The rant isn’t here – it is over on interest.co.nz.
I’d note that I’m relatively sensitive about the idea of prejudice and how social norms form against “groups”. Policy that is formed in this sense has a massive institutional weakness – namely that it relies on using an “indirect signal” to try to transfer, a signal that can be misinterpreted. As a result, when defending against those sorts of policies I become a bit more willing to show my hand and express directly how uncomfortable it makes me.
Essentially I make three arguments in the piece:
- A ‘bubble’ from foreign owners is a transfer to NZers – no problem!
- A medium term affordability issue does not stem from foreign owners – it has to stem from supply issues!
- Any normative/distributional concerns about the transfer of resource from current NZ owners to current (and future) NZ buyers is legitimate – but better to deal with it through the tax and benefit system and intergenerational equity, rather than stopping trade and banning non-residents from purchasing!
A broader point was that, if we want to use a “solution” we should actually have a problem in mind first … just making a “solution” and hunting for a problem is not a good form of analysis. Although it is one we are all guilty of at times!
Update: I’ve been told that a lot of people are complaining about being called xenophobic. Well that is nice for them, the action of pushing for house sales to foreigners being banned is still xenophobic – these people have a fear of someone else trading with someone else who just doesn’t have a NZ passport. They are willing to hurt both foreigners and the people who would trade with them, simply to allay this fear. I’m not going to stop saying it just because it offends your sensibilities – I think the entire idea of these bans is morally wrong, why would I go back on this just because it makes you feel funny.
Banning non-residents from buying houses isn’t “brave policy to save the poor in New Zealand”. It is weak and pathetic policy for those who are uninterested in the real poor and would prefer to pretend they are doing something by limiting people’s rights due to their nationality. I can only rationalise the fact people are willing to try this by stating that they don’t really understand what they are saying – hence why I stated in the article that we need to define what the problem is and then we can show that for every “problem” there is a better “solution”.
If you find it difficult to actually think about these trade-offs, and to accept your inherent bias against other human beings, then STFU about policy. If you want to actually discuss trade-offs and stay away from arbitrarily attacking non-New Zealanders, then I’m more than happy to chat and to investigate the data and research that is out there on these especially complicated issues.
Note I’m not even rallying against capital controls here, I realise in specific extreme situations they may have a place (although just doing it in housing for foreign buyers doesn’t really make sense) – but the debate out there isn’t about this, it is about whether non-residents can buy property without really discussing why (usually first home buyers blah blah blah). And is often filled with commentary about “Asian buyers”. A level of tacit racism that really needs to GTFO.
Oww, and if you want to know what kind of “vested interest group” I am, I own zero properties – I rent. I live in Wellington. I am 29. I am male and white. Enjoy. I am in the group who is being “ripped off” by the fact I can’t just buy a cheap house … I’ve just learnt to actually think about others in the marketplace before I rant incoherently 😉