Privatizing local bus services could save $5.7 billion

https://twitter.com/FurchtgottRoth/status/717362503160881152

650m of the world’s poorest are without access to good drinking water

image

Image

@GarethMP @jamespeshaw need message discipline on @NZGreens as honest brokers

Yesterday morning, Green MP Gareth Hughes posted a British Greens’ video about how other politicians are a bunch of squabbling children but the Greens are above that. It’s only the Greens who offer a “true alternative to the establishment parties” and their “same childish Punch & Judy politics”.

Later that same day Greens co-leader James Shaw posted a video that shaded the truth about the history of dividends from Kiwibank as a way of scoring points of the National Party led government.

Shaw claimed that the government is extracting more and more dividends from Kiwibank rather than letting it keep those profits as capital on which the government owned bank can be a more aggressive competitor.

image

Source: Kiwibank pays its first dividend of $21 million to Government | Stuff.co.nz.

Shaw is vaguely correct in that it is dividends plural when referring to Kiwibank’s dividends. Kiwibank paid dividends of $21 million last year; and $750,000 the year before. Kiwibank has paid two dividends to New Zealand Post in its entire history since 2002.

It shades the truth to say that the government is extracting more and more dividends from Kiwibank when when it has only paid one dividend worth mentioning, which was last year.

image

Source: New Zealand Treasury – data released under the Official Information Act.

As for James Shaw’s claim that the entry of Kiwibank made banking in New Zealand much more competitive, Michael Reddell disposed of that by linking to a 2013 Treasury assessment of competition in retail banking.

image

image

Source: New Zealand Treasury Official Information Act Releases.

There are no excess profits in the New Zealand banking market for Kiwibank to undercut. Entry barriers are low, banking products are easy substitutes for each other between the competing banks, and the banks compete for market share by advertising  of, for example, special packages to switch banks.

Adding to the analysis of the Treasury, Posner and Easterbrook suggest that these industry behaviours together are suspicious.

  1. Fixed relative market shares among top firms over time.
  2. Declining absolute market shares of the industry leaders.
  3. Persistent price discrimination.
  4. Certain types of exchanges of price information.
  5. Regional price variations.
  6. Identical sealed bids for tenders.
  7. Price, output, and capacity changes at the time of the suspected initiation of collusion.
  8. Industry-wide resale price maintenance or non-price vertical restraints.
  9. Relatively infrequent price changes; smaller price reactions as a result of known cost changes.
  10. Demand is highly responsive to price changes at market price.
  11. Level and pattern of profits relatively favourable to smaller firms.
  12. Particular pricing and marketing strategies.

As the Treasury noted in its analysis, there are several small banks offering competitive rates that would allow them to expand if they offered value for money over the existing offerings. Returns on equity of the big banks are not discernibly higher than for the smaller ones.

To add again to the Treasury analysis, it is not easy to organize a cartel. There are markets to divide, prices to set, and production quotas to assign. The best place to be in a cartel is outside of it undercutting the higher price and selling as much as you can before the cartel inevitably collapses. Brozen and Posner suggest the following pre-conditions to collusion:

  • market concentration on the supply side;
  • no fringe of small sellers;
  • high transport costs from neighbouring markets;
  • small variations in production costs between firms;
  • readily available information on prices;
  • inelastic demand at the competitive price;
  • low pre-collusion industry profits;
  • long lags on new entry;
  • many buyers (otherwise selective discounting to big buyers will be too tempting while monitoring adherence to the agreement will be difficult);
  • no significant product differentiation;
  • large suppliers selling at the same level in the distribution chain;
  • a simple price, credit and distribution structure;
  • price competition is more important than other forms of competition;
  • demand is static or declining over time; and
  • stagnant technological innovation and product redesign.

Stable collusive arrangements are thus likely to be rare because the absence of any of the above conditions will tend to undermine the potential for successful collusion.

