Tony Alexander has resigned from the BNZ after 25 years as one of the country's best-known and most colourful bank economists

Tony Alexander has resigned from the BNZ after 25 years as one of the country's best-known and most colourful bank economists
Tony Alexander speaking at a BNZ presentation

The BNZ's long serving Chief Economist Tony Alexander has resigned.

Alexander announced the resignation in his latest Weekly Overview newsletter, and said he had resigned after 26 years with the bank and almost 25 of them as Chief Economist..

Unlike his regular newsletters which were usually wide ranging and typically covered topics such as the housing market and interest and exchange rate trends, his latest Weekly Overview was extremely brief and focused solely on his resignation.

"I've decided that, in a world of disruption, maybe it is time to disrupt myself, and have made the call to resign," he said.

Alexander said his role at BNZ had changed over the years and he had been spending less time on economic forecasts and more time explaining economic change to people, both though his newsletters and through 100 or so speaking engagements and presentations around the country each year.

He indicated he hoped to continue as an economic commentator although perhaps at a less frenetic pace.

"While I will be leaving the bank, I'll probably still look to keep people informed as a speaker in some capacity - though maybe at fewer functions than the hundred or so per annum of recent years," he said.

He described the changes the New Zealand economy had been through since the mid-1980s as "truly astounding."

"I've noticed a lift in the general debate about the economy, but with a distinct movement away from the sole focus on rip-roaring free markets, toward a very long overdue focus on how to deliver benefits to more people," he said.

"Now, as policy makers pursue wellbeing and more inclusiveness, we have an upending of old economic models and structural changes in things such as average inflation, wages growth, house prices and of course interest rates."

He also said there were more changes to come.

The BNZ made a very brief acknowledgment of Alexander's resignation in a separate statement.

"We would like to thank and acknowledge the role that Tony has played at BNZ over his 26 years with us and wish him all the very best for the future," it said.

 

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.

41 Comments

Comment Filter

Highlight new comments in the last hr(s).
16
up

Sounds like Tony saw the light some time back and has decided 'enough is enough' Good on him, and let's see what his new, unencumbered thoughts are..." toward a very long overdue focus on how to deliver benefits to more people"

16
up

There's only so long you can eat s..t.

Maybe his conscience has finally got to him. Certainty hasn't for the rest of the banksters, who care not for the wider good but the overseas interests who continue to rape and pillage smaller economies wherever they go.

At least with the Royal Commission of enquiry, the Aussies are fighting back against their domiciled banks that are 65% owned by interest hiding out in the US.

Master in command of ANZ, Jonkey certainly hasn't a conscience, and its time he left for the mothership. He doesn't deserve to live in this wonderful country.

John Key (sorry, Sir John Key) realised early on that '"if I don't do it - whatever it is - someone else will and make out like a bandit, so it may as well be me!".
He wasn't the greatest of traders ( backing by Bankers Trust out of San Fran and Sydney made Elders Finance bigger than what it should have been - and BT gave him his next job after Elders ran up against counterparty capacity) but he knew how to make the most of what talent he had; being on TV being the obvious one. So like Tony Alexander - good on him. He made more than the most of what he was, and no doubt will continue to do so....

Good Samaritian
"Maybe his conscience has finally got to him."
Rather than him eating "s..t" as you suggest, I suggest that it is more of the case of you just throwing "s..t". Very easy to slag off.
I have followed his Weekly Overviews for considerable time - possibly 20 years.
In times when mortgage interest rates were considerably higher than currently, they also varied considerably; breaking mortgage terms was common and profitable. I had three mortgages due to rental properties; his advice on "If I was a borrower" was especially sound and most definitely contrary to the interests of the BNZ. So your claim that he was controlled in thought by BNZ is utter hogwash.
I also closely critically followed his reasoned outlook for the housing market over the past 20 years and his rationale was always sound.
It is so easy for the utterly useless to be armchair critics.
And before any other mud-slinger wish to point out where a prediction of his was not correct; well take on board that economics is not an exact science - consistently predicting the economic future is the sole preserve of shysters.
P.S. I am not Tony Alexander's mum - just one who has no time for mudslinging minions.

