Mixed Mood of the Boardroom but “too many committees”

Not surprisingly there are mixed responses on NZ Herald’s annual ‘Mood of the Boardroom’ survey. a majority thing that the Government  has worked to their expectations (that is not necessarily positive), and NZ First have been a moderating influence on union moves.

  • 59% said the Coalition had worked to their expectations
  • 23% said worse than expected
  • 15% said better than expected

The significance of that depends on what expectations where.

NZH Mood of the Boardroom: 150 CEOs deliver their verdict on the Government

Unsurprisingly, the survey of 150 chief executives confirmed business confidence one year into the Coalition Government is wobbly, and in some policy areas, struggling to stay on its feet, but there were contradictions aplenty in their responses.

While some expected the influence of NZ First and Winston Peters to be problematic, others saw NZ First as a potentially moderating influence when it came to acknowledging the harmful impact on business confidence from union-led law reforms.

It is like that a Labour-Green only government would have been much more compliant to union demands.

But generally, CEOs were united in citing the Coalition’s lack of experience, “too many committees and not enough action” and unclear agenda.

A challenge for Ardern is to be much clearer on specifics of her Government’s agenda rather than making grand but vague proclamations.

The survey confirmed one overarching contradiction: the economy is showing the highest level of quarterly growth seen in the past two years but business confidence is sinking.

The chief concern of CEOs was uncertainty – “general uncertainty about the impact and direction of current Government policies”.

The rest of the top five ranking factors also pointed to uncertainty: skills and labour shortages, regulation, employment law changes and transport infrastructure.

The uncertainty is fixable, but it could take some time for all the working groups and inquiries and committees to report back, and more time still for the Government to then decide what to do in response. This may take some negotiating between Labour, NZ First and the Greens.

For CEOs the single biggest factor that would assist their business remain internationally competitive from New Zealand, at 23.5 per cent, was Government/council policy.

Skills and talent was next at 22.6 per cent and specific Government/council policy third at 14.8 per cent.

That said, the Coalition’s “oil and gas ban” provoked a strong response from chief executives, with some 77 per cent of respondents agreeing the Government should have waited until the Productivity Commission set its path to a low emissions future and taken that advice on board first.

The Government rushed some decisions to give the appearance they were on the ball, and have since had to adjust their approach.

Recognised was the Coalition’s “pragmatic” response to international trade, where it had surprised by devising an early fix and signing up to the new CPTPP.

That was a good surprise for business interests, and complained about bitterly by trade and globalisation opponents on the far left.

If the Government learns from it’s mistakes and gets their act together in making decisions and progress then the boardrooms and business sector may improve their outlook, but the longer key decisions take the more chance that festering uncertainty can become a real problem for the economy.



CEO’s rate ministers and party leaders

In the NZH ‘mood of the boardroom election survey’ CEO’s rate the performance of ministers and party leaders.

On a 1-5 scale where 1 = not impressive and 5 = very impressive:

  • Prime Minister Bill English: 4.13
  • Finance Minister Steven Joyce: 3.71
  • Education Minister Nikki Kaye: 3.62
  • Minister of Justice Amy Adams: 3.58
  • Paula Bennett: 3.56
  • Chris Finlayson: 3.49
  • Simon Bridges: 3.18
  • Anne Tolley: 3.11
  • Todd McClay: 3.05

I can’t find a rating for Jacinda Ardern. Odd.

Other party leaders:

  • David Seymour (ACT): 2.85
  • Winston Peters (NZ First): 2.76

Winston won’t like that.

The other leaders: James Shaw (Greens), Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox (Maori Party), Gareth Morgan (The Opportunities Party) and Peter Dunne (United Future, who bowed out before the survey was completed) all rated at less than 2.5/5.

From A strong mood for change among business leaders



Boardroom moody about National

NZH’s ‘mood of the boardroom suggests a moodiness about National’s performance in government and their prospects of surviving.

From  A strong mood for change among business leaders

That’s quite a misleading headline, unless you read it as a mood for change from either a national or Labour led government.

With less than a fortnight to run before final polls close, chief executives remain divided on whether to “call time” on the third term National Government.

“I think the National Government has been a very credible and stable manager that deserves respect for its approach in managing the country,” said a tourism boss. “However, it is arguable that they have come late to issues such as water management, local infrastructure and transport investment with a piecemeal, below par approach.

“They need to get ahead of these issues and signal a strong intent as these are real issues that affect voters.”

There is a clear perception that the National Government – driven by its own fiscal focus – left it too late to make major investments in housing and infrastructure to underpin the massive uptick in immigration numbers in recent years.

ICBC chairman and former Reserve Bank Governor Don Brash said the Government has failed to adopt policies designed to increase per capita growth, and many of the other problems (increasing wealth inequality, poverty and homelessness) are a direct result of the Government’s failure to deal with the unaffordability of housing.

Fair comment, but that’s Don Brash.

Vector director and former Deloitte Chairman of the Year, Dame Alison Paterson said Government action on some important issues had been slow. “On the other hand, it takes time to turn a super-tanker… and the tolerance for change in the population is slow.”

