The corporate media lines up to celebrate the 'good news' on the New Zealand economy.

BACK IN THE DAYS OF VINYL records, small record companies released budget priced compilation albums of 'sound-alike' songs - songs that closely resembled the originals but were anything but.
 National's David Farrar explains Labour's poll results to Duncan Garner.
In the UK, no less than the Woolworths supermarket chain hired sound-alike artists to record cheap alternative versions of the hit songs of the day.

As I listened last week to another commentator droning on about the 'outstanding growth' in the New Zealand economy- an apparent 3.6 per cent in the June year - it occurred to me that we aren't actually living in a 'rock star economy' but a "sound-alike economy'. With an apparent growth rate of 3.6% it sounds like we've never had it so good. Only when you drill down into the figures that you quickly discover you've been sold a cheap imitation of a sound and healthy economy.

That's the point that no less than the Westpac Bank made, but in more circumspect terms. Westpac is certainly not an institution promoting alternatives to the neoliberal narrative but even it felt it had to explain that if you take out the population growth rate - some 2.1% in the year to June - then the estimated growth rate is only 0.6%.

It was the opposite view to that of the BNZ which boasted that New Zealand's annual growth reading compared "favourably with those of the world's economic powerhouses".

It was the view of the BNZ that the corporate media were more inclined to believe.

The NZ Herald described the New Zealand economy as having "one of the strongest growth rates in the developed world.' Catherine Beard, executive director of ManufacturingNZ, backed up the newspapers rosy view with a opinion column that would of delighted John Key and his chums.

"New Zealand's positive growth story continues - GDP figures this week show the economy growing solidly. Even more positive is the role that manufacturing is playing in our good news story." said Beard.

Radio Live and TV3's Duncan Garner also wanted to spread the good news, even linking Labour's low polling to the Government's "successful' management of the economy. Just to rub it in a bit more, he later invited National's chief spin doctor, David Farrar, on to his show to explain what Labour's low poll result really meant.

Also on Radio Live last week both Chris Trotter and Rodney Hide could be heard agreeing with co-host Willie Jackson that the Government could be 'pleased' with the GDP figures. It was left to Ali Mau, although she did not dispute the numbers themselves, to suggest that maybe the benefits of an improved GDP hadn't trickled down to the majority of folk.

Predictably Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking was quick to announce that the GDP figure was "good news" for the economy and showed that the government was in "a good place".

But less than a fortnight ago the Ministry of Social Development released data on household incomes that indicated that New Zealand's level of economic inequality continues to widen.

UNICEF New Zealand Executive Director Vivien Maidaborn responded: "The over-representation of children continuing to live in real material hardship in our country is appalling and we see no real improvement since the 2014 report. Taking into account housing costs, the inequality in New Zealand household income is increasing."

Clearly Ms Maidaborn hasn't been listening to Duncan Garner explain how the Government is "successfully' managing the economy.


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