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 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 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 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.
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.
The Politician Most Likely to Start World War III Via Twitter Award - US President Donald Trump.
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.
My colleague Phil Borkin put together this chart showing that even with the upward GDP revisions, NZ is doing it the hard way: more of us, working harder. pic.twitter.com/WM04pto9LF— Sharon Zollner (@sharon_zollner) December 21, 2017
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.