Kiwis are bracing for aftershocks since the mercurial Donald Trump rocked into the White House yesterday.

Now the world's most famous Twitter ranter is finally in office, what will it mean for your back pocket? Russell Blackstock asks the experts.


KiwiSaver balances may take a bashing and mortgage rates could rise.

If the new President pursues tax cuts and an expansive fiscal policy as expected, these would have significant implications beyond US shores, according to investment expert Stephen Bennie from Castle Point Funds.


He believes Trump's loose-canon personality is also making world money markets jittery.
Bennie points to Trump's first press conference as President-elect earlier this month, which Bennie describes as "disastrous".

"Getting into a slagging match with journalists was not the least bit Presidential," he says. "It really reminded the markets of how unpredictable and extremely narcissistic he can be.

"The markets can be somewhat quixotic when it some to pricing in geopolitical risk - one minute it's all fine and the next minute the world is about to end.

"My guess is that in the next four years Trump will create a few 'world's going to end' episodes.

"That is likely to create volatility, which Kiwis might see having an impact on their KiwiSaver balance."

Tax cuts in the US could further affect the finances of everyday New Zealanders, Bennie says.

"The near-certain result of those initiatives is higher interest rates with an emerging likelihood of inflation. And this might be where KiwiSaver balances face the biggest risk.

"Almost all KiwiSaver funds have a significant portion invested in global government bonds. These assets are very highly priced and more long-dated than they have ever been, and this makes them very sensitive to increases in inflation expectations.


"Any whiff of a spike in those expectations and our KiwiSavers will take a solid hit as those government bonds are sold off. The end of the 30-year bond bull market could be a very unpleasant business."

Higher inflation could also follow in New Zealand, says Mark Lister, of Craigs Investment Partners.

"Trump's policies will generally be good for economic growth in the US, which in some ways is good for the whole world," he says. "However, many of these policies could come at the expense of other regions.

"We will see higher inflation, as he spends money on infrastructure, clamps down on cheap offshore labour and boosts growth in the US. This will probably spur higher inflation in other parts of the world too, including here.

"With higher inflation comes higher interest rates, and we have already seen interest rates rise sharply since his election, in anticipation of this. New Zealand will see higher rates as well this year.

"Whether your KiwiSaver is 'Trump-proof' or not depends on how you are invested."

Trump is joined by the Congressional leadership and his family as he formally signs his cabinet nominations into law. Photo / Getty Images
Trump is joined by the Congressional leadership and his family as he formally signs his cabinet nominations into law. Photo / Getty Images


The country already has a reputation as a bolthole for rich foreigners.

More of the world's wealthy will be looking at New Zealand property now Trump is in office, says leading real estate agent Graham Wall.

In the past year, his company has sold over $50 million worth of property to wealthy Americans setting up a new life here, varying from luxury clifftop property in Auckland to high-country stations in Queenstown.

Interest in the country's high-end properties has recently been intensifying, he says.

"We sold a modern townhouse in Parnell to one of the first silicon valley billionaires around 2006, since then there has been a steady increase and somewhat of a boom in recent time," he says. "We are sure part of this can be attributed to the rise of Trump, general uncertainty worldwide and the steady economy of New Zealand."

New Zealand's main drawcards for American lifestyle investors are safety, a stable Government, a sensible tax regime and security from unwanted immigration, Wall says.


"We live in the only country on earth with a truly golden future."

New Zealand has actively courted the wealthy. For an investment of $10m in local assets or funds over a three-year period, migrants can qualify for residency provided they spent 44 days in New Zealand in each of the two latest years.

Wall's son Andrew also works in the family business. He believes friendliness is another big attraction for American investors.

"They come for many reasons - but they stay for the people. Americans in particular seem to love us Kiwis. The word is we are good people."

A large proportion of the interest is from tech entrepreneurs.

"These are extremely smart people who share the same sense of discovery as us and are likely to present exciting opportunities for Kiwis for a long time."


Meanwhile, New Zealand's national median house sale price dropped $4000 last month and Auckland prices are not rising as fast as they were.

Real Estate Institute data showed the national median was $516,000, down on the record $520,000 high in November.

In Auckland, the median price rose $70,000 or 9 per cent to $840,000 compared with December 2015. Property experts reckon house price growth will be muted this year.

Trump delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol. Photo / Getty Images
Trump delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol. Photo / Getty Images


The "Trump factor" does not appear to have stopped increasing numbers of Kiwis snapping up cheap air fares to the US, according to a leading Kiwi travel operator.

In 2015 Air NZ slashed its airfares to Los Angeles just as American Airlines confirmed it would start flying here.

Around the same time United Airlines announced it planned to return to New Zealand, operating a three-times-weekly service between San Francisco and Auckland, moving to daily services with a larger 787-9 aircraft.


Brent Thomas, House of Travel's commercial director, says since Trump became President-elect in November, travel to the States has boomed.

"We have not seen any negative impact because of Donald Trump, just the opposite," he said. "Over our New Year sale period we saw a 42 per cent increase in passengers to San Francisco and bookings to Los Angeles were also up 16 per cent," he said.

"If the price is right, Kiwis will travel to the States, Trump or no Trump."

Because of the low fares, a new trend is more New Zealanders nearing retirement age and beyond are upgrading to better-class seats to the US.