Successful cartel operation is even harder than its initial formation. Members of the cartel must continue to believe that they enjoy net profits from participating in the collusion.

The more profitable the collusive price fixing, the greater the incentive for outsiders to seek entry to compete. In cartel theory, these new entrants are known as interlopers.

image

The more numerous the participants in the cartel and the more lucrative the collusion, the greater the temptation for individual members to cheat and the greater the fear of each that some other member will cheat first.

Cartel members that cheat early profit the most from the cartel price before it collapses. That is why the history of cartels is a history of double-crossing. Long-term survival of the cartel has two fundamental requirements:

  1. cheating by a member on the cartel prices, outputs and market shares must be detectable; and

  2. detected cheating must be adequately punishable without breaking-up of the cartel.

If banking was a cartel, you would not see advertising on the TV every night inducing customers to switch but you do. That advertising is cheating on the banking cartel the New Zealand Greens want to break up.

There is an infallible rule in competition law enforcement. It arises mostly crisply in merger law enforcement. If competitors oppose a merger, the merger must be pro-consumer. If the merger is anti-competitive, that merger will increase prices. The competing firms can follow those prices up and profit from the weakening of competition subsequent to the merger.

Will @JulieAnneGenter’s KiwiBank plan bankrupt KiwiPost? @JordNZ

The Greens are followed up on an earlier suggestion by Julie Anne Genter, the Green’s Shadow Minister of Finance, that KiwiBank should be refocused to keeping interest rates low. To that end, it would not be required to pay dividends to the government to help fund the effort. KiwiBank has only just started paying dividends to its parent, KiwiPost.

If that were to be the case, that KiwiBank was no longer be required to pay dividends, that would blow quite a hole in the balance sheet of its parent company KiwiPost.

KiwiPost owns the share capital of KiwiBank, which must be valued on a commercial basis to pass auditing as a state owned enterprise which is commercially orientated.

image

Source: Historic $21 million dividend paid by state owned bank Kiwibank | interest.co.nz.

That share capital owned by KiwiPost in KiwiBank would be have to be written off if KiwiBank were to pay no further dividends because it is no longer commercially orientated entity. Such a write-off of its investment in KiwiBank would write off most of Kiwi Post’s equity capital.

image

Source: Some 14 years after it launched and nearly NZ$830 mln later, Kiwibank predicted to become a self sustaining dividend payer in 2016 | interest.co.nz.

The reason why state owned enterprises are required to be valued on commercial principles is to ensure that any subsidies or other favours sought by politicians show up in the profit and loss statement or the balance sheet through asset write-offs. Section 7 of the State-Owned Enterprises Act 1986  non-commercial activities states that:

Where the Crown wishes a State enterprise to provide goods or services to any persons, the Crown and the State enterprise shall enter into an agreement under which the State enterprise will provide the goods or services in return for the payment by the Crown of the whole or part of the price thereof.

This statutory safeguard ensures that the cost of any policies proposed by ministers, and the Greens are very keen on transparency and independent costing of political promises, are plain to all.

@NZGreens expand KiwiBank into wrong market to cut mortgage rates @JulieAnneGenter

The Greens want to cut mortgage rates by having KiwiBank expand in business lending. Wrong market.

This expansion into a market that is not the mortgage market is to be underwritten by a capital injection as the Greens explain:

    1. Inject a further $100 million of capital in KiwiBank to speed its expansion into commercial banking;
    2. Allow KiwiBank to keep more of its profits to help it grow faster; and,
    3. Give KiwiBank a clear public purpose to lead the market in passing on interest rate cuts.

Note well that the $100 million capital injection is to expand in to commercial banking. More aggressive passing on of interest rate cuts may jeopardise credit ratings if this lowers the profitability of KiwiBank. KiwiBank has an A- rating

The bigger hole in the policy is the more aggressive mortgage rate setting by KiwiBank will be done by keeping more of its profits and paying fewer dividends to its parent company Kiwi Post and through that to the taxpayer. There are next to no dividends currently to stop distributing to fund a more aggressive mortgage rate setting policy.

image

Source: KiwiBank pays its first dividend of $21 million to Government | Stuff.co.nz.

