Jacinda Ardern Will Be Gone Soon but New Zealand’s Economic Troubles Are Here to Stay – The New York Times

by | Jan 20, 2023 | Financial

A racist attack on two mosques that left 51 people dead. A deadly volcanic eruption. The coronavirus pandemic.Over nearly six years in office, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand skillfully weathered one sudden catastrophe after another and cruised to re-election in 2020. But in the background, New Zealand’s longstanding economic issues — like expensive housing and a high cost of living — continued to simmer.Now, with national elections less than nine months away and days after her shock resignation, the future of Ms. Ardern’s liberal Labour Party will hinge on how voters perceive she and her government tackled those problems. And with economic momentum falling, interest rates rising and inflation cutting into household budgets, critics, including those in the opposing center-right National Party, will seek to place the blame at her door.The weight of those problems is expected to fall on Chris Hipkins, the current education and policing minister, who was nominated at a caucus on Saturday to lead the party and, thus, the country. The nomination is expected to be formally endorsed on Sunday.“The government’s legacy seems, depending on who you talk to, to either be completely abysmal or the most golden amazing thing ever,” said Brad Olsen, the principal economist at Infometrics, a consulting firm. “The truth is a bit more between those two marks.”On Thursday, when Ms. Ardern announced her plan to step down, among her detractors was Ben Buist, 49. Speaking in downtown Christchurch, he told of struggling with the country’s cost of living crisis and trying to get affordable housing.“Where’s all the houses she said she’d build?” he said, referring to a flagship campaign promise to construct 100,000 new homes, a pledge that helped bring Ms. Ardern to power. Only a fraction of those houses were built during her tenure.When Ms. Ardern notched her surprise upset victory in 2 …

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