The economy continues to be a major concern globally but also to New Zealand. We are especially affected by what happens in Australia, partly because our major banks are Australian owned. In the last few days, the US and European countries have moved to guarantee bank deposits. The New Zealand Minister of Finance, Michael Cullen, at first said our government would not guarantee bank deposits because our banks did not take the kinds of risks that American banks took. He said that our banks were safe. However, at the weekend, the Australian government announced that bank deposits would be insured for three years. If the bank gets into financial trouble, people will not lose their money. The government will pay back the money. Now the New Zealand government has decided to do the same although the guarantee is only for two years to start with. There is no limit on how much money will be guaranteed but the banks will have to pay a fee if they have more than $5 billion in deposits.
The New Zealand government, in fact, has gone further and guaranteed deposits in finance companies. Mr Cullen said that this was necessary to stop people taking their money out of finance companies and putting it into banks. Most finance companies pay a higher interest rate than banks do because there was more risk of losing their money. Some bank managers are not happy about the guarantee for finance companies.
The leader of the National Party, John Key, said that if their party becomes the government, they will aim to invest 40% of the KiwiSaver funds into New Zealand. KiwiSaver is the government scheme to help people save for their retirement and at the moment, about 25% is invested in New Zealand. John Key says this investment will help the New Zealand economy to grow. Michael Cullen says this is not a good idea because KiwiSaver should be trying to make as much money as possible so should invest in different countries. At the moment, with the global financial problems, KiwiSaver is not doing well but this may change in the future.