KiwiBank paid its first dividend last year. Prior to that, the bank kept all profits to allow it to expand its lending base. $20 million in foregone dividends does not go far given the actual size of all  lending markets in New Zealand.

image

Source: G1 Summary information for locally incorporated banks – Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

KiwiBank is minnow in the mortgage market and a pimple in commercial lending. Rapid business expansion is risky in any market, much less in banking.

The government has declined further capital injections so profits were retained to meet capital adequacy ratios. The government in 2010 earmarked NZ$300 million for an uncalled capital facility for NZ Post to help maintain its credit rating and KiwiBank’s growth.

Saving the best for last, KiwiBank last year announced plans to borrow up to $150 million through an issue of BB- perpetual capital notes to be used to bolster the bank’s regulatory capital position.

The Margin for the Perpetual Capital Notes has been set at 3.65% per annum and the interest rate will be 7.25% per annum for the first five years until the first reset date of 27 May 2020. Kiwi Capital Funding Limited is not guaranteed by KiwiBank, New Zealand Post nor the New Zealand Government.

The Perpetual Capital Notes have a BB- credit rating compared to KiwiBank which has an A- rating. These capital notes were issued in addition to prior subordinate debt in the form of CHF175 million (about NZ$233 million) worth of 5-year bonds.

I doubt that KiwiBank can raise capital through subordinated debt under normal commercial conditions if it does not plan to seek profits in the same way as other commercial banks do. The current issue of Perpetual Capital Notes are already rated as junk bonds:

An issue of $150 million of perpetual capital notes from KiwiBank with a speculative, or "junk", credit rating have been priced at the bottom of their indicative margin range.

The closest the prospectus for these Perpetual Capital Notes got to complementing KiwiBank changing from a normal business to being a public good is the following risk statement:

Kiwibank’s banking activities are subject to extensive regulation, mainly relating to capital, liquidity levels, solvency and provisioning.

Its business and earnings are also affected by the fiscal or other policies that are adopted by various regulatory authorities of the New Zealand Government.

The interest rate on this subordinate debt will go up to offset the additional risk  of aggressive lending and aggressive expansion, which will cancel out many of the advantages of not having to pay for dividends and the capital injection.

That discipline is one of the  purposes of subordinate debt in the regulatory capital of banks. This is to provide another pair of eyes and ears to watch the performance of the bank and through rising costs of lending and risk ratings, signal trouble of imprudent lending and lack of cost control.

The proposal to use KiwiBank to lower mortgage rates does not add up. KiwiBank does not pay much in the way of dividends to fund such a foray.  KiwiBank is already far more leveraged than any other New Zealand major bank.

image

Source: NZ trading bank leverage | interest.co.nz

New Zealand bank market shares in mortgage and other lending, 2015

image

Source: G1 Summary information for locally incorporated banks – Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

New Zealand Post (incl. Kiwibank) dividends

image

Source: New Zealand Treasury – data released under the Official Information Act.

Profit rates of New Zealand banks, 2015

image

Source: G1 Summary information for locally incorporated banks – Reserve Bank of New Zealand

 ....

Landcorp dividends and capital injections, 2007 – 2015 @dbseymour @JordNZ

As cash cows go, Landcorp has had $2.25 million more in capital injections from taxpayers than it returned to them in dividends since 2007.

image

Source: data released by the New Zealand Treasury under the Official Information Act.

Those $1.5 billion in assets in Landcorp do not appear to be worth a cent in net cash to the long-suffering taxpayer.

image

Source: data released by the New Zealand Treasury under the Official Information Act.

