Most commented stories of 2008
18th Dec 08, 9:44am
1) Alternatives to the current monetary system? Please discuss - 325 comments. Understandably, debate has raged on this site about the ability of our current monetary and banking systems to cope and thrive in the current environment. Other solutions have been suggested. In the spirit of free debate about different ways to do things, I propose a debate on this issue. 2) Opinion: Remove the tax incentives for housing investors - 148 comments It is the elephant in the room of New Zealand politics right now. Everyone knows it, yet our leaders refuse to address it, partly because they and their generation benefited personally through the massive house price inflation it created. I'm talking about the massive abuse of the tax system by property investors that has allowed them to set up various types of trusts and Loss Attributing Qualifying Companies (LAQCs) that make losses on investment rental properties to reduce their personal income tax bills. 3) Questions please on our banks, interest rates"¦anything really - 101 comments There seems to be an enormous appetite for up to date information about New Zealand's banks, other financial institutions and our economic outlook in the midst of the worst Global Credit Crisis since the Depression. People are asking which financial institution is safe? What might happen to interest rates? Will banks keep lending? What will happen to house prices? Is our economy going into recession or depression? 4) Harcourts figures show house prices already down 30% - 91 comments Figures from real estate agent agency group Harcourts show their national average sale price has fallen almost 30% from the peaks around the end of 2007. The average prices seen by Harcourts dropped 31% in Auckland, 30% in Wellington and 26% in Christchurch. On their specialist website www.helpsellmyproperty.net, Harcourts show their average house sale price in New Zealand fell 27% between their peak in December 2007 (NZ$450,000) and September 2008 (NZ$329,210). In contrast, the REINZ median price for New Zealand fell by 10% between December (NZ$511,830) and September (NZ$458,710). The published REINZ median price for New Zealand fell 4.3% between December (NZ$345,000) and September (NZ$330,000), while the REINZ median for Auckland fell 9% from December (NZ$460,000) to September (NZ$420,000). 5) Have your say: Hanover and Mark Hotchin's 50th birthday party - 86 comments Mark Hotchin invited 80 of his friends for a 50th birthday party on the exclusive Fijian resort of Vomo Island on Saturday night, The Sunday Star Times reported. Hotchin paid for accommodation and the events, the newspaper reported. This was the reaction from Bruce Sheppard, the chairman of the New Zealand Shareholders Association Bruce Sheppard: "Any man who can take $1 billion off the public"¦ and have a bloody birthday party on Fiji should have someone turn up with a set of razor blades." 6) Opinion: Why NZ house prices could fall 35% by 2011 - 83 comments By Philip O'Connor This first graph shows the close relationship between NZ median home prices and those in the USA from 16 months before. Each country's house price index has been set to 100 in January 2000. USA house prices appear to have topped out in May 2006 at 206.9, which represents a 107% increase in price in 6½ years. The rise in NZ house prices was remarkably similar, but its peak occurred around 16 months later in November 2007 at 207.6. The 108% increase is almost exactly the same as the increase in USA house prices. If the close relationship continues, the Case-Schiller predicts a value for the NZ home price index of 161 in December 2009, or a NZ median house price of $273,700 (an 18% decline from current levels). 7) Video: Why we should watch American house prices - 83 comments We look at the scary links between price trends in our housing market, and those in the US. And we explore when the likely low points are due to come. 8 ) Opinion: Why we need a crisis and a not so secret agenda - 80 comments For speed readers, I reckon that our economy is being hollowed out by an exodus of wealth generators who are voting with their feet against higher taxes that pay for an expanding government and a growing list of beneficiaries. They are leaving behind a country dominated by a conservative group of voters who increasingly depend on the state for their income, creating a self-sustaining driver towards higher taxes and bigger governments. Only an economic crisis and a government with a new (hopefully not secret) agenda can stop New Zealand from congealing into a low growth, high tax economy that becomes a nursery for Australia. This crisis-driven swathe of reform is more likely than it has been, but is still unlikely with the current political landscape. Last week on National Radio's Panel with Jim Mora I was asked an interesting question (17mins:30 secs in) that got me thinking a bit more deeply about how we run our economy and how our political system is set up to change the way the way we run the economy. 9) Median REINZ house price rises in November, but volumes drop - 76 comments The Real Estate Institute of New Zealand has reported the median house price rose to NZ$337,500 in November from NZ$335,000 in October, but that volumes sold fell to 4,279 from 4,469 in October. "Prices are stable in an unsurprisingly slow residential real estate market," the REINZ said. The median price is down 4.1% from the peak of NZ$352,000 a year ago. 10) RBNZ cuts OCR to 6.5% and expects to cut again - 74 comments The Reserve Bank of New Zealand has cut the Official Cash Rate by an unprecedented 100 basis points to 6.5%, in line with market expectations. Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard said "ongoing financial market turmoil and a deteriorating outlook for global growth have played a large role in shaping today's decision." Bollard said growth would be slower than the 0.5% previously forecast for 2008/2009 (March year) by the Reserve Bank in its September Monetary Policy Statement. He also said inflation would return to the 1-3% target band by the middle of 2009, which is about a year earlier than forecast in September.