Friday's Top 10 with NZ Mint: Time for RBNZ to exert LVR controls; Bill English getting serious about housing supply shortages; Auckland's '2 stage' strategic housing plan; Clarke and Dawe

Here's my Top 10 links from around the Internet at 12 pm today in association with NZ Mint.

As always, we welcome your additions in the comments below or via email

See all previous Top 10s here.

My must read today is number 5 on the history of the world. Doesn't take long to read.

1. Boom, boom, boom boom - NZHerald's Anne Gibson reports real estate agents are bringing forward auctions and selling houses in Auckland without advertising.

Yet still, the Reserve Bank and many in the government are slow off the mark to realise that an Official Cash Rate stuck at 2.5% for two years combined with housing shortages is creating a boom in the usual way.

From Auckland outwards.

The usual expectations of tax free capital gains will do the rest.

And now that Europe and the rest of the world is struggling again the expectations for low interest rates for even longer will do its dirty work.

The Reserve Bank is investigating loan to value ratio controls so it can tighten controls on the housing market without killing the rest of the economy.

Let's hope the new governor, Graeme Wheeler, has this issue at the top of his 'to-do' list when he arrives at the end of September.

Here's Gibson:

Agents say the buoyant market is driving up sales and they are bringing forward auctions to capitalise on the huge appetite. And while some buyers accuse agents of "cheerleading" price rises, agents say their responsibility is to get the best price for the seller.

Wei Wei Elder, from Bayley's, brought forward the auction of a four-bedroom Mt Eden villa from a month to a fortnight.

"Four weeks was too long. The way we marketed it was quite strong and there was a lot of interest. I thought if I left it too long, the heat will go off a bit," she said.

The house, with a CV of $920,000, went for $1.15 million, with five pre-auction offers even before the bidding opened.

2. House prices "ridiculous" - So it's great to hear Bill English's comments to Brian Fallow in the NZHerald this morning that he's on the warpath about housing supply in Auckland. That's part of the puzzle.

Speaking at the launch of the Herald's Mood of the Boardroom survey yesterday, English said housing affordability was "quite a turn-off for young Kiwis". "The prices you pay for a house are ridiculous and they look that way to 24-year-olds with lots of student debt and the prospect of better pay in Australia," he said.

"The most unfair aspect of it is that there's no housing being built for people in the lowest quartile of income. Like none. That is clearly unsustainable."

It's also a problem for a Minister of Finance trying to return the Government's accounts to surplus. "If we want to get back to surplus and keep it there, we cannot afford to have the Government providing growing subsidies to a housing market that then flow into higher levels of debt," he said. "That cycle does not make sense and we intend to break it."

English indicated the Government was considering changes to planning processes and they would have to go beyond the issue of urban limits. "It's about an attitude," he said. "We need local government committed to providing the housing that is needed, not to producing perfect plans."

3. 'A 2 stage approach' - As if by magic, the Auckland Council's Regional Development and Operations Committee Chair Ann Hartley came out with a statement yesterday on a "two stage approach" to a "housing strategic plan."

The council is still talking the talk on planning compact cities. The pressure is building on this.

Stage one focuses on the tools the council can use to improve housing supply and affordability. These include assessing the impact of regulatory fees and rates on housing costs, using council land and development partnerships to increase housing, further improvements to consent processes, and incentivising upgrades of existing houses.

New zoning options and future urban land requirements will be incorporated into the new Unitary Plan. The committee will receive a report on stage one proposals in December this year and a report on stage two scoping in March 2013.

“The Auckland Plan gives strong direction on how we can build up the housing stock through the principles of a quality compact city which aims for well-planned, well-designed higher density housing offering a range of housing choices. The Unitary Plan, which will set the rules, will play a major part in ensuring a quality approach with a mix of dwellings and neighbourhoods across Auckland,” she adds.

4. LIBOR pressure builds - Bloomberg reports Monster fund managers Blackrock, Fidelity and Vanguard are working together to work out just how the LIBOR scandal hurt them.

This is not going to end well for the banks.

