The Insider

What they're whispering about in Parliament...

The Insider: Bollard to become Bank of England governor?

Spectator business editor, Martin Vander Weyer, believes Alan Bollard can be the man to succeed Sir Mervyn King next June. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Spectator business editor, Martin Vander Weyer, believes Alan Bollard can be the man to succeed Sir Mervyn King next June. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Britain will soon be in the market for a new governor for the Bank of England, and who better for the job than our own Alan Bollard? That was the musing in the latest issue of the Spectator, whose business editor, Martin Vander Weyer, reckoned our man would be just the ticket to succeed Sir Mervyn King next June. Not only is Bollard "an inflation-fighting economic pragmatist who ... knows how to deal with the unexpected" but his "very name suggests the stability we yearn for in monetary matters".

Kiwi Chris Liddell - ex Carter Holt, ex Microsoft - hasn't been idle since stepping down as chief financial officer of carmaker GM last year. Liddell told the Insider this week that he had done a little volunteer work on US presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's campaign to secure the Republican nomination. No word on whether Liddell's involvement will continue if - or rather, when - Romney is endorsed as the party's official candidate.

According to a story doing the rounds at Carter Holt Harvey, the boss, Graeme Hart, tried a little mystery shopping to see for himself how the Carters building-supply business was performing. Unfortunately, the Carters staffer didn't recognise the boss and helpfully suggested that, for such a small order, he'd be much better off going down the road to Bunnings. As the story goes, Hart pointed out the flaws in this approach to customer service but the worker kept his job.

Some economists and number crunchers have noticed a new phenomenon in the business world, which they are thinking of dubbing "irrational optimism". For some time, surveys of business opinion have shown firms' expectations of trading activity have been far more optimistic than the trading results eventually turn out to be. Trading activity expectations are now at levels that might have been considered normal in much sunnier economic times. Perhaps the economists are wrong, and all this positive self-belief is entirely justified, but it does seem a little hard to believe.

Six months ago the Government announced with some fanfare that a high-tech transformation of science was on the way. The centrepiece was that Industrial Research, one of the Crown research institutes, would become the "Advanced Technology Institute" and be transformed into the cutting edge where science met NZ industry. But instead of getting on with it, the process has become bogged down in a bureaucratic tangle over who should control the new body - industry, IRL or someone else. Meanwhile, those advising on the decisions at the recently established Ministry of Science and Innovation could be excused for being preoccupied with what their jobs will be in the new super Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, rather than more profound questions such as the future of science.

Nothing gets lobbyists and interest groups into more of a spin than a change to alcohol laws. A rash of rumours that the Government was intending to pass the Alcohol Reform Bill this week proved to be unfounded and linked to Justice Minister Judith Collins' decision that the stalled bill would be debated next month. The split purchase age of 18 for on-licence premises such as bars and restaurants, and 20 for off-licences such as supermarkets and liquor stores, is to be a conscience vote and this is where the pressure is being applied. There have been three alcohol age votes in the past 12 years, which shows that the issue is contentious, and the decision between an alcohol-buying age of 18, a return to 20 or a split age promises to be a close one.

This week, former minister Nick Smith made his first speeches in Parliament since resigning as the first casualty in the ACC/Bronwyn Pullar war. He showed he still had fire in his belly, and Labour MPs were quick to shed crocodile tears on his behalf, comparing what happened to Smith with the treatment of the embattled John Banks.

On Wednesday the AECOM Global Cities Institute produced its report on Auckland. Invited guests were summoned to trendy Auckland eatery District Dining for talks from managing director Dean Kimpton and his team on transforming Auckland's future. The big issues included creating a high-value economy, embracing innovation and improving transport, as the institute contemplated the shape of the Queen City in 2040. Now, that's really looking ahead.

- NZ Herald

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