Decisions, decisions

Another week begins and another big decision looms for the government as it reviews whether to move Auckland down to COVID alert level one from Thursday. No doubt, there will be many factors for Cabinet to weigh, but the news since Alert Levels were last reviewed has typically highlighted New Zealand’s good position internationally. The total number of active cases is now down to 41 (eight are community cases) and, according to the Ministry of Health, no-one in the country is currently hospitalised with the virus. By contrast, many of the overseas headlines are scary. Last week, lockdown measures were re-imposed in parts of Western Europe, the three largest Canadian provinces declared they were in a second wave and UK officials said things were ‘heading in the wrong direction.’ And of course, Friday saw the news that President Trump has been diagnosed with the virus…

Data out last week continued to suggest that the NZ economy is holding up better than many feared, though it has still taken a sizable hit. Last week’s building consents data showed construction broadly holding up to its pre-COVID levels, and we saw a solid lift in business confidence. Mobility data seems to suggest that the time Auckland has been above Alert Level 1 hasn’t reduced activity as much as anticipated. Still, it’s not entirely smooth sailing for the domestic economy, and as we tick over into a new month and get that little bit closer to summer, it’s a reminder that the closure of the border is going to put a big dent in economic activity, even if we do end up with a trans-Tasman bubble at some point (see our chart of the week below).

Border restrictions aside, New Zealand is in a comparatively good position globally, so its notable that the RBNZ has been more explicit in signalling the potential for a negative policy interest rate. Central bank policy releases this week from two of the more sceptical central banks on negative policy rates – the RBA and the US Federal Reserve – will be worth perusing for their favoured next steps. We are very much operating in an unprecedented environment, and it’s fair to say that central banks – like the rest of us – have differing opinions on the right responses. Interesting times indeed.

Contact us

Jane Turner

Senior Economist

Originally hailing from sunny Nelson, Jane moved to Auckland to join the ASB team in 2008.  As Senior Economist, Jane's main focus is co-ordinating the team’s macro-economic forecasts.  In this key role, Jane was thrilled by the team’s twice consecutive win of the Consensus Economics Forecast Accuracy award.   

During her decade-long career in economic forecasting, Jane has gained a thorough knowledge of the New Zealand economy.  Her current focus is on New Zealand GDP growth, including both manufacturing and the construction sectors.  She has spent time forecasting most sectors of the economy, including inflation, trade, housing, labour and financial markets.

Prior to joining ASB, Jane honed her macro-economic forecasting skills at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.  Jane is a qualified scarfie, attending Otago University and graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce in Economics with 1st class honours.  In 2014, she took a career break from ASB to travel the world and learn to snowboard.

Mark Smith

Senior Economist

Mark joined ASB in 2017, with over 20 years of public and private sector experience working as an economist in New Zealand and the UK.

His resume includes lengthy stints at ANZ and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, and he has also worked at the Bank of England, HM Treasury and the New Zealand Transport Agency. Mark's areas of specialisation include interest rate strategy, macro-economic analysis and urban economics.

Born and bred in the Waikato, Mark studied at Waikato University where he graduated with a Master of Social Sciences, majoring in Economics.

Mark's key strengths are the ability to use his extensive experience, inquisitive nature, analytical ability, creativity and pragmatism to dig a little deeper and to deliver common sense solutions to tackle complex problems.

When not at work Mark likes to travel, keep fit and spend time with his friends and family.

Mike Jones

Senior Economist

Mike joined ASB in 2019 armed with almost 15 years of experience in applied macroeconomic and financial markets analysis.

Mike's career has been all about distilling the risks and opportunities of economic and financial market trends for business. Basically asking the "what does it all mean" question. Mike's enthusiasm and skill for drawing out practical, commercial insights from the murky world of economics has been honed over a relatively broad base of experience.

After spending the early part of his career on the tools at the Reserve Banks of both NZ and Australia, Mike had a lengthy stint at BNZ where he was NZ’s top-ranked currency strategist. His regular and topical macro research also saw him pick up several FX forecast accuracy gongs from Bloomberg.

Drawn in by the prospect of putting strategy into practice, Mike moved from Wellington to Auckland in 2013 to join Fonterra as GM Treasury Risk Management. In this role, Mike lead Fonterra’s macroeconomic research output, and was responsible for the strategy and execution of Fonterra’s foreign exchange, debt, and interest rate hedging programmes.