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This paper explores the use of scenario analysis as a contingency planning tool to examine how various purposefully-severe shocks could impact on the Crown’s fiscal position. A magnitude 7.8 earthquake and a process of domestic deleveraging are used to test the resilience of the fiscal position (respectively) to a one-off spike in spending and a more protracted downturn in the economy.
A New Zealand economic crisis is not considered imminent, but historically unprecedented levels of private sector debt present a risk for the country’s finances. Scenario analysis can model hypothetical shocks based on past experience either in New Zealand or abroad. However, the results cannot take into account many of the factors that allowed New Zealand to come through the recent global financial crisis in a better position than many other developed economies. The tool’s usefulness is in considering how the size and structure of the balance sheet affect policy sustainability in a shock.
Our results suggest that a sustained decline in tax revenue represents a key risk to the fiscal position. The adjustments necessary to continue debt repayments and avoid a liquidity crisis are compared to historic episodes of fiscal consolidation. While low government debt provides a significant buffer, the resulting (necessary) burden of adjustment in a larger crisis could still fall heavily on taxpayers through fairly rapid changes to tax or government spending.
Thanks to the large number of Treasury staff who have provided comment including Renee Baker, Chris Ball, Matthew Bell, Nic Blakeley, Tim Hampton, Ruth Isaac, Natalie Labuschagne, Marcus Jackson, Tracy Mears, Samara McDowell and Oscar Parkyn. Thanks also to Michael Reddell at the RBNZ for input at an early stage and to Paul Dyer. External review was provided by Aaron Drew from the New Zealand Superannuation Fund and by Mario DiMaio at the IMF.
The views, opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Working Paper are strictly those of the author(s). They do not necessarily reflect the views of the New Zealand Treasury or the New Zealand Government. The New Zealand Treasury and the New Zealand Government take no responsibility for any errors or omissions in, or for the correctness of, the information contained in these working papers. The paper is presented not as policy, but with a view to inform and stimulate wider debate.
Table of Contents
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Crown risk and crisis management
- 2.2 Sustainability, liquidity, and debt dynamics
- 3 Methodology
- 3.2 Economic modelling
- 3.3 Estimating liquidity risk
- 3.3.2 The operating balance and consolidation
- 4 Scenario 1: A one-off spending shock
- 5 Scenario 2: Weaker growth
- 5.5 Comparative OECD countries
- 5.6 Impact on the New Zealand fiscal position
- 5.6.2 Post crisis fiscal consolidation
- 5.7 Risk summary for each scenario
- 5.8 Probability assessment
- 6 Future work
- 7 Conclusions
- 8 References
- Appendix 1: Debt dynamics