And before any other mud-slinger wish to point out where a prediction of his was not correct; well take on board that economics is not an exact science - consistently predicting the economic future is the sole preserve of shysters.

OK, so you're saying that if he was a shyster as he was an economist. By the way, who's the better economist? Alexander or Greenspan?

I'm in the business of eating s..t too.

However, I'm also close to extricating myself from this with the passive investments I have. Back to a real business shortly.

Get an inside job, then you'll understand the b..t that goes on. Most people up top are yes people (not smart enough to run their own company), which explains why the western world is going backwards.

Yes, well written. I had a boss many years ago who said to me - 'zorba, people work for me because they're not good enough to work for themselves..!'. I made a note right then that I would prove him wrong sometime, and I did..

So.. you still have the same boss then?

Zorba,

I was self-employed for over 30 years,but your post is just silly. It is logically impossible for everyone to be their own boss and some of the most talented people rise through the ranks of companies like Mark Cairns at POT, Don Braid at Mainfreight or Lewis Gradon at F&P H’care.

Hi printer8 - I too have followed Tony Alexander for 20 years. He has helped to make me a wealth man, rather than criticizing him if people had read his columns he has been exceptional in his view and perspective of our economy. I can only imagine if anyone did not approve of his weekly accessments of our Economy ( that were free ) they could only be bitter about missing their own boat sometime in the past. I have emailed Tony sincerely thanking him for his views and suggested he should start a new column that is charged for. I will miss his weekly column.

Hi Shoreman
Great to hear.
Economics isn't an exact science; if those who slag him off Alexander had read his Weekly Overview they will have known that on many occasions he acknowledged that he - and in many instances, other economists - were wrong regarding certain events. Anticipating the move on OCR is a simple example of this.
The key thing is that one reads the views of people such as Tony Alexander - as well as others who may have significantly different views - and then carefully consider the rationale of each to come to one's own conclusion. Any economist will tell you that they never get it right all the time but this isn't reason to slag them off. They also wouldn't expect their audience to slavishly follow their every word..
I have a lot of respect for Adrian Orr - yet some useless thick minions (behind the veil of anonymity) readily slag him off on this site as though they are so much more clever and that they know better. It isn't strange that they aren't being offered the role of Governor or they haven't been even head-hunted for even a junior role in RBNZ.
Those who post contrary substantiated viewpoints to the common - or one's own personal - view are particularly valuable as a test to justify one's ideas. However, those who simply slag off, or post unsubstantiated views, are a waste other than falsely inflating their very small egos.
Cheers - have a good weekend.

I could use much stronger words but I strongly disagree with the positive sentiment towards TA expressed above.

TA's commentary was often wrong but worse than that, he would often subsequently deny he was ever wrong and then bluster his way into inflating his own oracle persona.

I give the example of pre GFC, when interest rates were soaring unsustainably and an inevitable crunch was becoming obvious to me, I asked him at one of his presentations in early mid 2008, about his predictions for interest rates remaining high over the next few years and whether a 98 style Asian Financial Crisis event was at least possible. His response to that and a later exchange questioning that reponse a few years later made me lose all respect for this man.

His opinions are simply his opinions and of little value to society.

He often provided very good analysis. What annoyed many of us was his very smug and condescending attitude and statements. He was very much a friend of the status quo.

After taking advice from his Feng Shui consultant...

I couldn't imagine staying in the same role for 25 years. I'm halfway to that mark now and planning when to stop working.

I guess if the money's good enough...

...and the work isn't too challenging.

I would hate it if work wasn't challenging, that's what makes it fun

11
up

After ONLY a quarter century of loyal service at a senior level, its amazing how warm and fuzzy the BNZ's comments about Tony's departure made me feel.

