Bernard is an economics columnist for the NZ Herald

Bernard Hickey: Protesters' picks


The occupy Wall St movement has gone global in the past month and has even spread as far as New Zealand, albeit in a toned-down version. Many of the complaints of the movement are valid, although the situation is different here.

We haven't had the excesses of the investment bankers. Our banks are relatively simple, albeit equally large, concentrated and profitable.

There was some awful behaviour in the finance company sector, which forced several large taxpayer bailouts that had much of the whiff of the bailouts on Wall Street. We were lucky most collapsed before our deposit guarantee was introduced.

New Zealand also hasn't seen the complete transfer of income growth from the 99 per cent to the 1 per cent during the past 20 years, but there has still been a widening of the gap between the richest and the poorest.

Last year's tax cuts accelerated that movement and the property boom from 2002 to 2008 created a two-class society of rich property owners and tenants.

The scale of the outrages was proportionately lower here, but there's still plenty for Occupy New Zealand protesters to campaign for:

1- A land tax to rectify the transfer of wealth to the landed generation and make our budget more sustainable.

2- Reversing the tax cuts for the highest income-earners, which are not working to boost economic growth and are being paid for by foreign borrowing.

3- Joining the European push for a global Financial Transactions Tax to forcibly reverse the financialisation of the economy.

4- Avoiding taxpayer bailouts of our biggest banks. The Reserve Bank's Open Bank Resolution proposal is heading in the right direction.
5 Extending the retirement age to 67 over time.

6- Our banks further reducing their reliance on foreign bank funding that can freeze in a crisis.

7- Pulling out of free trade talks with the United States, which is an enemy of free trade and bankrupt politically and financially.

8- Balancing our budget as quickly as possible to reduce the burden of debt on future generations.

9- Reducing consumption of imports, and saving, producing and exporting more.

- Herald on Sunday

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Bernard is an economics columnist for the NZ Herald

Bernard Hickey is the publisher of Hive News, a Wellington-based political and economic subscription news email service. He also writes for and appears regularly on Radio New Zealand, Radio Live, TVNZ and TV3. He has been a financial journalist for 25 years, having worked for Reuters, the Financial Times Group and Fairfax Media.

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