Libor-related litigation “has the potential to be the biggest single set of cases coming out of the financial crisis because Libor is built into so many transactions and Libor is so central to so many contracts,” said John Coates, a professor of law and economics at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “It’s like saying reports about the inflation rate were wrong.”

5. The problem with the problem with inflation - Ryan Avent from the Economist does a masterly job here at his Free Exchange blog explaining the economic history of the last hundred years or so and pinpointing what central banks could do next to break their obsession with inflation for the sake of it. He says they should target nominal GDP.

Central banks should focus their efforts on measures of demand -- nominal GDP, nominal income, nominal spending—rather than measures of inflation. If nominal GDP is at a level that’s inconsistent with full employment, demand is too low and the central bank should do more. That might take inflation above some arbitrary level, and that’s totally fine. It won’t stay above that arbitrary level and accelerate unless the central bank keeps raising demand indefinitely. This is not to say that there are no costs to having 4% inflation for a year rather than 2%. There are surely some efficiency costs to changes in relative prices. But if the alternative is a trillion dollar output gap and 6 million unnecessarily unemployed workers, that’s probably a pretty good trade-off to make.

We learned a hugely important lesson from the Depression—that central banks could influence the economy and prevent demand-side macroeconomic disasters. But we took a wrong turn in thinking that the way they did this was by moderating inflation. It was as if we discovered a magical sword in the woods and then went about confronting enemies by whacking them with the sheath.

We can move past this intellectual limitation. Monetary policy can influence demand, plain and simple. This economy could plainly use more of it; millions of unemployed workers are a testament to that. Not to do more to get them to work is to leave the sword at one’s side during a battle, because it looks prettier there. And the Fed should be careful. If it doesn’t use it, someone might try to take it away.

6. Let's leave the euro - Ambrose Evans Pritchard reports from the Telegraph that even some senior Spanish politicians are saying it might be time to leave the euro.

The regional leader of Asturias in Spain has become the country’s first major figure to call for a radical change of strategy and exit from the euro, unless monetary union is fundamentally reformed.

Mr Cascos said the government is “utterly incompetent”, but warned that the deeper crisis is a “perverse” monetary system where capital flight from countries in distress is funding creditor states at zero rates. “This can’t go on for long, or we will have to think about leaving the euro before we are thrown out,” he said.

7. The alchemists of Wall St - Here's a 47 minute long documentary about The Quants who blew up the world's financial markets. HT Tony via email. It's in Dutch and English.

Quants are the math wizards and computer programmers in the engine room of our global financial system who designed the financial products that almost crashed Wall st. The credit crunch has shown how the global financial system has become increasingly dependent on mathematical models trying to quantify human (economic) behaviour. Now the quants are at the heart of yet another technological revolution in finance: trading at the speed of light.

What are the risks of treating the economy and its markets as a complex machine? Will we be able to keep control of this model-based financial system, or have we created a monster?

A story about greed, fear and randomness from the insides of Wall Street.

8. Spanish panic - The Economist says a full bailout looms.

Spain may yet be able to fend off a bail-out for some time. It has some cash reserves and can still borrow at short maturities. The euro area also has its temporary rescue fund, which will lend the Spanish government the initial sum of money for the banks. But even if Spain survives a hot summer, the markets are signalling that it will need a full bail-out later this year.

That would be a nightmare, and not just for Spain. The Spanish government must borrow €385 billion until the end of 2014 to cover its budget deficit and other needs such as bond redemptions, according to economists at Credit Suisse. Even if the IMF chips in a third as in previous bail-outs, European lenders would have to find €250 billion or so. They have already committed €100 billion to rescuing Spanish banks, so for other emergencies they would have only €150 billion of the €500 billion now in their rescue kitties.

9. Chinese power output - BusinessInsider reports electricity production in China was flat in June for the first time since May 2009. Many rely on this statistic more than they do on GDP.

10. Totally Clarke and Dawe previewing the Olympics. They are palpably excited about the buzz around London.

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?

