Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Current account surplus 'first in 20 years'

This from the NZ Herald
New Zealand recorded a seasonally adjusted current account surplus of $340 million in the September quarter - the first such surplus since late 1988.

The article continues
The recession has caused people to tighten their belts and spend less - which means importers spent less overseas on bringing goods into the country.

Publishing the data today, Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) said the change from a deficit to a surplus was mostly due to a narrowing of the investment income deficit. This indicates a drop in profits by companies who have a presence in New Zealand but are owned overseas.
and then the Hearld gets it wrong,
The actual balance of payments was a better than expected deficit of $1.4 billion in the September quarter, compared to the median forecast of economists in a Reuters poll for a deficit of $2.6b.
As the BoP is zero, by definition, I'm not sure what this means and I'm not sure where the $1.4 figure comes from. StatsNZ says that the (unadjusted) current account deficit was $5.7 billion. The NBR reports,
The other factors are on the investment income part of the account.

The largest factor – and it is a huge one – is the tax disputes overseas-owned banks are having with Inland Revenue. Four of those banks have lost cases with the taxman (though they are appealing). In the interim, they brought $1.366 billion to account during the quarter to cover those tax transactions.
May be the $1.4 Herald figure refers to this $1.366 tax figure. Don't know. FinData says
Today Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) revealed a surplus of $340 million in the September quarter compared to a $1.4b deficit in the same quarter last year, beating economists' forecasts.
So may be the $1.4 figure is last year's (seasonally adjusted) deficit. But I think the September 2008 figure was -3,996 million, so I'm not sure where the FinData figure comes from either.

The Herald goes on,
The current account, also known as the balance of payments, measures all of New Zealand's transactions with the outside world.
Err no. The BoP is made up of the current account plus the capital account plus the financial account and the total of these three accounts sums to zero.

The media release from StatsNZ says
New Zealand's current account deficit was $5.7 billion (3.1 percent of GDP) for the year ended September 2009 and the smallest as a percentage of GDP since March 2002, Statistics New Zealand said today. The deficit has fallen from 8.4 percent a year ago, when the current account deficit was $15.4 billion.

Contributing to the smaller deficit in the latest year was the first quarterly seasonally adjusted current account surplus since the December 1988 quarter. The September 2009 quarter surplus was $340 million, compared with a deficit of $4.0 billion for the September 2008 quarter, driven by falls in the investment income deficit and imports of goods. A surplus in the current account means that New Zealand's earnings abroad are greater than its expenditures.
Economic journalism in this country isn't getting better.

No comments: