Many factors in manufacuring malaise

Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler says the decline in manufacturing is much more than an exchange rate story.

In a speech to the New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association in Auckland, Graeme Wheeler said factors such as globalisation, outsourcing and international supply chains, along with competition of low cost producers and rising global demand for services meant that the relative importance of manufacturing had been declining in all but the poorest countries for the past 40 years. New Zealand was no exception.

Mr Wheeler acknowledged the New Zealand dollar was significantly overvalued in terms of economic fundamentals, and this was a headwind for some in the manufacturing sector. But he said there are no simple solutions available to the Reserve Bank.

“Some of the strength in our real exchange rate is due to global financial imbalances and the weakness of the US dollar in particular.”

Near-zero interest rates and quantitative easing by other central banks have pushed up currencies like the New Zealand dollar, and domestically, New Zealand’s poor savings record is also to blame. . .

There’s little we can do about globalisation, outsourcing and international supply chains, competition from low cost producers and rising global demand for services.

But improving our savings record is entirely in our own hands.

That probably won’t have much impact on manufacturing because it won’t counter all the other factors which are making it difficult, but it would be much better for us as individuals and for the economy.

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