For a man who has consistently warned of the dangers of capitalism and neo-liberalism, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters sure has been talking up the stock market a lot lately.
In the space of just over a week, Peters’ has made multiple references to the strength of New Zealand’s share market.
The NZX 50 passed the 9000-point mark last week – an all-time high for the index.
Peters has used every opportunity he has had since then to bring it up.
“Could I ask the Minister of Finance as to whether or not, as an indicator of confidence, our share market is today at an all-time record high?” he asked in Question Time last Tuesday, as the Opposition peppered the Finance Minister with business confidence criticism.
He made similar comments to The Herald and RNZ in the following days.
On Monday, he told his post-cabinet press confidence that the business conference survey is “best epitomised by the highest, share market that we have ever had.”
In the House on Wednesday, he was again singing a similar tune.
“Let me say it very slowly: unlike the gloom-and-doom merchants over there, the share market is the highest this country has ever seen, and, dare I say it, it is the best performer in the world. Those are real indicators, not the blind jealousy and envy of people denied power rightfully.”
His comments come as the Opposition uses low business confidence figures to attack the Government at any chance it can get.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson, who has born the brunt of the assault, has fended off these attacks by pointing to “real activity” in the economy.
“Yesterday we saw the services index, which shows that it's growing. We've seen the BNZ – BusinessNZ Performance of Manufacturing Index staying positive,” he says.
But much of that has failed to resonate.
Cue, Winston Peters
In response to the Opposition’s onslaught of criticism in this area, Peters is using the record-breaking share market performance to defend the Government.
He has sided with Associate Finance Minister David Parker who called ANZ’s Business Confidence Index “junk.”
“Maybe [the share market is] a better barometer that what you might call professional bias,” Peters said on Monday.
He says the strength of the share market is a reality the Opposition are choosing to ignore.
When asked why he has been bringing up the NZX so much lately, he told media: “I have been a responsible capitalist all my life.”
In his speech revealing who NZ Firs was going into coalition with last October, Peters said far too many New Zealanders had come to view today’s capitalism “not as their friend, but as their foe.”
“That is why I believe that capitalism must regain its responsible – its human face.”
That perception, he said, influenced NZ First’s negotiations.