Liam Dann 's Opinion

Business editor of the NZ Herald

Liam Dann: Brokers and bankers all in a buzz

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Market reports have been noting five-year highs almost daily and 2013 is shaping up as a lively year.

The local share market is hot. Photo / Brett Phibbs
The local share market is hot. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Even in the dead of the summer heat there has been a buzz in downtown Auckland.

The brokers and bankers are back at work and excited about the year ahead. Frankly, that's because the local market has been hotter than the mid-January sun for the past few weeks.

Market reports have been noting fresh five-year highs nearly every day.

Okay, that's partly because if you look back five years you'll see the index falling through the floor in early 2008. But after growing in value by 25 per cent in 2012 the NZX-50 has continued rising in 2013.

And there is real excitement about potential new listings. Last year surprised on the upside after the market disappointment about the Mighty River delay. Fonterra's hefty float of tradeable units was a great success, Fairfax sold the rest of its Trade Me shares on to the market, and small issues like Moa beer kept things lively. We can expect to see more coming to market in 2013.

There is a risk that this story - that the market is hot - gets overplayed. Whether it is really back for a new round of real growth or whether it is a micro-bubble of wishful exuberance remains to be seen.

But the numbers are starting to look very solid. If you picked the bottom of the last cycle - March 3, 2009 to be precise - then you'd have booked at 70 per cent return (not counting dividends) just by tracking the NZX-50.

If you didn't panic and have been hanging on to NZX shares right through the cycle it is probably comforting to note that the index is now just 5 per cent off the peak it hit at the height of last decade's boom - May 24, 2007.

And if you don't have any exposure to shares - which is less and less of us these days thanks to KiwiSaver - why should you care? Well, because the market is forward-looking and offers an indicator of corporate expectations.

It may take some time yet for the enthusiasm to rub off on the rest of the economy, but as confidence returns to the corporate world we should expect to see growth and new jobs created. The renewed excitement comes with a big responsibility for the brokers, bankers and all those involved in the financial sector - including commentators. The lessons from the past five years are so stark that to ignore them would be unforgivable.

This time around we have an opportunity to stay focused on value, real wealth creation and, most of all, fairness for all investors.

Thanks to some hard work by the successive Governments and key industry players, we have a regulatory regime which should provide more of a moral compass. If we want a strong sustainable market in this country then we need it to be inclusive. New Zealand's population is too small to be burning off investors every economic cycle. Doing so just leaves our companies more vulnerable.

So we'll be watching closely to see what investments come to market and how they shape up. From Mighty River Power to The Mad Butcher, they should all go under the microscope of public scrutiny. It is going to be a lively year.

• On Twitter: @liamdann

- NZ Herald

Liam Dann

Business editor of the NZ Herald

Liam Dann is the Business editor of the New Zealand Herald, overseeing all our business content in print and online. He has been a journalist for 20 years, covering business for the last 14 of them. He has also worked in the banking sector in London and travelled extensively. His passion is for Markets and Economics, because they are the engine of the New Zealand economy.

Read more by Liam Dann

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