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Bill English has a better attitude towards housing affordability than Key....Key sidesteps the issue, but English at least acklowledges them...but it's time for some action...the Govt has been "considering" for many years now.

Yep some real action similar to the state house building programme of the first labour government would be good.
Unfortunately the holdiay highway would have to be trimed back to pay for it so it won't happen.

Idiots like you really annoy me.
Have you ever tried to drive up north during a normal work week. The road from Puhoi north is a real death trap and more than once I have had to turn back because the fire department were literally scrapping someone off the road.
How dare you call the proposed new road a Holiday Highway unless you have driven the current death trap day in & out.
Also, why are you trying to hijack a discussion on housing for your cheap political means.
Can we also put you down for voting against economic development of the North?

Maybe you should do some research before you comment.  Why build a holiday highway at a cost of 1.6 plus billion when the existing road can be made significantly safer and quicker for around $400 million (bypasses for Wellsford and Warkworth, median strips for Dome Valley and that hairpin south of Warkworth)?
The point I am making is that the government has the money now to address housing, it just choses to spend it instead on other things that are very poorly justified financially.
By the way I live in Northland so travel this road often enough.

You sarcastically suggest that I should do some research before I comment. Well I do my research most days in the real world on the real death trap road that you seem to love.


you claim that you live in Northland, yet no one apart from Wellington politicians seems to call Northland roading development a "Holiday Highway". Your very words expose you for who you are.


for example you say "that hairpin south of Warkworth".  Well mr Wellington politician what is that hairpin called?


Every corner & stretch of this road has its own name. Locals who drive it know that.


Clearly you do not.


I dare you do drive SH1 Puhoi to Wellsford at dusk or dawn


The point that you are making is that you are cheap political Hack, so stick to that and do not drag Northland improvements and development into your arguments about housing.


Oh dear you really do struggle with facts don't you.  I do live in Northland.  Lots of people I know in Northland call it the holiday highway.  And I don't undertsand why you clearly think I am lying.  Ah well, its your karma not mine.

Lotsa people I know here in the BoP and Waikato, call it the Holiday Highway. :-)

To help you understand the potential alternatives to the holiday holiday have a look at

"The usual expectations of tax free capital gains will do the rest." 
Tax free usuary don't you mean? Well not quite, but it is still unearned income which ever way you look at it. People need to get the message that capital gains are simply interest on leveraged money, and interest is a claim on the future. A claim that is unlikely to be fulfilled at that. You can dress it up in what ever language you like but Interest is a wealth redistribution mechanism, from the bottom to the top. Sure the middle might do okay for a while, but eventually even they will be shunted to the bottom as the lust for money at the top in insatiable.
Get the message out that it is not the free lunch that some people think it is.
That's a relief - we won't ever run out of fossil fuels because there's already 5x the proven reserves available to make us extinct.  We'll be gone before the fossil fuels are so Hugh's fossil fuel reliant urban sprawl method of providing the cheapest possible housing is a good one 'cos the last few generations will get more affordable housing and that's the important thing.

The 560 Gigaton "budget" is a useful way of framing the response to global warming.  For example if the rail loop tunnel were to use up 25% of the budget for Aucklanders for the next 50 years, would it really be the best way to spend that amount of CO2?
The bottom line is that some very dramatic changes would be required to achieve the 2 degree target.  Basically everyone buys a bicycle, then it's yachts, bikes and walking from here on.
I am assuming that global warming is worth avoiding, 2 degrees is our best hope of a target, and that the modelling that came up with 565Gt were legitimately carried out.  If you disagree with those assumptions simply say "I disagree with those assumptions", so that we can save some space in the comments ;-)

Dont want to repeat myself from previous threads but Bernard keeps trotting out the same stuff. LVR limits wont help young Kiwis buy houses. They are the ones struggling to get a deposit together. Controls might stop young people over leveraging themselves into a housing market which then drops and leaves them lamenting. That might be desirable. It is not, however how this piece of policy is presented.
English is right to concentrate on supply. It makes more sense to do that than restrict demand and cause further hurt to those most struggling with the Auckland housing market. Another approach of course is to reduce demand in Auckland by encouraging people to live somewhere else.

