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The Reserve Bank has doubled staff numbers in five years to 510, with personnel costs rising to $80 million in 2023 from $32 million in 2018 - up by a whopping 150%. I guess when you print $50 billion and flood markets with liquidity, causing runaway inflation that now requires the Bank to "engineer a recession" (in the words of the RBNZ Governor) to get it down, there's always spare cash floating about to spend on your own employees. Last year the Australian Financial Review said, "The latest data from across the ditch suggests NZ is the first advanced economy to enter into a bona fide stagflationary recession. Now its got worse - a double dip recession. Funnily enough, our Governor told Bloomberg News in 2021 it would never happen: "The fear of the 70s, the 80s, stagflation", he said, "it is such a different world”.  It's so different that for those with a long memory, it feels just like the 70s.

The upside of the 510 people working at the RBNZ now may be that one of them is at last able to produce some decent research on hot topics, like the effect of immigration on inflation. That, of course, assumes the extra staff hired were economists. No such luck. Instead the Reserve Bank's latest report on immigration was not even written by anyone at the Bank - it was sub-contracted out to consultants!?

The report itself is mostly a literature summary - but why hire an expensive consulting firm to go through some past economics papers on this topic? Can't the RBNZ staffers read it for themselves? What did the consultants find out? According to the RBNZ they "outline how migration can add to or reduce inflationary pressures depending on the size & direction of flows & the characteristics of migrants". Oh great - so immigration can increase or decrease inflation, meaning they don't have much of a clue what is its overall effect. We already knew that in the first place, because immigrants - wait for it - buy more stuff, adding to demand & inflation, but also, to the extent they get jobs, supply more stuff, which reduces inflation.

What did the Bank pay for that amazing insight that is not news to anyone? Who knows? The only thing we do know is that it is your money - and that not everyone in Wellington is anxious about cuts.


Waikato University features PM Ardern as a "success story" on its website as follows:



  • Bachelor of Communication Studies


  • Public Relations

The University also states, "Waikato's Bachelor of Communication offers a choice of five subject majors in Applied Digital Communication, Creative Media, Public Relations, Marketing, and Media Production". My understanding is that you may be able to pick up the odd paper in another subject, like Political Science, but that in no way remotely forms the focus of your studies. Sometimes people call such a subject a "minor". So it looks like Ardern majored in Public Relations, since Political Science is not offered as a major when you do a Bachelor of Communication. Which brings me to how Ardern's qualifications were described when she spoke at Bologna University this week:

The Beehive Website also puts "Politics" first in Ardern's Bio, saying her Bachelor of Communication Studies was in "Politics & Public Relations". However Waikato University states she completed a Bachelor in Communication in "Public Relations & Political Science". In University circles like mine this wording is no small thing. It matters a lot. By putting "Politics" first, it infers you majored in politics. If you did a Bachelor of Commerce in marketing, for example, and then applied for jobs, saying you had studied "Economics & Marketing" when you had just done one first year paper in economics, then folks like me would get revved up. Why? Since you'd be giving the wrong impression about what you did to employers. Could Ardern be emphasizing political science and de-emphasizing PR, even though the latter is what her studies were primarily about? Could it be good PR to downplay PR? Ardern should clarify exactly what papers she studied & whether Political Science was indeed her major, since that's the impression given by the Beehive and her Bio as described on Bologna University's website (speaker bios are usually supplied by the speaker).


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Robert MacCulloch

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