A Word from Bill Kaye-Blake, New Zealand Institute of Economic Research principal economist based in Bannonckburn

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Time to create our own future

Someone recently asked me what is going to happen to the economy.

Economists get that question a lot. Of course, if I really knew the answer, I’d be a lot richer.

It made me think of that quote: the best way to predict the future is to create it.

A lot of people are trying to create the post-Covid-19 future, so we may as well get stuck in to create the future we want.

Last year, I reviewed more than 100 reports and documents on Covid-19 impacts and responses.

They were written by governments and non-governmental organisations from around the world.

They outlined the problems they saw and offered solutions.

One thing struck me, though: they usually offered the same solutions they had been talking about for years.

These organisations weren’t shy about it, either.

They said repeatedly, we developed this plan a few years ago and now it is the perfect solution. That was true across agriculture, transport, healthcare, government, finance

It made me wonder whether we learned anything from the pandemic.

It looks more like all these people are trying to create the future they want, and this is their opportunity.

This year, there was some consternation in United States economic news.

Low-wage businesses such as restaurants and retail were finding it hard to attract staff.

The businesses blamed the $300 per week extra that the unemployed got because of Covid-19.

And maybe they’re right.

Maybe that bit of extra money is giving people more choice.

Maybe they are getting a chance to think about what they want.

Maybe they are getting the chance to help create their own futures.

Now imagine some of that same energy in New Zealand.

Individuals and groups decide that now is the time to do what they have always wanted to do; what they always thought was the right thing to do.

What would that economy look like?

What would that world look like?

I don’t know, and neither do you.

But I can tell you that other people are working to make their visions happen.

Whether it’s international organisations finally getting money for their pet projects, or unemployed people finally making a go of their life’s dream future.

That gets me back to our corner of the world.

Rather than trying to guess what will happen next, maybe the question is, what do we want?

If we are going to create the future, now’s as good a time as any.