LETTER TO THE EDITOR : Raving about saving?

I was slightly startled to see my views being cited by Mark Weldon in your last issue (“Saving Grace – Investing for the Future”). Here is the full quote:
Financial (sic) savvy Mark Weldon, CEO for NZX, is also hesitant to brand New Zealanders ‘poor savers’. He says wealth and investment is measured in different ways and New Zealanders can generally be relied upon to think for themselves and obtain good advice.
“There seems to be whole lot of debate around whether New Zealand has savings problem. But that question, if it ever was question, has been hijacked by people like [author and consultant] Michael Littlewood who rave on and on about our poor savings record,” says Weldon.
I won’t run the risk of summarising Mark Weldon’s views on whether New Zealanders are good savers. All I can say is that my views have been significantly misrepresented.
The best evidence we have is that most New Zealanders are saving enough for retirement and that there is little evidence to support recent government moves in this area (like KiwiSaver). Further, overseas evidence shows that governments are relatively ineffectual when they try to influence overall private saving behaviour. Regretfully, KiwiSaver may now add to that body of evidence.
To suggest that I “rave on and on about our poor savings record” is completely at odds with what I actually say.
If Mark Weldon has been reported correctly about his own views, I am pleased. I thought he supported KiwiSaver so he might like to explain why we seemingly need to spend probably more than $2 billion year of taxpayers’ money on KiwiSaver II.
If Mark Weldon doesn’t now think KiwiSaver is good idea then I am pleased about that as well.
•Michael Littlewood
Retirement Policy and Research Centre Business School, University of Auckland

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