A large Auckland is essential to NZ's economic future.  The "somewhere else" people will go to won't be somewhere in NZ.

I know this is a popular line but anything to back it up? Seems like the bigger Auckland gets the worse off we are, it's past the economy of scale point and is now becoming inefficient. It's GDP almost entirely now consumption and services - to itself largely. Witness the horrendous costs of infrastructure and housing, an uncompetitive port, weak exports and a failing manufacturing base, If Auckland's our future, God help us.

I went to a very interesting lecture from this guy: where he made the point that globalisation disproportionately favours large cities, which effectively suck economic activity from smaller cities nearby.  So if we cannot keep pace with the population of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, then we will fall behind regardless of how much our respective houses cost.  The same things occur in other parts of the world.


LVR limits will help young Kiwis into the housing market. Aggressive LVR limits reduce the amount of money going into the housing market by limiting leverage near to buyer income (all buyers, not just first home buyers). This is the only suggestion from the top 10 today which can keep house prices down in the long term, any others are short term fixes at best. Look at how much houses cost 10,15 or 20 years ago and then ask yourself the question, what is different today that bringing more houses in at that old market price will lead to different results?
Something similar to an LVR reduces the money going into the housing market, which reduces speculative property price appreciation in the market, which reduces the money going into the housing market chasing those returns. The only question I see about this is will any LVR regulation be aggressive enough, or watered down.
Of course its worth pointing out, if you can't save a 20% deposit over 4 years you can't afford the mortgage at about 6% interest the following year.

You are right in regards to saving 20% deposit if you are not also paying rent as well. It can be hard , but impossible to do both.

Actually you are right, I completely didn't account for the fact that many young people will be switching from renting to ownership. The calculation above is definitely naive in this regard though I would expect that around the time of purchase interest payments will exceed previous rental payments, probably for a few years.
Its also true that property prices influence rental prices, as renting and ownership are alternatives, so if the goal is affordable housing making the NZ economy more competitive then bringing down and keeping down the market price of property will make a big difference.
However, a policy of over supply to surpress prices temporarily can only lead to further bubble activity down the track. You know most properties which are in the market today entered at a much lower price, even adjusting for income inflation. I think to avoid Einsteins definition of insanity (in the property market) you need to actually change something significant, not simply to keep feeding the bubble market, and expecting non-bubble results.
I don't think NZ over all has an under supply of property in fact, and have yet to see any data which challenges this.

Re; #1 - Does anyone, except RE Agents, really take any notice of Property stories in the NZ Herald.  It's just a promotional outlet for the REINZ.  Bernard - I assume that you were struggling for articles today.

#1: LVRs. Listen to the chatter Bernard. Yesterday a post by Basel Brush III noted the purchase of a property in Botany, by an outlander, (a non-resident) sight unseen, for $1.5 million with a QV of $800k. The RE would have been one of Aucklands top 10 RE agents. Not anonymous. Last week Christov noted a whisper from a friend who is an RE at Aucklands top agency that the bulk of the money coming into the market is "new, outside" money. It would be a reasonable assumption that these transactions are not subject to finance. It's all CASH. New CASH. Outside CASH. The question you have to ask yourself is "who will be affected by tighter LVR controls?" It certainly won't be the outlanders.

Yah. I think Bernard is, in part,  fighting the battle of 2002-2007.
This boom may well have a contribution from low LVR ratios.... But I'm guessing that the elephant in the room will continue to be ignored. Even when Bernie is standing knee deep in Elephant doo-doo.
Looking forward to the next article on baby boomers being right villains....With nary a glance to any influence from other aspects of the economy... Such as immigration policies that give free entry to those with enough cash in their back pocket.
Anyone notice the Rich List article yesterday?

Easy to fix if you really want to. Well if there was a way to short the Auckland market it would be easy. Buy three or four large houses in Botany. Gift them to refugess from Christchurch, and specifically those poor homeless Road Knights Motorcycle Club Members, Skinheads, and on the other extremities put up the homeless Mongrel Mob and Black Power.

