Jacinda Ardern has been busy with pre-talk talks about having formal pre-talk talks, while the housing hot potato gets passive-aggressively tossed around. James Elliott has the news of the week.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke with US President-in-waiting-until-20-January-2021 Joe Biden this week. It’s unclear whether she was calling Joe to congratulate him on his apparent election victory or calling him so that he could congratulate Jacinda on hers. In any event there was no doubt congratulations all round. Congratulations and an audible trans-Pacific sigh of relief that Jacinda wasn’t having to call you-know-who to congratulate him. You-know-who is of course the current US President who is now in the Voldemort stage of his political life cycle and shall not be named. Henceforth he is to be referred to as the US-President-in-waiting-to-depart-the-White-House-together-with-his-family-of-grifters,-by-use-of-force-if-necessary,-on-or-before-20-January-2021.
Aside from the mutual congratulations, Jacinda and Joe also talked about trade, climate change and Covid-19. Those weren’t official talks on those subjects, they were provisional pre-talk talks about having formal pre-talk talks about talks in due course. Once Joe has been sworn in, and you-know-who has been sworn at, we can then have formal pre-talk talks with the US about scheduling formal talks including, if necessary, further pre-talk talk talks to agree the agenda for those formal talks, which agenda will no doubt include talks about post-talk talks. This process may be confusing to the lay person but there’s no need for concern because if there’s one thing our current Government is very good at it’s talking the talk.
Grant Robertson’s prepared to ask just about anyone about how to lower house prices and Kamala would have been able to tell him, based on the US housing market, that all he needs to do is facilitate a stock market crash, lax banking lending standards and a subprime mortgage crisis.
While it’s convention for current leaders like Jacinda to congratulate incoming leaders like Joe it’s unclear what the convention is for outgoing leaders. Winston Peters is an outgoing leader of sorts and I would provide the finest popcorn known to mankind to be in the audience for a call of commiseration from Winston to you-know-who. That won’t happen for a number of reasons, principally because you-know-who is refusing to accept the inevitability of his electoral defeat. And he’s doing it in a manner that the incoming-tide-defying King Canute would probably describe as being a bit over the top, in other words he’s dribbling the delusional diatribe of the ejected, dejected and formerly Covid-infected. And, let’s hope, unable to be politically resurrected.
It’s also unclear whether the convention of the congratulations call extends to deputy leaders, so we don’t know if Deputy PM Grant Robertson called US Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris to congratulate her. I suspect not. And that’s a pity because that was a missed opportunity for Grant. He’s prepared to ask just about anyone about how to lower house prices and Kamala would have been able to tell him, based on the US housing market, that all he needs to do is facilitate a stock market crash, lax banking lending standards and a subprime mortgage crisis. The brutality of that bubble-bursting might explain why Grant didn’t make that call.
Adrian Orr pointed out that the Reserve Bank already takes house prices into account when setting monetary policy. This equally nuanced response also requires interpretation and meant “we have both highly heat-resistant gloves and a slingshot at the ready to return said potato to you”.
Less explicable is why Grant didn’t just make a call to the Governor of our own Reserve Bank, Adrian Orr, to discuss the housing market. Instead Grant sent Adrian a letter about the housing market prompting some to question the propriety of that move given the Reserve Bank’s statutory independence. My question is why did he send a letter when he could have phoned? Or taken the Google-mapped three minute walk of 250 metres from his office to the Reserve Bank to see Adrian in person? Or sent Adrian a YouTube clip on how to read semaphore and then stand on the southern roof of the Beehive waving flags in the general direction of Number Two, The Terrace reading “Adrian, let’s flower house prices.” “Sorry, I meant lower.”
One benefit of writing a letter is that it becomes a document of record, and is much easier to file than a placard. Another key benefit of writing a letter is that a letter is the most passive aggressive of all known forms of communication. In this case Grant’s letter questioned whether the Reserve Bank’s remit should be tweaked so that it could take steps to “avoid unnecessary instability” in the housing market. Letters of this nature are nuanced and their meanings have to be interpreted. In this case Grant’s letter meant “the housing crisis is the hottest political hot potato in the country and I intend to provide you with mildly heat-resistant gloves and then toss it to you”.
Adrian responded to Grant’s letter in the most passive aggressive manner possible – he wrote a letter back. And he sent his reply back just a couple of hours later, the quick turnaround being an exemplar of active passive aggression. In his reply letter Adrian pointed out that the Reserve Bank already takes house prices into account when setting monetary policy. This equally nuanced response also requires interpretation and meant “we have both highly heat-resistant gloves and a slingshot at the ready to return said potato to you”.
If only they both could treat the housing market like it were Covid-19, then maybe they could work together to develop a vaccine.
Have a peaceful weekend.