Inane crude economic nationalism

I picked up the Dominion-Post newspaper from the front step this morning to find this blaring back at me.

Kiwibank 1

The second page was entirely green, with a little Kiwibank logo and the twee marketing  line “Kiwis backing Kiwis”.  (I guess advertising must have been more expensive in the Herald, where it is “just” wrapped round the sports section).

Rarely had I ever been more glad that I’d never been tempted to shift my banking business to the state-owned Kiwibank.  The crude nationalism on display today was at possibly an even more inane level than the last such NZ-owned bank’s advertising campaign I wrote about

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That one was on display at the heart of New Zealand’s “globalist-central” (if there were such a place), just over the road from the New Zealand Initiative, and a few hundred metres from places like MFAT, MBIE and The Treasury.   If it had any merit, at least that campaign did have some modicum of substance to it: at least some of the profits of foreign-owned banks are in fact remitted abroad (as the profits –  whether from Wellington, Auckland or wherever – of Taranaki-owned banks are, at least in part, remitted to…..Taranaki).   What of it you might reasonably ask, but at least there is some factual foundation.

But the Kiwibank campaign takes leave of all rational foundation to suggest, quite blatantly, that somehow if you bank with an Australian-owned bank (as most of us do) you are not only disloyal, but actually supporting the Australian rugby team.  How one wonders?  I know it isn’t the cricket season today but isn’t the evil ANZ one of the biggest sponsors of New Zealand cricket?   It is just nonsensical –  all the more so for running wrapped around newspapers produced by two separate foreign-owned and controlled companies.    Are we “disloyal” –  and somehow supporting the Wallabies –  for reading the Dominion-Post?  

From my previous post

I didn’t move to Korea and yet the screen I’m typing to was made by a Korean company, and the profits from its design and manufacture presumably accrued to the owners of Samsung.   I didn’t move to the United States, and yet the platform this blog uses is (I think) American, and the profits from what I pay for using it accrue to the owners of that company.   One could go on –  the car, the printer, the TV, the bottle of French wine, or those Californian oranges in the fruit bowl.  The jersey I’m wearing is American and the books on the shelves next to me are from all over the Anglo world –  there will (producers hope) have been profits associated with each of them. 

To which I could add the Ecuadorian bananas in the fruit bowl, the Iranian dates I was baking with this morning, and the phone I was using, with componentry from all over the world.  And, of course, there are New Zealand –  the suburban bakery where I picked up the bread for lunch, or the supermarket (which perhaps I’m suppposed to feel even better about because it is part of a co-op, although what I’d prefer was some plastic bags for my groceries.

Most of us rarely give much thought to the nationality of the owners of the companies who produce the products and services we purchase.  No one supposes that owning an Apple phone means we are “supporting” the United States.  Mostly, that makes a great deal of sense (even if those Iranian dates sometimes do make me pause and I wouldn’t be buying a Huawei phone).  I’m glad my bank has been in New Zealand since 1840 – not one of these johnny-come-lately operations –  and that the capital behind it is provided voluntarily by its shareholders (from around the world, if no doubt disproportionately from Australia) rather than taken from taxpayers by coercion to invest in a bank that has struggled to earn a decent rate of return over its life so far and where there is little or no effective accountability for its operations or actions.

I presume Kiwibank has highly-paid marketers who tell them this sort of campaign “works”. Perhaps it plays especially well with politicians like Shane Jones.  But even if it does, it is something that shouldn’t be encouraged.  And the sentiments particularly shouldn’t be indulged/fed or whatever by a wholly state-owned company, whose owners strut the world proclaiming their commitment to open and multilateral trade, rules-based orders, and all that.