IMF says housing bubble could unsettle strong New Zealand economy

The IMF has repeated calls for new taxes on property to reduce speculation in the housing market.
MONIQUE FORD / FAIRFAX NZ

The IMF has repeated calls for new taxes on property to reduce speculation in the housing market.

A global finance watchdog says New Zealand should consider new taxes on property speculation, in a largely positive assessment of the economy.

The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) annual consultation paper on the New Zealand economy said the country enjoyed "broad based momentum" in 2016, with low interest rates, a "wave" of record net migration and strong terms of trade.

However, directors of the New York headquartered group warned that there was a risk that strong economic growth could be undermined by the "booming" housing market or a drop in international trade.

"Downside risks stemming from a booming housing market, as well as the potential for tighter external financial conditions, lower demand from trading partners, or disruptions to international trade have increased vulnerabilities," the IMF said in a summary of its report.

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"Tax measures related to housing could be considered to reduce incentives for leveraged real estate investments by households. Such measures could help redirect savings to other, potentially more productive, investments and, thereby, support deeper capital markets."

Finance Minister Steven Joyce said the report endorsed New Zealand's economic plan.

"The IMF notes that the New Zealand economy is more resilient than in the past, specifically referencing our lower current account deficits than in previous periods of expansion. It also notes that New Zealand is benefiting economically from its current growth in population."

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 - Stuff

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