The 2017 Interesties featuring Jacinda Ardern, Steven Joyce, Metiria Turei, Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, Grant Spencer, Mark Quickfall, bitcoin, DTIs, CBA, Tony Alexander, Zombie ponzi & many more

By Gareth Vaughan

In what may now feel like the blink of an eye, another year has flashed past.

It has been an eventful year full of change. There has been massive political change both internationally and domestically. Donald Trump moved into the White House in January. And a new government, headed by Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters, took over in New Zealand in October.

Elsewhere there has been change too. On a stratospheric rise, bitcoin is now seen as a bigger bubble than housing in Auckland, where prices have actually softened. Graeme Wheeler has exited stage left and will be succeeded as Reserve Bank Governor in 2018 by Adrian Orr. The Reserve Bank Act is being reviewed, several bank CEOs are flying the coop, and another tax working group is getting ready to recommend a capital gains tax.

Thus 2018 promises to be another year of intrigue and change.

In the meantime, as the chocolates in my kids' advent calendars dwindle and with turkeys everywhere looking nervous, it must again be time for our annual Interesties Awards.

This is where we take a light hearted look at the events and people that made our news this year. As ever, we welcome your comments (and additional awards) in the comment thread below.

Here's wishing all interest.co.nz readers, viewers, contributors and commenters a very Merry Christmas, and a happy and fulfilling 2018. And thanks for your support during 2017.

Without further ado, here are the 2017's Interesties with a special thanks to Jacky Carpenter for her fabulous illustrations and cartoons. (All previous versions of our annual Interesties can be found here).

Banking, finance & economics awards

The Dingo Deans Award for Services to Australian Shareholders, (in honour of ex-Wallabies coach Robbie Deans) - New Zealand's four Australian owned banks - ANZ, ASB, BNZ and Westpac. The four paid $3.425 billion in combined annual dividends, a $745 million, or 28%, increase.

The I'm Sorry on His Behalf Award - BNZ CEO Anthony Healy who apologised for comments made by the bank's chief economist Tony Alexander about young people needing to make more sacrifices if they want to get a house.

The Help Yourself Award - Westpac for using capital models unapproved by its regulator the Reserve Bank for nine years.

The Introducing Some Sunlight Award - Acting Reserve Bank Governor Grant Spencer for doing a TV interview, something the man he replaced Graeme Wheeler wouldn't do, and speaking frankly about the central bank's battle with inflation forecasting.

The Least Surprising Aborted Licence Application Award - Hurricanes rugby team sponsor Fullerton Markets, whose application to the Financial Markets Authority for a derivatives issuer's licence didn't last long. 

The Clear as Mud Award - Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, whose attempt to buy ANZ's UDC Finance was stymied by the Overseas Investment Office, for its cloudy ownership picture.

The Egg on Face Award - ANZ Group CEO Shayne Elliott for signing off on the foolhardy proposed HNA-UDC deal.

The Woo Hoo We're Still Here Award - Insurer Tower.

The Money Launderers' Thank You Award - ASB's parent Commonwealth Bank of Australia, facing allegations of more than 53,800 contraventions of Australia's Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act. 

The Best Name in a New Zealand Boardroom Award -  Skyline Enterprises executive chairman Mark Quickfall (pictured left). Yes a company that, among other things operates gondolas, has a chairman named Quickfall. 

The Goodbye and Thanks for the Acronyms Award - Departed Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler, who leaves us with LVRs, but to his disappointment not DTIs. 

The Goldilocks Award - Departing US Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen, given this is apparently the type of economy she leaves behind being not too hot nor too cold.

The Last One Out Please Turn off the Light Award - Departing NZ bank CEOs. It's bye-bye to ASB's Barbara Chapman, BNZ's Anthony Healy, Kiwibank's Paul Brock, Rabobank NZ's Daryl Johnson and TSB's Kevin Murphy, whose departures were all announced during 2017.

