Dollar print run nixed by fund managers

RICHARD MEADOWS
Last updated 14:27 18/01/2013

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New Zealand fund managers have unanimously trashed the suggestion that the Reserve Bank should print more money to take pressure off the high dollar.

The result comes from a quarterly survey of leading investment managers conducted by meta-manager Russell Investments.

It asked whether the Reserve Bank or Government should look at bringing down the value of the dollar through measures such as quantitative easing.

The answer was a resounding "no" from the eight companies that responded.

"With the New Zealand dollar sitting at US84 cents last week the perception is that our currency is strong, but the reality is that it more likely reflects weakness of the US dollar," said Russell's New Zealand head of consulting Daniel Mussett.

All the managers agreed the high exchange rate was hurting manufacturers and exporters, and creating a drag on economic growth in the short-term.

But several considered it would be dangerous, if not impossible, to manage the currency through direct intervention.

"Since weak currencies typically characterise poor countries, the sentiment from managers is that it is doubtful you can become rich by making yourself poor," said Mussett.

Last year Greens co-leader Russel Norman proposed printing new money to invest in government earthquake bonds for funding the rebuild of Christchurch and refilling the Natural Disaster Fund.

The suggestion of quantitative easing was dismissed by Prime Minister John Key as "wacky" and rejected by the Reserve Bank.

The Russell Investment survey also showed positive sentiment towards the New Zealand economy rose in the December quarter.

That was in part related to the Christchurch rebuild, improved data from key trading partners and higher house prices.

The respondents believed the New Zealand equity market was sitting at fair value, following a bumper year on the NZX with 25 per cent return.

"Managers share a view that expectations for company earnings will be exceeded and that there is demand for higher income investments," said Mussett.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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