Landcorp is a state-owned enterprise of the New Zealand government. Its core business is pastoral farming including dairy, sheep, beef and deer. In January 2012, Landcorp managed 137 properties carrying 1.5 million stock units on 376,156 hectares of land.

@GarethMP proves the case for privatisation when arguing against privatisation

Green MP Gareth Hughes today nailed the case as to why governments should never run businesses. Too many MPs simply do not understand what dividends represent and what the profits from asset sales represent.

Hughes was reported today saying that taxpayers lost nearly $1 billion in dividends since the recent privatisations of power companies. He is the Green party spokesman on state owned enterprises.

image

Source: Asset sales cost hits $1 billion | Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Does the Green Party understand that an asset sells for a price equal to its risk-adjusted discounted net present value of the stream of dividends. When you sell a financial asset, you cash out the net present value of the stream of dividends that might have come from those assets.

The Greens, who are prissy about government transparency and dishonesty of their opponents, did not mention the $4.7 billion in revenue from the asset sale. Taxpayers now receiving more in dividends as a part owner of the privatised power companies than they did as a full owner.

Hughes had the cheek to complain about the politicisation of those privatisations such as favourable terms for small share buyers. That inability of governments to even sell an asset competently is a strong reason why governments should never run businesses in the first place.

If an asset cannot be sold in the full light of day –  a major issue in an election campaign and a referendum – without the sale price that is politicised, what is the chance of good management of any state-owned enterprise when it is not the central focus of opposition scrutiny?

It is been many years since dividends from the state-owned enterprise portfolio has been a net positive cash flow for the taxpayer, as the chart below shows.

image

Source: New Zealand Treasury – data released under the Official Information Act.

KiwiRail and Solid Energy gobbled up whatever dividends came out of the power companies. Aside from power companies, state-owned enterprises not really offer much in the way of dividends to the taxpayer as the chart again shows.

Previous Older Entries

COVID-19 Law

A collection of Australian legal resources relating to the coronavirus pandemic

Mostly Economics

This blog covers research work in Economics with focus on India.

Map Dragons

Written by map lovers for map lovers

Wrong Hands

Cartoons by John Atkinson. ©John Atkinson, Wrong Hands

New Historical Express

(Formerly Hatful of History)

FondOfBeetles

a developmental biologist in a gendered world

Overcoming Bias

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

CONVERSABLE ECONOMIST

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Barrie Saunders

Thoughts on public policy and the media

The Victorian Commons

Researching the House of Commons, 1832-1868

Coyote Blog

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Overlawyered

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

American Enterprise Institute – AEI

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

The History of Parliament

Blogging on parliament, politics and people, from the History of Parliament

Catallaxy Files

Australia's leading libertarian and centre-right blog

Climate Audit

by Steve McIntyre

StephenFranks.co.nz

A New Zealand lawyer, ex-MP, farmer and enthusiast for life opines on law, politics and the universe

Books & Boots

reflections on books and art

Legal History Miscellany

Posts on the History of Law, Crime, and Justice

Sex, Drugs and Economics

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

The Long Run

the EHS blog

The Undercover Historian

Beatrice Cherrier's blog

Vincent Geloso

Economics, History, Lots of Data and French Stuff

Climatism

Tracking Anthropogenic Climate Alarmism

Science Matters

Reading between the lines, and underneath the hype.

Point of Order

Politics and the economy

FREEcology

Libertarian environmentalism

Doc's Books

A window into Doc Freiberger's library

Newmark's Door

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Media Myth Alert

Calling out media myths

Uneasy Money

Commentary on monetary policy in the spirit of R. G. Hawtrey

European Royal History

Exploring the History of European Royalty

Tallbloke's Talkshop

Cutting edge science you can dice with

Marginal REVOLUTION

Small Steps Toward A Much Better World

The Risk-Monger

Let's examine hard decisions!

NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT

“We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it, that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. We know that in secrecy error undetected will flourish and subvert”. - J Robert Oppenheimer.

%d bloggers like this: