OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: My last name sounds Chinese

187 Responses

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  • David Tong,

    So, wait - if I don't take statistics that claim that I must be Chinese seriously, some people here think I'm a raging Public Address lefty?

    Yeah, I'm not getting that.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2015 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • llew40,

    Sorry but hard to see this as anything other than ham-fisted politics. Phil has turned a legitimate economic issue related to the impact of foreign speculators on Auckland housing affordability to a singling out of Chinese investors based on ropy stats. So the political opposition gets to frame labour as dog whistling, labour get to spend days explaining what they *really* meant. And media get plenty to feed off.

    Since Nov 2012 • 140 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    John Palethorpe blogs:

    If David Seymour could establish the necessary political nuance to successfully discuss the issue without being called racist, xenophobic or downright fucking stupid, why couldn’t Labour?
    ...
    Some have defended Labour, saying that the accusations of xenophobia and racism are opportunistic. But if they want to not be called xenophobic and racist, they need to stop using xenophobic and racist rhetoric as a tool to attack the Government. And if they want their opponents to stop being opportunistic, they should stop giving them so many god damned opportunities.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19573 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Seriatim,

    If this initiative pressures the Nats into finally setting up a buyers’ register – success. It doesn’t matter what it reveals, just as long as we finally have hard data to base some effective policy on.

    I think this whole episode is a clear example of why it's not in the government's political interests to set up a register at all, and this seems to be a government which is highly driven by political interests. Why start measuring things when you can watch your opposition blindly make up numbers to support their conclusions, then point and laugh? Being able to accuse them of racism because of how the numbers are made up is just another bonus.

    It'd be nice to see some opposition parties making a clear and vocal commitment to measuring foreign buyers properly, then presenting clear policy on how they'll react depending on the results. At worst (best?) it'll result in National's internal polling convicing National to do it anyway and claim it was always going to, but at least that results in something earlier, even if it's a poor substitute for what's really needed. If that doesn't happen, voters at least have an opportunity to force things at the next election. Either way there are eventually some real numbers to talk about.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    This story led 3News, and plenty of NZer's would have nodded their heads in agreement with Twyford. QED.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2202 posts Report Reply

  • simon g, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Sugar hits work, as long as there's more sugar to come. For the next two years. With predictable - and bad - side effects.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1273 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to llew40,

    Sorry but hard to see this as anything other than ham-fisted politics. Phil has turned a legitimate economic issue related to the impact of foreign speculators on Auckland housing affordability to a singling out of Chinese investors based on ropy stats. So the political opposition gets to frame labour as dog whistling, labour get to spend days explaining what they *really* meant. And media get plenty to feed off.

    That’s fair.

    I don’t think the analysis is completely bonkers. It’s the kind of thing you might do internally, to get an idea of what’s going on in the absence of better data. You’d be entitled to find it interesting if you found some evidence that the number of Chinese traders in the property market was way out of proportion to the number of resident Chinese.

    But it’s simply not strong enough to to go public with like this, especially when you can’t control the way the Herald’s going to frame it.

    Focusing on non-resident Chinese investors isn’t necessarily racist either. There actually aren’t any other countries with trillions of dollars of capital looking for places to go, and the Chinese credit and investment environment is very weird, as evidenced by the recent drama on the Chinese stock markets. It is entirely possible that Chinese capital (and credit) is distorting our badly-regulated residential property market.

    But this just isn’t good enough data to go out and say so with, especially when you’ve dragged residents into it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22584 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    QED

    Ends justify means, for some.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19573 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to simon g,

    what's a bit of diabetes between friends?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19573 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But this just isn’t good enough data to go out and say so with, especially when you’ve dragged residents into it.

    Point is however that residents – of all ethnicity’s – are negatively affected in equal measure by offshore investors from economies running QE/ZIRP monetary policy.

    There is a young guy of Chinese ethnicity on that new program ‘House Hunt’ – and he’s as locked out of Auckland as is every other NZer earning a NZ wage and trying to purchase a house with it.

    Point is - even if the vast majority of these people buying are residents - they are still paying more, much, much more than they should be based on our average wages. And we (NZ) are adding vast sums to our mortgage borrowing.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But it’s simply not strong enough to to go public with like this, especially when you can’t control the way the Herald’s going to frame it.

    Or to be entirely cynical, you know exactly how a paper with a long history of race-baiting and playing fast and loose with facts around property prices will frame it...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Soon Lee, in reply to Seriatim,

    "If this initiative pressures the Nats into finally setting up a buyers' register - success. It doesn't matter what it reveals, just as long as we finally have hard data to base some effective policy on."

    So I'm just collateral damage?

    I got a good look at the inside of my skull reading the article, my eyes rolled so hard. The article is wrongheaded in so many ways.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2013 • 141 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Or to be entirely cynical, you know exactly how a paper with a long history of race-baiting and playing fast and loose with facts around property prices will frame it…

    And not just the Granny. Pat Booth's 'Asian invasion' articles in the community papers come to mind. At the time, housing apparently wasn't even the biggest issue.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5399 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to Soon Lee,

    So I’m just collateral damage?

    Every time George Bush Jr. opened his mouth I was collateral damage.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • Soon Lee, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    George Bush Jr. is not a member of the opposition party in the New Zealand.

    This? This I take personally because, hey, have you seen my name?

    Auckland • Since Apr 2013 • 141 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Our politics might be better if Auckland-sourced MPs entering the Thorndon Bubble did not forget what they had experienced before that. I can understand their colleagues from less diverse parts of the nation struggling a bit with racism, even nowadays.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19573 posts Report Reply

  • Eddie Clark, in reply to Katharine Moody,

    Did... did you just compare Anti-American sentiment during the GWB years to racism? Good lord.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 273 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    Don't ask me why I'm wading into this.

    Firstly on the ethnicity measure. Yes it's not very robust, and there will be plenty of false positives, and more than a few false negatives. But it's not totally terrible. I've seen it in one published paper (on medical school admissions, where they had no ethnicity data; from memory mostly to separate "south asian" in the UK). And more broadly, the idea of using a proxy measure in the absence of good data is pretty normal.

    Secondly, any way that you present data has strengths and weaknesses. Yes the percentages portray it one way, and looking at the absolute numbers portray it another way. But Keith also indulges in some sleight of hand. Yes it's entirely possible for 126000 people to buy 3500 houses. But that does also look very high when that means that 1274000 buy 5318 houses. But see my final conclusion below.

    Thirdly, fewer houses do sell in winter. I could only find 2013 data, but it looks like approx 26000 houses sold that year. Assuming the ethnicity breakdown was to approximately hold for a full year and that the agency was reasonably representative, that would be 10270/126000 and 15370/1274000. That's 8.2 sales per 100 people and 1.2 sales per 100 people. Or 6.75 times more sales per hundred for people with Chinese sounding surnames. That's quite a big difference, and likely to be a combination of multiple factors.

    Fourth, in Auckland, the going rate of home ownership is 61% at the last census. If that rate were to apply to people with Chinese sounding surnames, that would equate to on average 1 house sale per home owner every 8 years. That is not an outrageous rate of sales. If the home ownership rate for the Census "asian" category (35%) applies to Chinese sounding surnames, then it's a sale very four and a bit years. Still not that outrageous.

    Surprising New Conclusion: House sales to Chinese sounding surnames only seem high against amazingly low rate of house sales among people that don't have Chinese sounding surnames.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • Katharine Moody, in reply to Eddie Clark,

    No, because this issue is not about a race of people - this issue is about country of origin (the origin of QE/ZIRP money, that is) - hence the analogy.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    I realise I forgot to spell the final point out. If your surname doesn't sound Chinese, then it would appear that there is 1 sale per home owner every 30 years*. Which is really freaking low.

    * There's quite a bit of kludge in this, but doesn't seem worse than the original analysis.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • Eddie Clark,

    Just curious if any of the "it's not racist ok" crowd are of Asian descent or have Asian loved ones. Because my Canadian-born Chinese partner is about to move here, and I'd be embarrassed as hell to show him this thread. Easy to be pious and clueless when it's not you facing the bigoted backlash Twyford is prompting here.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 273 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I'd prefer to see Labour attacking this government for adding residential development to the acceptable investments for migrants buying their way into NZ.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19573 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    CODA - Someone usefully pointed out that I haven't accounted for couples in my analysis, so you could probably reduce those estimates, but I also haven't accounted for investor activity, which will push them back out a bit again.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Nobody got to upset when the Australians began buying up in NZ in the early 2000s after Australian tax authorities allowed negative gearing on overseas investment properties. But then, the 1 month after Australian tax changes to 2007 foreign buying was by people with European New Zealander sounding surnames.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1443 posts Report Reply

  • jh,

    It's all settled then racist, racist, racist?
    Why is Labour bombing? Look no further.

    Since May 2007 • 103 posts Report Reply

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