Talk Money with Tony Field - July 16, 2015

Talk Money with Tony Field - July 16, 2015

What happens on New Zealand's farms can seem remote to many people who live in the cities, but like it or not the effects of lower global dairy prices will be felt across the whole of New Zealand.

The Global Dairy Trade auction price dropped by 10.7 percent this morning, it was the ninth consecutive fall in prices and the result was worse than expected.

Whole milk powder plunged 13 percent to US$1,848/MT -  its lowest level in six years.

AgriHQ dairy analyst Susan Kilsby describes the result as disastrous. "Farmers now face two consecutive seasons of extremely low milk prices," she says. "The majority of farmers can't break even at such a low milk price".

She is predicting that Fonterra may have to cut its payout to farmers to as low as $4.22 per kilogram of milk solids. That compares to Fonterra's forecast for the 2015/16 season of $5.25.

"A $1/kgMS drop in the milk price equates to approximately $2 billion less income for dairy farmers," she says.

"Farm debt levels will rise. Rural communities will suffer as farmers reduce spending to the bare essentials."

Prices have slumped because of global oversupply and weaker demand in the Northern Hemisphere.

Fonterra's forecast for the new season (July 2015 - June 2016) of $5.25 compares with a forecast of $4.40 for the season that has just finished.

The season before that was much higher, at a record price of $8.40.

That meant that around $7 billion was wiped from the economy as prices fell from $8.40.

The hope had been that the new season would see a turnaround in prices. But so far it is not working out that way.

The latest farm confidence surveys show that farmers intend curbing their spending to focus on essential farm costs and mortgage payments.

The New Zealand dollar fell after the auction results were released.

The Kiwi was trading at 65.95 US cents at 8am New Zealand time, a fall of 1.7 percent.

It was 89.41 Australian cents, down 0.70 percent.

The Kiwi was down 1.7 percent against the pound, at 42.18.

It fell just over one percent against the Euro, at 60.22.

 China has released its growth numbers for the June quarter.

To the surprise of many, the economy grew by the Government's target of 7 percent, despite growing signs the industrial sector is struggling.

Many in the markets were sceptical and officials had to deny they had altered the figures, but whatever the exact growth figure is there is no doubt that China is growing at its lowest levels since the Global Financial Crisis.

That is a concern for New Zealand and the world because any drop in growth by China means a fall in the amount of imported product it buys. That includes everything from whole milk powder, to timber, to the iron ore that is exported by New Zealand's closest neighbour Australia.

The growth figures were not enough to prevent China's stock markets from selling off yesterday.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 3 percent.

That reflects the fact that for some time there has been little if any correlation between the Chinese stock market and the wider economy.

The stock market has been described as a casino, with investors getting involved in the hope of making quick profits.

When the Chinese economy was at its strongest the stock market did not rally. The increase of over 100 percent in the value of Chinese stocks occurred as the wider Chinese economy was slowing.

The book industry had been expecting big things from the release of Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman and it looks like their hopes are being realised.

The largest US bookstore chain Barnes & Noble says that Watchman set a one-day sales record for adult fiction.

It did not reveal the exact numbers but said the total includes digital and print orders.

It expects the book to be its biggest-selling title this year.

In the UK Go Set a Watchman sold more than 105,000 copies on its first day of release.

This covers both print and digital sales.

That is impressive, but it pales beside the 2,652,656 copies that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sold in just one day in 2007.

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