"It is like people are going on their second OE, but they want to be further up the cabin this time because they can afford it."

On the flip side, New Zealand is as popular as it has ever been with Americans, says Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts. In the past year New Zealand welcomed over 280,000 visitors from the US - 42,000 more than the previous year.


The cruise sector is also performing strongly and the US is second only to Australia in terms of cruise passengers, with more than 30,000 Americans visiting New Zealand by cruise ship last year.

"Any 'Trump' factor has yet to emerge and would be hard to specifically identify in a market that is already performing so well," Roberts said.

During the US election, Flight Centre's foreign currency exchange division issued a caution to Kiwi travellers, telling them not to let their holiday money be "Trumped".

However, Trump being in power could be advantageous for Kiwi holidaymakers, says Daniel Jackson, country manager at Travel Money NZ.

"Some forecasters have predicted the US dollar may fall.

"Should this be the case there is no telling how long the rates will stay at this level so it's advisable anyone travelling to the States soon should monitor the market and lock in rates."

President Donald Trump dances with first lady Melania Trump at the Liberty Ball. Photo / AP
President Donald Trump dances with first lady Melania Trump at the Liberty Ball. Photo / AP


One of the biggest issues the New Zealand economy will face in Trump's tenure is his attitude to trade.

Trump ran on a highly protectionist platform and is promising higher tariffs and more trade barriers.

His policies will risk reversing many of the global free-trade gains of the past few decades that New Zealand, as an export-focused nation, has been a net beneficiary.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership will almost certainly be dead under a Trump presidency.
ExportNZ executive director Catherine Beard reckons much work by Kiwi trade negotiators will be needed to deal with the new President's plans.

"Exporters will be watching with real concern at how the approach to trade unfolds," she said. "The United States is currently our third-largest export market, so very important, with consumers that are relatively wealthy.

"Although we do good trade with the US at present, there are lots of our goods exports such as meat, dairy, wine, fruit and vegetables and forestry products, that face tariffs and unless we can address that New Zealand will find it hard to compete with other countries that have better trade access into the USA, such as Australia.


"So there are two risks at play. One is no positive change, as would have been delivered by TPP and the second is that more barriers go up."

Economists are also expecting Trump's policies to be inflationary.

That means that in the medium to long term they may be supportive of the US dollar and result in a faster track for US rate rises and potentially higher long-term interest rates in New Zealand.

"A higher US dollar and rising interest rates in the USA is actually quite good for our exporters," Beard says. "It means the New Zealand dollar is weaker against the US dollar and our exports are more price competitive.

"It could lead to rising interest rates here as well as commodity prices such as oil are on the rise.

"There is a risk that investors in the NZ stock exchange move their funds to the US for better interest rates."


Trump has been making waves on the world money markets by tweeting more than 300 times since the election.

In addition, he has singled out companies that are traded publicly on markets, with names including Ford and Boeing.

In one example of market-moving impact, shares of Rexnord Corp, which makes gears, among other products, fell 2.4 per cent - the equivalent of $73m - in a single trading day when Trump spotlighted the firm's plans to move some jobs to Mexico.

Large investing firms, said the Wall Street Journal, are taking tweets into account as they trade, with the side effect of making banks reconsider their own restrictions on how they use social media. The tweets are also helping smaller investors find ways to make money on volatile price actions.

But Beard reckons Kiwi businessman Chris Liddell's appointment as one of Trump's assistants will be advantageous. Liddell is chairman of Xero, the Wellington-based accounting software maker.

"Trump has some good talent on board like Chris Liddell, so if he is getting and taking good advice, then things may play out better than would be indicated by the Trump tweets."

Trump waves to the crowd from the inaugural parade revieing stand in front of the White House. Photo / Getty Images
Trump waves to the crowd from the inaugural parade revieing stand in front of the White House. Photo / Getty Images


Thousands of Americans registered an interest in moving to New Zealand when Trump shocked the world and was elected US President - and not even a 7.8 magnitude earthquake at Kaikoura put a dent in numbers.

Immigration New Zealand officials said in November they received more than 13,000 registrations of interest from US citizens hoping to come here - more than 17 times the number of registrations usually received in a week.

But are we really now going to see a surge in Americans heading our way now the motormouth tycoon is in the White House?

David Cooper, director of client services at Malcolm Pacific Immigration in Auckland, the country's biggest immigration agency, isn't holding his breath for a sudden influx of disgruntled Trump-haters.

"The lead-up to the US election stirred a lot of interest in New Zealand as a place to live," he said. "Post-election, Malcolm Pacific Immigration has not yet seen this translate into a massive growth in visa applications from US nationals seeking exile from Donald Trump.

"I am also still waiting for the Hollywood movie actor Billy Crystal to call, as when he was in NZ recently he said if Trump became president he would move to NZ."


Cooper believes this is similar to the fallout from Brexit. Those who don't like change have a rush of blood to the head and decide to find a new home, but reality sets in as life goes on as normal so any immediate instinct to flee dies down.

There are similarly no signs that Kiwis are not taking up jobs in the US because Trump has the big chair, he adds.

"When politics directly affect people's everyday lives maybe they take action, but only those with money or skills can realistically make the move."