So is it time for control over who can buy a property.
To my mind 1000 "Outlanders" paying cash at over-the -odds prices is just as bad or worse than one or two buying a couple of bits of South Island high country.
These " Outlanders" probably pay little or no tax to our IRD and blight the Auckland housing market.
The only controls with any bite would be banning them unless they are residents or imposing a hefty tax on the assets of non-resident property owners unless they can prove they are contributing to the rest of the tax base.
The "hot cash" is also artificially helping keep the NZ$ too high as well.

BB3: It's all "hot cash". Take a wander around google, search for tranferring or moving money out of China. Difficult. Playing by the rules the limit is USD $500 per day with a maximum of $50,000 per annum per passport plus a Tax Clearance. Take a long time to get $1.5 million out. Yet you can stroll down through the "new territories" across the border into Hong Kong, with a suitcase no questions asked.

Yes $120,000,000,000 of it according to those who know.
Just the tiniest piece of that is enough to upset our property market.
As I have commented before these investors(?) only move as far from landing at Auckland International as they are able to comfortably walk in a day.
Time for our dilatory leadership in Wellington to give this one the heave-ho. We can only wish!

I don’t think Auckland is suffering from a housing supply shortage as much as it is experiencing a Demand Crisis. I think if the market wasn’t so distorted with lower interest rates for so long Auckland wouldn’t be seeing so many “margin” buyers who would normally sit on the sidelines and rent enter the market. These margin buyers are seeing their friends doing so well in the market and are deciding that since interest rates are so low they too can afford to buy a house when in reality they wouldn’t when interest rates we at a more normal rate making money worth something. Right now money isn’t worth anything thanks to low interest rates so there is very little downside risk to enter the market.  This is the same exact scenario that got the US into a building spree and then the subsequent bust that left so many suburbs devastated. They too though there was a “supply problem” and building more houses was the answer when all along it was low interest rates that propelled the entire mess.
If rates were back in the 5-7% range we would be seeing a demand crisis at all and nobody would be talking about having to balloon supply to play catch up!

fyi from Bloomberg on what's happening in China's shipbuilding industry
China has too many ships.
The glut has pushed new vessel prices to eight-year lows and caused a 49 percent plunge in first-half orders at the nation’s more than 1,500 shipbuilders. It’s also tipped smaller yards into bankruptcy and hit earnings at larger players.

4. Loved this quote from John Coates. 
“It’s like saying reports about the inflation rate were wrong.”


It's Friday YaY...!.....maybe time for a tipple ...or two...anyhoo
 As good as this bar is," said the Scotsman, "I still prefer the pubs back home. In Glasgow, there's a wee place called McTavish's. The landlord goes out of his way for the locals. When you buy four drinks, he'll buy the fifth drink."


"Well, Angus," said the Englishman, "At my local in London, the Red Lion, the barman will buy you your third drink after you buy the first two."

"Ahhh, dat's nothin'," said the Irishman, "back home in Cork at my favourite pub, the moment you set foot in the place, they'll buy you a drink, then another, all the drinks you like. Then, when you've had enough drinks, they'll take you upstairs and see dat you gets laid, all on the house!"

The Englishman and Scotsman were suspicious of the claims. The Irishman swore every word was true, but they ask, "Did this actually happen to you?"


"Not meself, personally, no," admitted the Irishman, "but it did happen to me sister quite a few times."



Happiness and potatos te yeh.

Ha...! ostrich so true....another quiet day down on the farm....don't worry , they'll wait n see...n wait some more, ain't no reason to get out of the rocking chairs being Friday n all.
 Sit back n whittle a while.

A bit harsh ostrich - DMO choose not to pay up on 19s - Total bids more than covered total offered, just not the right date allocation.
I often think if the tender is on an unusual day, which today is, some players forget to bid - we are tiny after all - easily lost.  

