As New Zealanders we are constantly being told we
don’t save enough.
From International Rating Agencies that downgrade
us, to politicians and to the Reserve Bank Governor, the message is: we are
spending too much on living for today and not enough on providing for our tomorrows.
Saving for retirement and other future needs will without
doubt mean we will better off in the long run. But these savings also benefit
the country – particularly if we invest them productively.
For New Zealand to achieve prosperity and
additional job creation, significant investment is required. Every factory,
plantation/forest, shopping mall or engineering project needs investment
capital to turn it from a bright idea into reality. That capital can come from
two places: New Zealand or overseas (borrowing).
The more we as New Zealanders’ save, the greater
the pool of investment resources to draw from. Of course, not all of our
savings should be invested locally – remember that one of the golden rules of
investment is diversification – but certainly a reasonable proportion invested
at home makes good sense.
As a country our past savings record has been
dismal. For a start, we don’t save enough and, when we do save some money, many
of us tend to put it in the bank rather than where it can work more
productively – for example, investing in the sharemarket.
That’s why around two-thirds of the New Zealand
sharemarket and many of our former state assets are now owned by offshore
investors – investors who were willing to invest where we either didn’t want to
or weren’t able to due to a lack of savings!
As I said before, there are two places to get
capital – New Zealand and overseas. And borrowing
from overseas has effectively seen our country being downgraded!
The recent earthquakes in Christchurch are going to
cost the country a considerable sum of money. One of the many ways the
Government will be looking to raise the necessary money to kick start the
infrastructure rebuild will be the issuing of bonds. These bonds will be
critical for the economy and could possibly be a prudent portion of a
diversified portfolio. Details on these bonds will probably be available in
Having healthy savings levels means a country can
call on domestic capital for important projects and investment. As a result,
individuals end up better off through better returns on their money – and we
also benefit as a nation.
Whichever way you look at it, saving money makes
sense – for us and for the country!