What's the most important economic statistic?

We put it to finance candidates - National's Steven Joyce and Labour's Grant Robertson - at the Mood of the Board Room this week.

The answers were stark and offered some good insight into their different ideological approaches.

For Joyce it is debt: "Despite the fact a lot people don't go around counting the debt, that drives everything else - in terms of interest rates, the opportunities that New Zealand has. Frankly it drives the ability to deal with the issues that we all care about."

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For Robertson child poverty: "It is the number of children in poverty, we have to be able to lift them out, because in teh end our economy is simply a means to an end for delivering a decent life for New Zealanders."

Mood of the Boardroom surveys more than 100 business leaders about the issue that mattered to them. The results were unveiled at a breakfast debate between Joyce and Robertson.

In this episode of The Economy Hub NZME head of business Fran O'Sullivan and Herald Business Editor Hamish Fletcher talk to Liam Dann about what we learned.

O'Sullivan noted that there was at strong mood for change from within business - regardless of whether it was Labour or National.

Business wanted to see a bolder approach to big issues like infrastructure and housing.

There was also a growing interest in seeing social issues addressed, she said.

When Joyce was asked about this he described it as healthy and said the strength of the economy was allowing business to think about a broader range of issues.

The survey showed business leaders were upbeat about their prospects for growth in the coming year and confident about most domestic economic issues.