It will be a disaster for this country if we let the coming downturn kill the building boom.
New Zealand isn't going broke. We have low unemployment. We can afford a short sharp recession to rebalance the economy and get on top of inflation.
It won't be pleasant but - like the OECD, World Bank and IMF - I still have confidence that our economy is robust enough to handle the post-pandemic pain.
So, it's not the short-term pain that bothers me. What bothers me is the potential for a cyclical downturn to do longer-term damage to our economic prospects.
Housing is perhaps the biggest issue this country has when we consider inequality and poverty.
That was highlighted again last week in new research by Infometrics, which showed 2022 is the worst time to be a first home buyer since 1957.
Report author Gareth Kiernan noted that for many young people the only realistic path to homeownership was now with assistance from the "bank of mum and dad".
This was just reinforcing the divide between families that are homeowners and families that are not.
"It strikes at the heart of New Zealand's egalitarian foundations," Kiernan said.
In my view the boom and bust nature of our construction sector has been one of the big contributing factors.
Long periods of under-building relative to population growth have kept demand ahead of supply and contributed to the soaring house prices across the past few decades.
While that has left many of us to feel richer on paper it has also pumped up the nation's debt levels, lined the coffers of the Australian banks that lend to us and left many of us wondering about how our children are going to afford homes.
Now, just as we seem to be making some progress with record levels of building consents issued (at about 50,000 a year), we face the prospect of another crash.
Through Auckland's central suburbs, signs of the boom are everywhere.
With zoning laws relaxed there are plans for multi-unit developments all around us.
But we appear to be building into a perfect storm.
The combination of a supply crunch, a credit crunch and a market where sale prices are falling threatens to bring it all to a grinding halt.
Every week it seems there is fresh news of another developer going into liquidation or calling receivers.
We need to keep it in perspective.
Clearly the much higher levels of construction means there are more firms involved.
Some failures are inevitable but there are fears we may be at risk of a slump of historic proportions.
Building consent data for the past 50 years shows two big contractions that did long-term damage.
After a peak of around 40,000 consents a year in 1974, numbers dropped sharply as the economy felt the twin shocks of Britain joining Europe and oil prices spiking.
We consented just 14,000 homes in 1981.
Construction began to build again through the first half of the 1980s but peaked in 1985.
While the 1987 crash famously caused some high-profile corporate failures, it seems high interest rates through the mid-1980s had already taken a toll on the construction sector.
There were peaks and troughs through the 1990s but the cycles were short-lived.
Residential building never really boomed again until the early 2000s.
From a relatively low point below 20,000 in 2001 numbers built steadily to a peak of 32,000 a year by mid-2004.
Again higher interest rates started to bite then it all dipped sharply again in 2007 as the Global Financial Crisis started to hit.
That was the start of a long and costly slump.
Annual consents didn't get back above 20,000 until 2013 by which time the immigration boom was in full swing.
Efforts across the past several years have started to pay off.
An easing of prices as supply catches up to demand shouldn't have been a huge issue.
It is what we were working to achieve.
But global economic conditions haven't played ball.
Global supply chain issues have kept inflation elevated. Interest rates are rising faster than hoped.
Overlapping that is a decades-old issue of local building material costs being elevated by the dominance of a few players in the market.
The recent controversy around the supply of plasterboard has highlighted the urgency of the issues.
Suddenly the Government seems to get it. Building and Construction Minister Megan Woods is forming a task force to investigate and report back to her.
Woods has also written to Fletcher Building over its trademarks. The Government is asking the listed construction firm to refrain from taking action against other parties who import plasterboard which might have the same colours as their Gib.
It all seems a bit reactive in a sector where these issues have been bubbling under the surface for years.
One suspects the Government has had word from within the industry about how precarious the situation is.
Regardless, any action is better than none.
The net effect of this all this is to exert pressure on Fletcher Building to play ball and not leverage its dominant market position.
Obviously, there will be a slowing of building activity across the coming 18 months.
The price signals are no longer there to encourage a boom. But that doesn't have to mean a bust.
Hopefully all the parties involved in the industry can work together to minimise company failure and for those who can't make the numbers work to park their plans while the cycle plays out.