Property awards

The Cooling the Auckland Housing Market Award - China's President Xi Jinping, whose government probably did more to cool the Auckland housing market than anyone or anything else by clamping down on capital flows out of China.

The RIP Award - The Reserve Bank's planned debt-to-income ratio macro-prudential tool.

The Person Most Likely to Enrage Wannabe Generation Y House Buyers - Tony Alexander.

The So Long and Thanks for all the Empty Paddocks Award - Nick Smith, pictured below courtesy of Newshub.

 

The Carrying the Burden of Expectation Award - New Housing Minister Phil Twyford (below in Atlas pose).

The Best Slap Down of National and Labour's Housing Policies - The Opportunities Party's Geoff Simmons here.

The Makers of the Most Self Serving Comments Award - The real estate industry clamouring for an end to the loan-to-value ratio (LVR) restrictions.

The Most Misunderstood, Manipulated and Used to Mislead for Political Gains Tax - Capital gains.

The Biggest Contribution to Intergenerational Warfare over Housing Award - Tony Alexander.

The Worst Attempt at Spin Award - The real estate industry for comparing monthly sales with the previous month instead of the equivalent month from the previous year. Give us a break. These figures are seasonal.

The Best Call to Arms on Improving Auckland Housing Affordability Award - Auckland University's Ryan Greenaway-McGrevy who argued our politicians must declare a war on house prices in Auckland. Jacky provided the picture below to accompany Ryan's comments.

Political awards

The Politician Most Likely to Start World War III Via Twitter Award - US President Donald Trump.

The Black Hole Award - Then-Finance Minister and now National Party finance spokesman, Steven Joyce, for his claim - that few agreed with - that Labour's fiscal plan had an $11.7 billion hole in it. 

The Pinch Me I'm Prime Minister Award - Jacinda Ardern who started 2017 as an opposition list MP.

The We're Going to Hell in a Handbasket Award - Winston Peters for his downbeat view of the economy when revealing NZ First would go into government with the Labour Party.

The Hara-kiri to Cabinet Award - Andrew Little who fell on his own sword as Labour's leader, and then found himself as a Cabinet Minister after the election.

The Productivity Recession Denial Award - Then PM Bill English for denying New Zealand was in a productivity recession, something JBWere's Bernard Doyle had pointed out. The denial came during an election campaign leaders' debate. 

The chart below comes from Doyle's report. NZ's productivity woes were also highlighted on page four of this OECD report in June. NZ labour productivity is "well below" leading OECD countries, restraining living standards and well-being, the OECD said. Acknowledgement of a problem and proposed solutions would've been more helpful from the PM and ex-Finance Minister.

Postscript: Steven Joyce waded into this issue on Thursday. Joyce suggested Statistics NZ revising up GDP figures "finally put to bed the fallacy that New Zealand was having a productivity recession."

But have our productivity problems really been revised away? I'm not convinced. And nor, it seems is ANZ's new chief economist Sharon Zollner, who sent out the tweet below on Friday.

The Backfiring Disclosure Award - Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei whose political career ended in August after she admitted committing benefit fraud, and enrolling in an electorate she didn't live in so she could vote for a friend standing in that seat. Both actions occurred years ago when Turei was in her 20s.

The Me Too Award - North Korea's Kim Jong Un for playing tit-for-tat with Trump on insults and threats and keeping us all on tenterhooks.

The Beware of China's Influence Whistleblower's Award - Canterbury University's Anne-Marie Brady.

The Getting Consumers' Hopes Up Award - New Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi with talk of tackling the likes of the supermarket duopoly, high petrol prices and enabling open banking. But can he deliver in 2018 and beyond?

The Politician Whose Career is Most Likely to End in 2018 Award - Internationally take your pick from Donald Trump, UK PM Theresa May or Aussie PM Malcolm Turnbull. Domestically will English and Joyce remain atop National now the party's in opposition? Then there's Jian Yang. And how will Peters and some of the NZ First and Green politicians cope now they're in bed with Labour?