Chinese Government Hackers
The networks of major oil companies have been harvested for seismic maps charting oil reserves; patent law firms for their clients’ trade secrets; and investment banks for market analysis that might impact the global ventures of state-owned companies, according to computer security experts who asked not to be named and declined to give more details.

I finished "Gideon's Spies" a month or two back, that sort of stuff has been going on for decades. The Mossad acquired predictive software from the US in the 80's, engineered a virus into it and sold it to the CIA and a number of other friendly intelligence services. They could see every elses intel. LMAO. A very informative read, and actually reads like a novel. Some useful info in the Iran nuclear issue.

The article includes: "Contrary to the prevailing narrative, the credit crunch was not the result of market failure, but a confluence of extraordinary events whose root causes lie in ruinous public policy, inadequate supervision and absent political leadership."
Nothing about corrupt market players i.e. banks and their lobbiests.
Which to me looks a lot like the argument being used is no one could have seen this happen. 
And we know that is an incorrect statement once one moves past the neoclassical economic view of the world.

When general inflation was a problem, the public had to go through a period where there expectations were changed. This was achieved by creditable targets from an independent Reserve Bank. The occassional proclaimation from a politician wasn't enough.
I suspect the same is true with house price inflation. Bill English press releases and even minor changes in government or Reserve Bank policy will not change expectations of ever increasing house prices.
Only if the government made eliminating house price inflation an official target of the Reserve Bank will expectations actually change.
Changing expectations might require less interventions, like strict loan to value compared with trying to achieve the same result through unofficial interventions from the Reserve Bank.


At last count there were 13 banks other than Barclays which were carrying out a LIBOR fraud and it will be the court cases for damages that nail their coffins closed and bury all of them....and bury a good many thieving lying politicians as well.
There remains a majority of Kiwi who are too dumb to know that the worlds economic engines are in decline and who fail in all tests to understand why Bill English's promised land of surplus is so much BS. The minority in the know have made plans to survive the depression.
Meanwhile banks continue to advertise even on local radio for fools to come on in and borrow heaps to buy price bloated property. I doubt they are catching many fools any more.
The govt continues to spew out BS claiming they are working to make housing much scaffolding rules have just added $2000 to the cost of every new house.
Farmers can smell the smoke of the depression gathering strength and promising to smash into the export sector....the same sector that Bill English said would save the nation..provide 170ooo new productive jobs....utter rubbish.
The Kiwi who escaped to Aus...will return to sign up for the dole....and blow the budget to pieces.
Retail outlook.....grim
Govt tax theft take outlook....sick
014 chances for National.....pretty obvious really.
Future under the socialists with Shearer in charge...piigs membership for NZ within one year....IMF intervention and rates to double by 017...suck on them apples.

Right on Wolly. 
PDK's onto it too.
After 70 years of scoffing at conspiracy theorists I've set up a solar panel system for lighting and battery charging, I'm going back to kitchen gardening mainly to grow spuds to provide future seed, I've built up 3 years of firewood supplies and counting.  Next job is a water tank. I don't know when it's going to hit the fan, but it surely will happen.
Unless of course Reserve Bank forecasts suddenly defy tradition and zoom in on the Real World. PIIGS might fly too.

Go for the sugar rich spuds variety Alan...and ferment the mash to distil the spirits...charcoal some genuine wine barrel Oak and use it to age the plonk in a barrel. Swap one bottle, 100 proof, for one fresh side of Venison or two piglets, or two fat Snapper. NO gst....

Bubble bubble bubble...$1,500,000,000,000,000

Bernard : Several years ago , you trumpeted the fact that Ordos City in China was a ghost town , a brand spanking new city , with precious few inhabitants ...... and you went on to use that as an example of Chinese over-building / bureaucratic bungling / a bubble waiting to be pricked / yadda yadda ......
.......but ,  according to the Gummy sources , Ordos City currently has 1 953 741 citizens ! .....
Now , I can understand you driving through Ophir ( population 50 ) , and thinking it a ghost town . Albeit a stunning wee spot , with an amazing history .....
....... but 2 million Chinese within a modern metropolis  ....... how could you not see some of  them ?