If National was to get a fourth term it needed to abandon its “steady as she goes” approach and be more aspirational in its approach to the big ticket items including water, climate, homelessness and poverty.

National have belatedly address some of that under pressure from Labour’s resurgence. Their complacency may mean boardrooms and voters in general may think they left it too late.

An oddly unbalanced topic:

CEOs were split on who they thought would make the best Opposition leader if National should lose the election – which is a clear possibility on its current poll ratings.

Some 27 per cent thought Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett had the right attributes to make the most vigorous leader; others opted for Steven Joyce (20 per cent) and Judith Collins (17 per cent).

No mention of what CEO’s thought might happen to Labour’s leadership if they lose the election. Or NZ Firsts, or Greens.

Labour policies under examination

Some of Labour’s policies, and lack of clarity on some, are being examined by media.

Newstalk ZB:  Labour’s plan to ban foreigners buyers violates free trade agreement

A warning Labour’s plans to ban the sale of property to foreign investors could put our trade agreements in jeopardy.

The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research said under the trade agreement we have with Korea and China, it’s not possible to ban foreigners buying homes here.

Deputy Chief Executive John Ballingall said it would be a breech of our free trade agreement obligations.

“This creates a bit of a challenge, unless Labour is suggesting that they are going to renegotiate some of these agreements to allow us to impose such a ban, which seems unlikely, then it seems a very difficult policy to try and implement.”

1 News: ‘It clearly is damaging’ – 1 NEWS’ Corin Dann on the growing criticism of Labour’s uncertain tax plans

The New Zealand First leader has called for Labour to release all its tax policy ahead of the election and not hide behind a tax expert committee which Labour intends to commission.

Labour says it will not commit to all their tax policy before this committee has properly investigated and reported back.

“It clearly is damaging, and it’s not helpful to have Winston Peters jumping on board, echoing National’s criticisms,” Dann said.

Labour aren’t defending their position: ‘We’ve put it all out there’ – Jacinda Ardern defiant over Winston Peters’ calls to reveal tax plan

But many will see through the “put it all out there” when Ardern keeps saying ‘wait until we hear what the tax experts tell us’.

Pluses and minuses with a misleading headline from NZH: A strong mood for change among business leaders

There is a strong mood for change among the 118 respondents to the Herald‘s Mood of the Boardroom Election Survey.

Some 88 per cent see Ardern as the lightning rod which could catapult Labour to power at the September 23 election. But their appetite for regime change is tempered by Labour’s failure to be upfront about its intentions on major polices affecting business, like capital gains.

With less than a fortnight to run before final polls close, chief executives remain divided on whether to “call time” on the third term National Government.

That doesn’t sound like a strong mood for change.

“Labour’s got to seriously think about some of the policy that they are bringing to the table,” said Mainfreight group managing director Don Braid. “As long as that’s not thought up on the fly and has had some decent thought behind it before they release it, then she’s definitely got this current Government on the run in my view.”

Ardern does seem to have National on the run – and also the greens and NZ First. But now more attention is being put on her policy positions that may temper the excitement.

But Ardern’s propensity to make “Captain’s calls” on important matters like capital gains taxes are a major negative. “Now is not a time for experimenting with a Labour Party coalition whose policies are unchanged and its leadership has devolved on a doctrinaire and inexperienced political activist with no real world experience,” said a law firm boss.

Tax and the economy will be key deciders in this election, and many voters will be still considering and deciding.

Mood of the boardroom 2016

The annual ‘Mood of the Boardroom’ survey gets extensive coverage today in NZ Herald, with Leaders show more optimism looking like the lead article (I’ve just heard a pessimistic sounding Andrew Little on Breakfast).

Strong GDP growth in the past two quarters has put New Zealand near the top of the OECD pack for annual economic growth, but the good data has been tempered by concerns about growing inequality as house prices continue to soar.

Global worries also continue to undercut the optimism as nervous sharemarket investors brace for a lift in United States interest rates.

It’s an economic outlook broadly reflected in the results of the Mood of the Boardroom survey.

On the local front there is some serious optimism breaking out and that can’t be a bad thing.

Last year’s gloomier Mood of the Boardroom outlook results came as we were bracing ourselves for a dairy downturn.

There was some real concern about how the fragile economy would cope.

But with a bit of a nudge from record immigration levels, we’ve managed to keep growing through the worst of it.

Liam Dann concludes:

In the end, despite increased concern about social issues such as housing, the Government can still feel comfortable about its support base among senior business leadership.

An overwhelming majority agree the Government’s current economic management is good.

Judged on the economic environment in which most companies are doing their business this year, it is not hard to see why.


Boardroom advice to Government, English and Robertson

Grant Robertson has tweeted this so I’m not sure where it is from but I presume NZ Herald.


Robertson used a tag. The Herald uses    except there seems to be nothing new on that yet.

A site search finds all their ‘mood of the boardroom’ articles: