I never tell lies in politics

In the Mike Hosking telephone interview with Ardern on 18 September, these words were used: Quote.

MH: The GDP numbers on Thursday have you seen them? Or got a hint?

JA: Sorry the, sorry the ..

MH: GDP numbers, Thursday.

JA: GDP numbers, we’ll be putting out the audited final results soon.

MH: So you have seen them?

JA: I had a hint, yes.

MH: Are they good?

JA: I’m pretty pleased.

MH: Good, because you need at least 0.8 or 0.9 to rectify the 0.5 don’t you?

JA: (Laughs) Setting expectations already?

MH: No because what we need is, you had 0.5 in the first quarter, and if you start annualising at 0.5 you’re running at two. Anything at two is not acceptable. You need to be well into the threes.

JA: You’ll understand why I am going to leave that to the Minister of Finance to do that job.

MH: But you are pleased?

JA: Of course, I’m hardly ever satisfied, constantly wanting to see improvement but I’m?pleased with the way we’re tracking. End of quote.

Mike clearly asked Ardern a question about the GDP numbers.? Ardern asked for clarification on the subject of the question, Mike repeated the words “GDP numbers” and Ardern confirmed “GDP numbers“. So at this point, all parties to the conversation are clear that the subject under discussion is the GDP numbers.

Absolutely rock solid and clearly established that the subject of the questions is?GDP numbers.

The conversation moves on to metrics of GDP growth numbers; 0.8, 0,9 only had 0.5, need to get into the threes as two is not good enough.? These numbers cannot be construed to be about anything other than GDP.

Ardern is quite clear that she has had a hint and that all she is “pleased with the way we’re tracking“.

At this point, the currency dealers made trades based upon the hints that Ardern was dropping about GDP numbers.

Shortly thereafter everyone is running for cover and the denials started.

Stuff had:? Quote.

[…] Ardern’s office swiftly denied she had seen the figures, which are meant to be under strict embargo until 10:45am on Thursday when they are released by Statistics New Zealand. […]

Speaking to reporters, Ardern maintained she was talking about the Crown accounts, but acknowledged that was not clear to listeners and that Hosking was talking about something different.

Asked about the New Zealand dollar increasing after the comments, Ardern said it “absolutely should not be the case”.

“Of course the Prime Minister does not get the GDP figures. Nor should they. Those are held by Statistics [New Zealand]. I could not comment on those because I had not seen them.”

The speed with which Ardern’s office acknowledged the error reflects how important it is to maintain confidence that market sensitive information handled carefully.

Any time figures on GDP are released they are likely to influence both currency markets and products linked to interest rates. This week’s release is even more closely watched than usual, with the outcome likely to see markets guessing whether they will see the Reserve Bank cut interest rates in the coming weeks.

Statistics New Zealand has reacted to the story, with Government Statistician Liz MacPherson adamant there are “absolutely not” any hints to anyone, including the Prime Minister, before the release of economic growth figures.

“Stats NZ has strict embargo rules about tier one statistics such as gross domestic product. These figures are market sensitive and are never given to anyone in advance of the release day,” MacPherson said.

“There is a short formal briefing for relevant government ministers in the hour before the release time of 10.45am on the day, but that is under strict embargo lock-up conditions,” Ms MacPherson says. “Even then ministers are not allowed to communicate the information to anyone else before 10.45am”.

Economists are expecting the figures will show the economy picked up slightly in the three months to June 30, and may have expanded by up to 0.9 per cent in the quarter.

However if the economy grew by less than forecast, say 0.6 per cent or lower, annual growth will have fallen to around 2.5 per cent, the level at which governor Adrian Orr suggested he would consider cutting the official cash rate to all time lows.[…] End of quote.

Newshub had: Quote.

Later in the morning Ms Ardern told Newshub she wasn’t referring to the upcoming second-quarter GDP figures in the interview, but the unaudited financial accounts that she does have sight of.

“I accept he was talking about one thing, I was talking about another,” she said.[…]?End of quote.

Really Ms Ardern? Really?

Do you actually expect that after clarifying what the subject of the interview question was and repeating that subject, that we are going to accept that you were not talking about what you said you were talking about?

Do you not understand simple English? Do you not understand the difference between GDP growth numbers and the results from the Crown accounts (which are not measured in percentages)?

Have you had a hint? Have you not had a hint?

Do you understand the constraints of your role?? Do you even understand your role?

Do you never tell lies in politics?? Which is it?

Remember the debate?