No wonder libertarians like to keep government out of the market: they just want to spare capitalists the embarassment

by cemeteryjones

HT: Mickeysavage@thestandard

It seems that our resident (somehow perpetually publicly salaried) freemarket guru Bill English done fucked the dog again! Savage points out that the latest data shows that ‘the Cullen Fund shows the Government that it does not have to sell strategically important assets to improve the country’s finances, all it has to do is continue investing in the fund.’ Citing a report from over at Stuff, which notes

The “Cullen” superannuation fund has posted a return of 1.66 per cent in November, taking its overall value to $24.93 billion – roughly half the Government’s net debt.

Over the last 12 months, as world equity markets soared, it earned 27.76 per cent or about $5.5b. That was more than the Government’s asset-sales programme, which is forecast to bring in between $4.6b and $5b.

The fund’s annual return since inception in 2003 has been 9.55 per cent.

Just think, with so many markets bottomed out over the last few years, it would have been a great time to keep it growing – as National’s flagship policy of partial asset sales in the same period has shown, you make your money when you buy, not when you sell.

Back in April, Stuff also carried an article which notes that Bill English’s decision to supsend Cullen Fund payments was costing us a million a week. Digesting then-current information from Treasury, the claim is advanced that the lost opportunity has an extra sting to its tail:

That means that in 2050 the fund will cover just 7 per cent of the cost of superannuation, against 11 per cent under the full-funding model. In the meantime, the Government will also miss out on extra tax the fund would have paid from its higher earnings.

The best part of the story is, of course, seeing Bill English take one in the skull from the blowback of his own actions. A guest post at the Standard from May 2009, which anticipated the suspension of payments, noted that ‘National doesn’t like the Cullen Fund, and they would get rid of it if they could. When they nicknamed it after Cullen, they meant it pejoratively’, and in that sense this news is welcome egg on their faces. This egg will multiply if it looks like he left the next Labour-led coalition a structural time bomb, which is hinted at in the guest post:

the law says that if contributions to the fund are suspended, they have to be made up with larger contributions in the future. We pay either now or later but we pay. That way, it’s a sure thing that we will have the pot of money when we need it.

This adds weight to the author’s conclusion that English is counting the the resumption of payments being a political difficulty for his opponents. Instead, it may turn out to make him look as spiteful as he is incompetent. This is emphasised by comments attributed to Labour’s David Parker, noting that ‘English had described the fund as “a dog” when it was launched’.

Unfortunately for English, it looks like Labour’s dog has outperformed National’s bitch this time. Delicious really; the left teaching the right a solid lesson in basic economics, namely that investing in the name of the many (rather than divesting in the name of the few) isn’t a revelation, but just plain common sense. We should savour it, and I think I will. Let’s just go over that one again:

‘English had described the fund as “a dog” when it was launched’.


Fund size: $24.93 billion

Return since inception: 9.55 per cent per annum.

Return over last 12 months: 27.76 per cent

November return: 1.66 per cent

Maybe what he meant when he called it a dog was that he had an ardent desire to fuck it? When will the public realise that this is no exception; the left plans to invest, while the right plans theft. No wonder libertarians like to keep government out of the market: they just want to spare capitalists the embarassment.

The libertards have gone and got me all nostalgic, so let’s celebrate another successful left wing policy outperforming its opposite number with a jab at their political patron saint.