Friday, February 8, 2013

Export Risk–and be grateful you can

Maybe the least understood facet of foreign ownership in N.Z. as we troll around with the thousands of years old reaction to economic pressure - out with the xenophobia, plenty of bias against foreigners and attempt to protect one's non existent "frontier" - is the fact that foreign ownership allows you to export risk.

How is risk exported? Simply think of all those American citizen shareholder investors who bore the brunt of the Telecom share price slide from around $8.50 down to $2.30 or so. Think of all those Australian shareholders invested in banks whose loans in N.Z. go sour. It is not the much touted Kiwi Mum and Dad investor who wear the losses - it is investors elsewhere.

Nothing could be more useful in tough times than to be able to transfer risk. In N.Z. there is a premium on this ability because our own economy is small and undiversified and therefore poor at bearing risk. Large countries with diversified economies are better able to do the job and carry those risks while the N.Z. economy is developed, regains momentum for growth and generates income.

So along with all the other sound reasons to welcome foreign investment, add the fact that our risk bearing capacity is lousy and it is good to have friends who will share the load.


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