As violent January 2023 storms buffet the country and "supply chain issues" have led to a shortage of eggs and bread, are we looking at a portend of things to come? I've read many predictions for the year from the various pundits and commentators (from Stuff, Interest, Kiwiblog, and so on) and an interesting theme is that on the whole they don't see a catastrophe on the horizon.
It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future.
— Yogi Berra
NIWA predicts a hot, dry summer. As with any climate cultist prophecy, you know that means we're in for a wet and cold summer. With the rate that the IPCC is downgrading its global warming models, they're likely to be predicting global cooling by the end of the decade.
It's an election year and pundits from across the spectrum are safely predicting a close election. Many elections are (or rather are made to seem) close. Pundits seem reluctant to see a proper recession start until after the election. The Reserve Bank is keen to push unemployment up, but as long as immigration remains muted, we're not so likely to see that happen. Labour shortages are good for New Zealand workers and families: as long as jobs are secure and higher wages can be negotiated to deal with inflation then the people will be happy. Negative GDP figures will be shrugged off. This may be Jacinda's saving grace. We can know with certainty that a National/Act government will open the floodgates and depress wages via immigration the moment they hold the reins of power. Voters won't be rushing to embrace that outcome.
The election shouldn't be close, but Chris Luxon is so unappealing and the National Party so left-wing that there's a general apathy. The biggest thing propping him up is the seething hatred for Jacinda out there. The media could control the balance of power with a few key stories run at the right time. Ardern and Luxon both understand this, as do their handlers. Barring economic catastrophe or scandal, the election won't so much be a storm as a carefully manufactured intra-party reshuffle via the appearance of the democratic will.
New parties formed since the previous election won't factor in any meaningful way. This is largely because Jacinda isn't stupid enough to let COVID feature by mid-year, and the few remaining Branch Covidian holdouts can be sent to vote Green. These new parties also don't have an ideological space to fill. "Freedom" isn't the foundation of a meaningful or coherent political philosophy. Any reliance on populist fervour can be hovered up by an expert player like Winston Peters. As an old friend noted many years ago, Peters has a base of 3% that will never desert him and that leaves him with 2% to pick up during a campaign season. We know where he's set his sights and it's a crowded space with Matt King, Brian Tamaki, Sue Grey, and even Liz Gunn vying for what is certain to be a sub 5% constituency by November. The maths doesn't add up and challengers don't have the luxury to wait a few more cycles for Peters to shed his mortal coil.
Even then, it's going to be a hard slog for either NC, NZF, or TOP to make an entry—but there's certainly space for one or more in Parliament since they occupy distinct and more permanent ideological spaces.
The "supply chain issues" emptying shelves around the country have become commonplace over the past three years. Things aren't looking bright in China (which we rely on for many goods) and the war in Europe (that we are involved in by proxy) will continue to rage on. The housing bubble will continue to deflate… or will it? I had a look at some key growing suburbs and there are desirable places that have barely seen a dent in their all-time highs. Neither Labour nor National have any interest in making the fundamental changes required to make housing affordable again.
One thing is certain however: things are going to have to get a lot worse. Rather than hoping that this is the year we experience massive political change or economic upheaval, here at Right Minds we are going to relax a bit and stick to working on foundations that can weather the inevitable storm. Come when it may.