'Learn from Boomers' comments spark apology

Tony Alexander said young people priced out of the market are wrong to point the finger at retirees.
SUPPLIED

Tony Alexander said young people priced out of the market are wrong to point the finger at retirees.

BNZ chief executive Anthony Healy has backed away from controversial comments made by his chief economist.

Tony Alexander sent a column out to subscribers last week in which he said young people should take some tips from the older generations if they want to own a house.  You can read the full column here.

He said young people wanting a house should buy a "dunger or even a meth house to strip, and do it up". "Basically be prepared to do what the Boomers did in many instances," he said.

"Start out in a desolate new suburb of clay soil far from work, do up a piece of shite, or build and live in what will become your garage whilst building the rest of the house around you in the following few years.

The Boomers vs Gen Y debate is not helpful, says BNZ CEO Anthony Healy.
CHRIS SKELTON/FAIRFAX NZ

The Boomers vs Gen Y debate is not helpful, says BNZ CEO Anthony Healy.

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"And how to finance it? Go to cafes and spend as much on lattes, muffins, frappes, wraps, etc. as often as the Baby Boomers did," he said.

Comments flooded on to BNZ's social media accounts, to which spokespeople replied that Alexander's comments were "provocative" but that he was entitled to his view.

That prompted some to suggest that BNZ should get Alexander to apologise because he had put out his views in a BNZ newsletter.

Bank boss Anthony Healy chimed in saying Alexander's references to meth houses were not helpful, and a debate on Baby Boomers versus Generation Y did not help. "I apologise, on behalf of BNZ, for Tony's more inflammatory remarks," he said.

Economist Shamubeel Eaqub said Healy had made the right call. He said, while Alexander, was free to say what he liked and did not have to toe the BNZ line, he was "well out of line".  "Where does he get off saying these things that are complete lies?"

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He said he was glad Healy had engaged on Twitter. "The only thing he missed is that bank lending had a lot to do with rising house prices."

BNZ and Alexander have each been approached for comment. 

Banking commentator David Tripe said Alexander's role was more "out there in a bit of a different way" to other bank economisrs.

"His role is almost as a public commentator who happens to be paid by the BNZ."

Tripe said Alexander had appeared to get close to crossing a legal line in some columns when he answered a "if I were a borrower, what would I do?" question with a recommendation.  In the most recent column, he recommended fixing for three years.

"I must admit there have been columns where he appeared to give financial advice in relation to fixed mortgages," Tripe said. "I thought that was dodgy. We'll see how it develops.'

He said one disagreement with the chief executive would be unlikely to terminate the relationship but a series of them might.

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 - Stuff

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