18 Feb 2014

English dismisses Ireland comparisons

1:41 pm on 18 February 2014

Finance Minister Bill English is dismissing claims the economy is like Ireland's before the global financial crisis, and it's only a matter of time before the dollar falls sharply.

A London-based hedge fund manager has reportedly argued that while the economy is buoyant, the dollar is overvalued by 20 percent due to dangerously high levels of debt.

It likened New Zealand to debt-driven Ireland in 2007, which later required a bailout amid a near collapse of its banks.

Mr English agrees household debt is relatively high and houses are expensive, but says households and firms have coped.

"New Zealand households and businesses have shown that they're able to handle those pressures. We also think the exchange rate is a bit too high, in fact we've been waiting five or six years for it to come down.

"But the market seems to have a more positive view about the economy often than we do ourselves."

Local analysts also downplayed the claims, arguing New Zealand was not in the same boat as Ireland seven years ago.