As predictably as bad weather on a public holiday, sore loser commentators have been quick to lecture the incoming Labour-led government on its need to take good care of the economy.

It's as though the Economy, with a capital "E" is some sacred God that heathen lefties cannot be trusted to babysit until such time as it's back in the safe hands of Steven Joyce and the New Zealand Initiative priesthood.

This is the economy, let's not forget, that is so out of kilter with reality that 86 per cent of non-home owning Aucklanders cannot afford to buy one.

It's the crazy world where Monday's front page news was bemoaning the fact that for once, the annual capital gain in 2017 for those lucky enough to own their own home, was less than their annual wages.


Unlike 2016, for example, when the capital gain on the median priced Auckland house was $54,000 - or slightly more than most workers earned! And tax free.

Refreshingly, both new Prime Minister Jacinda Adern and her coalition partner, Winston Peters were having none of this hectoring nonsense.

First out of the blocks was the New Zealand First leader - not a known leftie - who in revealing he'd chosen Labour over National, declared that "far too many New Zealanders have come to view capitalism, not as their friends, but as their foe, and they are not all wrong." Capitalism, he said "must regain its responsible, its human, face."

On the Labour Weekend television political shows, Adern echoed this.

"How can you claim you've been successful when ... you've got the worst homelessness in the developed world...[and] when most people's incomes aren't keeping up with inflation."

She said "if you have hundreds of thousands of children living in homes without enough to survive, that's a blatant failure."

After the blandness of the post-election courtship period, this gutsy return to business was a welcome change.

It signals we are in for a period of activism from the three-party coalition, in which the "Economy" will, to borrow Peters' metaphor, begin that radical facelift.


A few days earlier, leading economic forecaster Ganesh Nana, executive director of Business and Economic Research Ltd (BERL), had set the tone in a keynote speech marking the company's 60th anniversary.

He declared that neo-liberal economics, known here as Rogernomics, was not just dying, it was "well and truly dead in the water - belly up, being towed by a life raft known as taxpayer largesse."

As evidence he noted how the global finance and banking industry had had to be bailed out and subsidised by huge taxpayer subsidies, and how monetary authorities had targeted consumer inflation, but "turned a blind eye to the immensely disruptive and damaging havoc caused by uncontrolled asset price inflation."

Zeroing in on New Zealand, Dr Nana referred to the neo-liberal model as "an illusion increasingly reliant, not on the market, but on government (i.e. taxpayer) largesse to supplement workers' incomes."

Working for Families "is essentially a subsidy to prop up businesses that adopt a low wage business model." He pointed to the growing inability of this market economy "to deliver incomes for workers to be able to live and to provide for their families."

With this economic model not delivering to all, "a pro-active government is a necessity not a burden."

His recipe for breaking out of the existing low productivity, low profitability, low wage "cul-de-sac" is for all businesses to pay "at least x per cent above the minimum wage," - the x to be debated but "significantly above zero".

Noting the recent NZ Herald Mood of the Boardroom survey had indicated that 91 per cent of respondents were prepared to pay the Living Wage, Dr Nana challenged these captains of industry "to stop waiting for other to take the lead" and - I paraphrase - put their money where their mouths were.

The Living Wage, as calculated by the Family Centre Social Policy Research Unit, currently sits at $20.20 an hour. The statutory minimum wage is $15.75. The three coalition parties have all pledged to raise the latter: Labour to $16.50, the Greens to $18 and NZ First to $20.

As new faces go, Dr Nana's challenge seems a good place to start.