Friday, March 14, 2014

An economic upgrade?

David Cunliffe presented the broad strokes of his economic policy today, under the slogan of an "economic upgrade". Much of it was stuff we'd heard before: capital gains tax, universal kiwisaver, R&D tax credits, better monetary policy. But there's also a strong focus on regional development, industrial policy, and direct government intervention. It still needs to be fleshed out, but its not a bad start. Because one thing is clear: we need to move our economy away from a focus on milk. Our environment can't sustain it, and its not delivering for anyone other than a narrow class of wealthy farmers. As research from the New Zealand Institute has shown, rich economies have multiple sources of income. And they consciously develop them through industrial policy. And the Ministry for Economic Development (back before it became MoBIE) agreed; back in 2009 they were recommending that the government support IT and high-tech manufacturing to overcome its capital deficit by taking direct stakes in promising companies. It will be interesting to see whether Labour is willing to go this far, or whether they'll compromise their proposed economic transformation by soft-peddling it to the business community.