding out who he talks with and what influence they exercise. English unquestionably leaned heavily on the Reserve Bank during the global financial crisis, because of the banking implications and the need to keep an eye on prudential requirements. On economic policy more generally and fiscal policy in particular, the Treasury holds sway. Its involvement in monetary policy nowadays is limited but it was involved in advising on issues like the deposit guarantee scheme. It has some new duties, too. From November 3, 2008 it became responsible for the regulatory impact analysis work transferred from the Ministry of Economic Development. …

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