29 Apr 2013

Foreign investment good for NZ - report

7:18 am on 29 April 2013

A report produced for public policy think tank the New Zealand Initiative says foreign investment is good for the country.

The think tank is supported by chief executives of major New Zealand businesses.

In the report, Dr Bryce Wilkinson, who holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Canterbury, says New Zealand's overall level of indebtedness to foreigners is not the major risk some people claim.

He says the dominant factor contributing to debt is borrowing by New Zealand's banks.

Dr Wilkinson says the banks, mainly Australian owned, are sophisticated borrowers and those lending are sophisticated lenders.

He says that situation has persisted for two decades, through many banking shocks, during which time borrowers and lenders have shown themselves to be quite comfortable with risk.

Dr Wilkinson disputes the view that New Zealand's negative net international investment position is due to banks borrowing from overseas institutions to fund mortgage lending.

He says when a buyer takes out a mortage to fund a purchase the seller immediately returns the proceeds to the banking system, so there is no need for overseas borrowing, and no change in the net international investment position.