Interest.co.nz commenter awards

The Consistently Interesting and Entertaining Award - Waymad.

The Well Reasoned Comments Award - Kate.

The Zero Hedge Bear Award - Stephen Hulme.

The Solid Name Award - Solidname.

The Biggest Contribution to Rare New Zealand Birds Award - Kakapo.

The Joined at the Hip Award - Shared by Zachary Smith and Double-GZ.

The Strangest Name Award - Several contenders but unaha-closp takes the gong. Taken from a drone in an Iain Banks Novel?

Best Name - Zombie ponzi, a previous winner takes this one out again.

The Commenter Most Likely to Steal Your Job in the Future Award - BadRobot.

The Services to the Christchurch Property Market Award - The Man 2.

Thanks to all those who've made informative, entertaining and humorous comments this year and added to the debate and discussion. You contribute a lot to interest.co.nz.

Chart of the year 

It has to be bitcoin...

With an honorary mention going to Venezuelan inflation...  

 

Then there's this one. But I'm sure it's fake news...

 And finally Fairytale of New York was voted the best Christmas song on Twitter. So here it is. And a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

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 or click on the "Register" link below a 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.

34 Comments

"The Woo Hoo We're Still Here Award - Insurer Tower." That, got a hearty belly laugh! Thx, and Best Wishes to All for a safe Silly Season and a special thx to the hard-working, and long suffering, team at interest.co.nz.
(NB: We are friends of Mark Q's and he and Jackie are top people)

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Awwww, a category especially for me. Or if not, in your face, Loser Birds!

Happy hols, all.

The Keruru will rise again!

It's Kererū. Happy holiday to you ^^

Whoops, I dropped a macron. Merry xmas, DGZ.

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Wishing all the team at interest.co.nz a festive and joy filled Christmas. Thanks for all your hard work and unwavering dedication behind all your articles, enjoyable reading. Yeah I know, if there were a "Bear" award then I would probably be in the running - lol!

Merry Christmas :)

Oh My LOL! Will I get to share the trophy with Zach?

Merry Christmas everyone :)

Heartiest congratulations to Double-GZ and Zachary Smith for their well-deserved tribute.

You're two of the most articulate and competent contributors here.

Insightful and candid - your analysis and judgement are always to be respected.

And thanks to Greg Ninness and the editorial team for the great service provided through 2017.

Merry Christmas to all!

TTP

Yeah, so I see you understood what the award was for, right?

Taking The Piss.

Merry Christmas Double-GZ!

Thanks Gareth! Merry Christmas to you, and the interest.co.nz team, and readers.

Solid result that.

Merry Chrimbo everyone.

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Thanks to interest.co.nz for its role in keeping insighful and objective journalism going in NZ. Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to you all - staff, contributors and commentators. Sometimes a detective story, usually a useful lesson, often humorous, occasionally a verbal brawl, now and then infuriating, never (or seldom?) idiotic, always stimulating and informative, visiting Interest is never time wasted. A high point in NZ media.

How about a jargon award. There must have been a CEO out there who used more than 4 of these in one sentence while waving his/ her arms around:
Disruption, tulip mania, game changer, self driving, artificial intelligence, new era, diversity, new paradigm, sustainable, first mover, agile, bitcoin, blockchain...........................................

Or an acronym award. I often have to look them up.

Why thanx, kind Interest hosts and fellow electron-torturers. As a DisInterested Bystander in most of these debates, I'm constantly astounded at the Depth of Feeling evinced, and (probably) Extreme Keyboard Pressure exerted, within 'em.

As the founding (and most likely sole) member of PETE - People for the Ethical Treatment of Electrons - May I suggest that a suitable Chrissy prezzie for many Common Taters, may be a blood pressure monitor?

Thank you to the interest.co.nz team for all the articles and the often great discussions which follow. I look forward to turning in again next year.

