Fran O'Sullivan: As Trump tweets, NZ must get on with the job


Fran O'Sullivan: As Trump tweets, NZ must get on with the job
  1. Fran O'Sullivan: As Trump tweets, NZ must get on with the job
    nzherald.co.nz
    Steven Joyce: "I get up and and check Twitter every morning just to see what is going on."It went from a position of being worried about somebody's tweets to now being reassured when he is tweeting."It's the days when he is…
    Finance
Donald Trump. 'It's the days when he is not tweeting that I really worry about,' says Steven Joyce. Picture, AP

Steven Joyce: "I get up and and check Twitter every morning just to see what is going on.

"It went from a position of being worried about somebody's tweets to now being reassured when he is tweeting.

"It's the days when he is not tweeting that I really worry about."

No prizes for guessing who the Finance Minister was talking about at the annual "Oscars" for the NZ financial community - the Infinz Awards. There were bon mots aplenty from the politician who will next week unveil his debut Budget, after eight years as Bill English's understudy.

I'm sure the Joyce sentiment is shared by many US politicians, who have ceased to be either amused or stunned by the relentless @realDonaldTrump Twitter feed.

But just months into his presidency, Trump is yet to make any real headway on the big-ticket items that should have defined his presidency: taxation reform; refocusing on trade agreements; and jawboning America Inc to place more manufacturing back in the US on the back of lower corporate tax rates.

Uncertainty reigns on the policy front.

Instead, Trump has diverted himself by scoring political own-goals - the latest the James Comey affair, where former FBI director James Mueller has now been pulled in as special counsel to oversee the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Tweeted Trump: "This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!"

Stock markets have not been significantly impacted. But the failure to make headway on the White House agenda - which amounts to healthcare, tax reform and a fiscal stimulus - has undermined the strength of the dollar.

Continued below.

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Joyce reckons the United States has lost track of what made it a success on the economic front.

The noise out of the US just increases New Zealand's attractiveness as a destination for both people and investment capital. Joyce isn't giving much away about next week's Budget, instead savouring the relative success of the NZ economy when viewed through a GDP growth lens.

It has been a "pretty good story", with economic growth in all but one quarter of the past six years. And if projections by the "understated" Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler (who mentioned that growth record to Joyce) are correct, there are another four years ahead at 3 per cent growth, which could result in New Zealand posting a "decade of growth".

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This would be an exceptional result in the post-global financial crisis environment, and underpins why New Zealand is still a magnet for immigrants.

Yesterday, the latest figures showed that annual net migration reached 71,885 in the year to April 30, versus 68,110 in the same period a year earlier and on a par with the 71,932 in March. That rising immigration is putting pressure on housing and infrastructure and is set to be a major election issue.

But Joyce is endeavouring to paint a different picture to deflect concerns over these persistent pressures. "Just do the maths," he said. "We're just not big enough to absorb that economic growth domestically."

The Joyce construct is that whenever the NZ economy starts to grow,…

Donald Trump. Its the days when he is not tweeting that I really worry about, says Steven Joyce. Picture, AP