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New Zealand’s debt

NZ debt %GDPBrian Gaynor in the NZ Herald wrote an article on New Zealand’s debt position. There are two important figures to note:

1. Gross external debt, which is the country’s total overseas debt.
2. Net external dent, which is determined by subtracting New Zealand’s gross overseas lending from its gross external debt.

New Zealand Government debt is currently $54.9 billion with total Government debt (external plus domestic) representing 38% of GDP. This is low by international standards. The biggest contributors to New Zealand’s external external debt are the registered banks which now account for $117.9 billion. The banks increased their overseas borrowings from $55.2 billion in 2001 to 139.5 billion in 2008. However since the GFC, banks have reduced their borrowing from overseas by $21.9 billion which is a positive development. However the big concern for New Zealand is that with a small financial market domestic borrowers source a lot of their debt from overseas lenders. New Zealand would be in a much stronger position if its financial markets could fund domestic borrowers.

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