The runaway dollar leads the new Listener.
As the NZ dollar continues to grow in value, and control – or lack of control – of the exchange rate becomes an increasingly hot political potato, Rebecca Macfie meets some of the people who have felt its impact hardest.
Here’s a chunk of her feature:
The battles faced by innovative exporters like Wyma and A-Ward seldom make the news. Their stories don’t carry the high drama and human tragedy of mass layoffs, such as those seen recently at Norske Skog’s Kawerau paper mill, Solid Energy’s West Coast and Huntly coal mines, and Rio Tinto’s Tiwai Point aluminium smelter – all of which blame the soaring New Zealand dollar and falling commodity prices for their woes.
But with the currency persistently overvalued and talk that it could go much higher still – Economic Development and Associate Finance Minister Steven Joyce has speculated it could reach parity with the weak US dollar – manufacturers’ pleas for a rethink of exchange rate and monetary policy are gaining traction.
Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens are advocating reform of the Reserve Bank Act to broaden its focus away from purely inflation targeting, and requiring it to consider other factors affecting the economy, including the exchange rate and jobs. They are joined by the voluble boss of the Manufacturers & Exporters Association, John Walley, who has long railed that current policy settings overvalue the dollar, drive investment into real estate instead of productive industry, encourage consumption in imported gadgets and overseas holidays, and harm exporters.
Walley claims that every 1% increase in the value of the New Zealand dollar wipes $200 million off exporters’ annual earnings, and that the soaring dollar has cost the export sector $10.4 billion over the past three-and-a-half years.
In a related interview, Ruth Laugesen talks to the outgoing Reserve Bank Governor, Alan Bollard. We don’t know how lucky we are, he says.
Facing two minutes of questions is Charlotte Grimshaw.
Guyon Espiner meets Maori Council co-chairman Maanu Paul, man who has gone for the jugular with his claims that Maori own not only the fresh water but all the country’s natural resources.
Karl du Fresne profiles Peter Hubscher. When Hubscher left Montana Wines, he and his wife set up a school music programme that is helping to change the world, one child at a time.
Leading the country’s best and biggest arts section, Guy Somerset writes about a new book about tourism advertising that locates a missing piece in the New Zealand art history jigsaw
New books From Christopher Hitchens, Tom Lubbock, Sydney Smith, Peter Robinson, Zane Lovitt and Kathy Reichs. In classical, The Bartered Bride by NZ Opera. In dance, a farewell to dynamo Deirdre Tarrant, who is retiring from Footnote Dance Company.
Plus the usual line-up of columnists, television and radio picks, crosswords, quizzes, and the mighty Noticeboard. Don’t forget the Noticeboard.