Pessimism among New Zealand businesses has reached its worst point in a decade, according to a bank survey, continuing a trend emerging since the Labour-led Government took power.
ANZ’s latest survey today showed a net 45 per cent of respondents in July expected the country’s economy to worsen in the year ahead, compared to 39 per cent last month.
ANZ chief economist Sharon Zollner warned the trend was increasing the risk of the economy stalling.
“Sustained low business confidence increases the risk that firms will delay investment and hiring decisions, in what could become something of a self- fulfilling prophecy,” she said.
The figures are now at their lowest point since May 2008.
Their downwards trend has been an ongoing target of attack by the opposition, which says Jacinda Ardern’s Government has spooked companies with its policies.
“This Government is having the same effect on business confidence that a global finance crisis did a decade ago,” National Party leader Simon Bridges told reporters today.
Changes such as a ban on future oil exploration, industrial relations laws and new immigration rules were already seeing more Kiwis heading to Australia, he said.
But the Government has rejected that, saying the figures reflect bias on the part of business and global conditions, rather than any change in the domestic economy.
“The fundamentals of the economy are sound. We’ve still got relatively low unemployment, we’ve got a surplus, we’ve got debt tracking down,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said today.
“Quite clearly we know from previous business confidence surveys that, when there is a Labour-led government, (businesses) have generally been pessimistic.”
New Zealand’s gross domestic product, the envy of the developed world in recent years, has slipped since late 2017.
It saw growth of 0.5 per cent in the first three months of the year, compared to an average of 0.9 per cent since 2014.