Dump those rental properties now
In two years, John Key will be looking for a new career and Judith Collins will be opposition leader.
Amy Adams or Simon Bridges will be her new-generation deputy.
In the Beehive, David Shearer will be setting up New Zealand’s most left-wing government since 1975 in partnership with Russel Norman.
This outcome has been almost inevitable since Steven Joyce discouraged campaigning against MMP in 2011, fearing it could risk National’s win.
His short-term calculation was almost certainly right, with National squeaking in by fewer than 10,000 votes, being re-elected only because of a big boost to its Christchurch vote.
Holding that edge, absent strong economic growth, was always unlikely.
Now, Mr Shearer’s decisive action against spoiler David Cunliffe, and his uncosted but attention-grabbing KiwiBuild policy, have made him the overwhelming favourite.
According to the polls, Labour and the Greens have picked up more than 185,000 new votes since the election (see table) and probably more, with polls historically over-estimating National’s support and under-estimating Labour’s.
Unless Winston Peters wins back some left-leaning voters and then supports National, Mr Key is toast.
Changes to monetary policy and the housing market will be at the centre of the new government’s policy programme and are inter-related.
The Greens’ lunatic idea of printing money even with interest rates still above zero will obviously not be implemented, but changes to the Reserve Bank Act will be as signalled by Mr Shearer’s finance spokesman, David Parker.
Foremost will be abandoning the bank’s primary focus on price stability to deliver lower official cash rates.
That, along with market fears about the government’s economic credibility, will lead to a lower New Zealand dollar.
Lower floating rates and a lower dollar would normally fuel a housing boom so the bank’s liquidity policy will be tightened to restrict borrowing against residential property.
Property investors will also be subject to the new capital gains tax.
Those measures, combined with the 10,000 KiwiBuild houses each year, should put downward pressure on residential property prices – ironically, creating a long-term fiscal risk for the new government because its new capital gains tax would then fail to raise revenue.
Decisions would need to be made on whether property investors could get tax refunds as prices fell.
Investors concerned about the new government’s policy programme may choose to dump their rental properties now while others might see shares in construction companies as buys.
Across the rest of the economy, inflation would be fuelled by the Christchurch and KiwiBuild construction booms, the inevitable looser fiscal policy under the Labour/Green government, the lower dollar and consequent higher prices for tradables, and lower short-term interest rates.
Inflation might also be fuelled by increasing the minimum wage to $15, although the associated increase in unemployment would mitigate it.
To help low- and fixed-income households deal with inflation, the government may need to look at price controls on milk, bread, meat, vegetables and other essentials.
Price controls on electricity would make it cheaper for the government to buy back Mighty River Power shares, although capping rates would put it offside with its allies in local government.
Tax rises could also dampen consumer demand.
They will be implemented for ideological reasons but also to plug the fiscal hole created by the failure of the capital gains tax, the expansion of paid parental leave, higher student allowances, R&D tax credits, a ban on new mines and deep-sea oil exploration, an increase in spending to clean rivers and parks, and a massive boost to rail.
As well as higher income-tax rates, petrol taxes will be increased and the government may opt for a $25/tonne carbon tax now ETS carbon credits are below $3.
Increasing the age of eligibility for superannuation to 67 and scrapping KiwiSaver subsidies, after making it compulsory, would also help plug the fiscal gap.
It is uncertain whether this economic prescription will be successful but it could be popular.
Labour/Green are also early favourites for 2017.