09 February 2011

New Zealand's overseas debt

There is a lot of talk about New Zealand's overseas debt. Usually described as "ballooning". And sometimes the debt levels are compared to those of Ireland and Greece. According to the Reserve Bank, at 24 December 2010, New Zealand as a whole owed international creditors $253 billion NZ dollars. This is equal to 132% of GDP. The Reserve Bank provides the debt data analysed between Government and corporate (private) debt in this spreadsheet I made it into the chart with R.

The first step is saving the data into a Comma Separated Values file with a spreadsheet programme. The R code is then:

d <- read.csv("he3.csv", skip = 2,header=TRUE, sep=",", na.strings="na", dec=".", strip.white=TRUE)
tmax<-max(totdebt,na.rm = TRUE)
plot(totdebt, ylim=c(0,tmax),type="n", main="New Zealand Overseas Debt 1993 to 2010",las=0,xlab="", ylab="$NZ billion",xaxt="n")
axis(side=1, las=0,at=c(8,28,48,68), labels=c("1995", "2000", "2005","2010"))
mtext(side=1,line=2.4,cex=0.9,"Source: New Zealand Reserve Bank")
legend(1,250,bty="n",c("Total Debt","Private Debt","Government Debt"),lty = 1,lwd=2,col=c(2,3,4))

The chart makes it pretty obvious it is the private sector overseas debt that has steadily increased and not Government overseas debt.

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