Oh, and an extra pretend eggnog to the Interest team for keeping up the scrutiny on the dodgy trusts and shady finance scams industry.

Nice one Gareth, great to have a few chuckles.

I hope you all have a great break and that your holidays are free from trolls.

Be nice to see a drive by comment from the Count, just to let us all he is still around annoying someone, if not us.

Unaha-closp...I haven't read that Banks book (saving up my reads as he's not writing any more), but that's a seriously cool name. Nice.

Thanks Interest, for the great forum you've provided this year and the interesting (no pun intended) articles that form the spine of it. And thanks to all the commenters here. It's been great being able to engage in robust and highly enjoyable discussion.

Have a great Xmas all!

I've really enjoyed the platform too, Gareth, a really engaging year. Congrats to your whole team - have a lovely holiday break!

I still dispute you are a single real person - nobody can know so many relevant websites - either Kate stands for a smart AI web-bot or it is a collective - maybe a university class but the comments kept coming after end of term. If I am wrong and you just are the most informed woman on the planet then thanks for the common sense contributions - your award well deserved - and give yourself a present - switch the internet off for Xmas.

Congrats, would thoroughly agree with the award, Merry Christmas

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year to the whole team at interest.co.nz and a big thank you to all of the hard work you do, to provide excellent articles for al of us. We don't always agree and we often argue amongst us, but I love this website and appreciate that everyone who is just as passionate about these issues, can provide their own viewpoint. I am looking forward to next years posts. And thanks for the laughs. This article is awesome!!

Echo the comments of merry Xmas to one and all including Gordon!
Everyone keep safe and be back in the New Year from the beautiful city of Christchurch!

Christchurch.......This city rocks.

Thank you to the Interest team for the good investigative journalism and interesting stories. Your work on also keeping on top of things this year has been mammoth. Merry Christmas

Yes, many thanks from me for the work you guys do. Phew, glad there wasn't an award for being bombastic and annoying.

Roger that...In the UK they are drinking your good health,to your good name,, all over the land... I shall do the same.

We shall be forever in your debt.

I have been a little economic with the truth...You have been a stalwart here. Thanks, & Cheers.

There are many who go and drink to Public Housing, something that many forget in this fair Country..

It was never in the National Interest. Labourers may change that. Some may go Green with envy.

There are many here, worth reading...what Kate did next,, What AndrewJ knows about farming, would fill a book.

Some always go HMMMNNNN.....but I appreciate their consistency and intelligence, in more ways than one.

Even Stephens.....very balanced.

All some talk about is Houses, They may give some a run for their money, It may be in their Interest, it may not.

Blowing Bubbles...most of em.

Many here are a must read, Many here are.not economic with the truth.

It seems we will be forever in someone's debt....Interestingly. Ir is a big joke, to me...But it would be sad, if "Little Interest:" folded....(Like paper Money).

We would not be so well informed and unable to pay one another the Compliments of the Season.

Remember some "Count."...some can't.

Cheers everyone....

Merry Christmas and a lang may yer lum reek to all.

Did the Finally, Finally Coming Out as a Labour Party Stooge Award go to Vernon Small or Alex Tarrant?

Haha, what you call it? The Simon Walker, Brian Edwards, Tamati Coffey or Kris Faafoi award? The Left seem so used to having the media on their side they despise Hosking with a passion. I suspect it’s the same bias with Teachers, except Principals have been notable centre right mps.

I'd like to thank the folk at Interest.co.nz for all the hard work they have put in over the year. It can't be easy having to read all the comments! Thanks for the award, I think, hopefully this will put to rest the idea that DGZ and ZS are one and the same.

2018 should be the year where people's theories are proven right or wrong. Will the property market crash, remain stable, or continue to rise? My money is on stable to moderately rising, but not across the board.

Commenters should spend the holiday period wisely. I recommend early rising, clean living, 5am exercise sessions in the quad and long hikes to freshen up and prepare for the keyboard battles that lie ahead.