Moody’s – New Zealand’s economic growth supports Aaa rating

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MIL OSI – Source: Moody’s

Headline: Announcement: Moody’s – New Zealand’s economic growth supports Aaa rating

Global Credit Research – 05 Mar 2015

New York, March 05, 2015 — Moody’s Investors Service says that New Zealand’s economy is growing strongly, despite a steep fall in dairy prices during 2014. Construction, partly in relation to the rebuilding of Christchurch after the 2011 earthquakes, and also in the Auckland housing market, has been an important contributor to growth.

As a result, Moody’s expects New Zealand’s real GDP to rise to close to 3% during 2015 and to remain robust through 2016.

Moody’s says New Zealand’s strong economic profile is reinforcing government finances, with a return to budget surpluses expected in the 2015-16 fiscal year and thereafter.

As for the stable outlook for New Zealand’s Aaa rating, Moody’s says the outlook reflects the fact that the country’s ratio of government debt to GDP has peaked at a level well below the median for Aaa sovereigns and is likely to fall over the next several years.

Moody’s conclusions were contained in its just-released credit analysis, titled “New Zealand” and which examines the sovereign in four categories: economic strength, which is assessed as “very high (-)”; institutional strength “very high (+)”; fiscal strength “very high (+)”; and susceptibility to event risk “low (-)”.

The report constitutes an annual update to investors and is not a rating action.

Moody’s report says that when compared to other similarly rated sovereign issuers, New Zealand’s economy has demonstrated a track record of faster and more stable growth, which counterbalances its economic weaknesses, namely the small size, high concentration and relatively low income levels in comparison to other Aaa-rated sovereigns.

New Zealand’s economy also benefits from stable growth in aggregate labor input and strong private investment. As a result, the country has seen consistently high GDP growth rates over the past two decades, ranking third in terms of average GDP growth in its rating category.

On the other hand, Moody’s report also points out that New Zealand’s most important vulnerability is its structural current account deficit, which has been large for several decades. This deficit makes the country highly dependent on international capital markets.

The government’s projections indicate that the current account deficit will rise from its recent relatively low level to a high level once again during the coming few years. Part of the increase will be mitigated by reinsurance payments resulting from payouts related to earthquake reconstruction. The net international investment position will therefore not deteriorate to the extent indicated by the current account deficit.

On private consumption growth rates, Moody’s report says that after gaining momentum in recent years, growth in consumer demand will likely come under pressure in the short run, as the country’s external position and currency weaken.

Household consumption has on average contributed 170 basis points to quarterly year-over-year growth since 2010, slightly exceeding the contribution of gross capital formation and making it the primary growth driver during the period.

Moody’s new report notes that New Zealand’s banking sector is among the most resilient in the world. The sector is characterized by high concentration, with the four largest banks accounting for 84% of total loans and 91% of deposits.

Despite moderate competitive pressures, the banks have not drifted toward riskier business models and were able to maintain sound loan portfolios even in the wake of the global financial crisis in 2008-09 and the Christchurch earthquakes.

While less capitalized than the banking systems of several other Aaa-rated sovereigns, New Zealand banks’ capitalization ratios are broadly commensurate with the low riskiness of their loan portfolios. In addition, the banking system demonstrates some of the highest profitability levels in its peer group, minimizing the likelihood of capital erosion in the near-term.

Subscribers can access the report at

https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_179413

This publication does not announce a credit rating action. For any credit ratings referenced in this publication, please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for the most updated credit rating action information and rating history.

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Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues.
Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia’s FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand’s The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.

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