6 Mar 2013

National debt may be a little lower - Treasury

8:35 pm on 6 March 2013

Treasury officials say New Zealanders' indebtedness to the rest of the world may not be as bad as thought, though they warn that does not mean the country should relax efforts to reduce its dependence on foreign money.

New Zealand has spent more than it earns for more than 30 years.

While foreigners are prepared to keeping lending, analysts say it means the country faces higher interest rates, and leaves it vulnerable to lenders demanding their money back quickly if there are shocks to the global economy.

The net international investment position shows New Zealand owes foreigners the equivalent of 73% of gross domestic product (at the end of September 2012), but Treasury chief economist Girol Karacaoglu said new analysis indicates if may be closer to 65% of GDP.

Mr Karacaoglusaid it appears investments held by individuals and trusts overseas, including pensions may be under-reported, which at the margin, may be important as to how the country is perceived among foreign lenders.