1 May 2012

Export-led recovery not happening - economist

7:44 am on 1 May 2012

An economist says there is little evidence of an export-led recovery in New Zealand.

The monthly National Bank Business Confidence survey found optimists outnumbered pessimists, however sentiment in the agriculture sector slumped as commodity prices fell and the New Zealand dollar remained high.

Most optimism was expressed by the retail sector which recorded a 23 month high.

National Bank chief economist Cameron Bagrie suspects that is related to improved sentiment flowing from the housing market into the broader economy.

Strong growth signals are also appearing other "spending-centric" sectors, construction and retailing, and Mr Bagrie says there's a limit to New Zealand's ability to borrow and spend its way to growth.

"If you go back, big picture, three years after we've had a global financial crisis, we've had record high commodity prices, good dairy production in the coming season and New Zealand still has a current account deficit of 4% of GDP."

He says that is an unsustainable position, and while growth in any sector is a good thing, New Zealand's long-term economic future rests with exporting sectors and agriculture and manufacturing both expressed falling confidence.