To call New Zealand’s economic reforms of the recent past “successful” (“Bull Market,” 3/8) is negligence, arrogance, or fantasy on the part of this publication. In terms of national income growth over this period, New Zealand has persistently underperformed against the rest of the developed world, and material standards of living have, on the whole, relatively declined against these countries. In general, market-oriented policies in the New Zealand experience have simply exaggerated many existing problems, precluded solutions, and created new worries, such as the progressive extinction of large domestically owned firms, increased income inequality, and higher unemployment with its attendant social problems.
The case of New Zealand’s railways/Tranzrail, as mentioned in the article, is perhaps the best single example of the failure of the privatization aspect of the reforms. Under private ownership the company has been asset-stripped, found to be negligent in a string of fatal or otherwise serious accidents involving employees and passengers, and forced to return rights to commuter rail corridors after failing to undertake promised development.
Either the writer of this article has a somewhat warped sense of success, or she simply did not bother to double-check rhetoric with reality.