Agreed 25 years of sweat and tears and all he gets from the bank is two pitiful sentences. I guess the fact he mentioned that he had to do 100+ conferences each year hints that they probably didn't see eye to eye in the end.

Tony was a great front man for the BNZ, a real character and it is a shame to see him go however I am sure he will be back. I didn't always agree with his viewpoints especially regarding the sources of housing demand as it often felt like he didn't want to upset his bosses ie the status quo

He may do a better job if it comes out as an independent commentator.

23
up

I'm glad he's gone.
He's made some really demeaning comments over the years.
His comments on Gen Y needing to stop eating avocado on toast in order to buy property were particularly annoying.

23
up

Clearly millennials' $20 cafe breakfast once every six months did more cumulative harm to the national economy than the billions of dollars being stripped out of the local economy by banks year on year.

18
up

Actually, this is the whole conumdrum. We actually want people spending on $20 breakfasts. That's what made TA particularly annoying. The whole idea of a new generation spending all their income on mortgages while existing on instant noodles, a vegetable patch, and sub-$100 smartphones is the antithesis of a modern consumer economy.

People haven’t given this enough thought.

Quite possibly the BNZ will be happy to see the back of him. In this day and age, when retail banks have been in a active player in what our economic make-up has become (a world where we can't operate or 'grow' without ever increasing debt loads), representative like TA don't necessarily portray the BNZ brand as it wants to be seen. His comments at times have been condescending, immature, and callous.

But quite a charmed existence he's had. He's been able to smirk his way through a period of the greatest bubble economics in history while his employer has made out like a bandit. Lucky if you can get it I guess.

I know some people who actually left BNZ based on some of his comments.

Nowadays, one should hold trust AI engineers and big data scientists more than tea leaf reader economists.

Time has moved on~~~

Actually people need to understand the issues with big data and applied machine learning techniques. Often many of those depending on algorithms do not understand what they are doing. The link to the Real Vision Finance interview offers perspective.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaVThI-z0y0

Taleb noted that the people who created the algorithms knew the limitations and assumptions made. The bankers didn't.....

Also good on this issue is James Bridle in his book New Dark Age. Highlights that we actually place far more trust by default in algorithms because we believe computers spit out the right answers than we should, based on the actual quality of answers being generated by the programs we've created.

I.e. "Computer said it's this way. Must be right."

To err is human to really stuff up takes computers. All computer mistakes are ultimately are human mistakes.

AI will still be reading tea leaves. It will be humans adjusting weight and bias and deciding on which data sets to input.

Ffs p.o

He has an apartment in the Gold Coast so I'd expect to see him more often sun tanning at Surfers Paradise beach, drinking VB (or XXXX)

I'm sure he could afford a better quality beer but the Gold Coast? Just goes to show, money can't buy you style.

I think Tony might be smarter than we give him credit for and does see the recession looming,he gets to see the numbers regards impaired debt levels etc:he now has an excuse to sell his shares to fund his retirement and cant be accused of insider trading

Interesting. Someone at this level looking at the numbers day in day out can see the pending storm better than any of us. Perhaps hes getting out just before it all hits the fan.

Another prominent victim of the Housing Conundrum of Aotearoa ?

I think you mean "benefactor of the housing rort of Aotearoa".

Apparently he's decided to become a childrens writer.

I have long stopped paying attention to most of those who call themselves economists. Their ‘profession’ has been shown conclusively to be built on so many ridiculous foundations by, amongst others, Richard Thaler and other behavioural economists, Kate Raworth of Doughnut Economics fame,Yvette Smith’s Econned and Johnathan Aldred’s Licence to be Bad, How Economics Corrupted Us.
Economists wanted to be part of the hard sciences like physics, rather than just part of the social sciences, so they came up with lots of impressive looking equations,but with no empirical backing-have a look at the wonderful Arrow-Debreu Theorem or the CAPM to see what I mean.