After the honeymoon on fiscal reporting by the Ardern Coalition Government, news this week provided a sobering correction.
Radio New Zealand reported that the current account deficit for the year to September was $10.5 billion, up from $9.5 B in June.
The current account takes in the difference between what NZ earns and spends internationally – and the figure was the highest deficit for nine years.
Radio NZ said the figure amounted to 3.6% of the value of the economy from 3.3% in the June quarter, and the biggest in five years.
This was caused by a big fall in the surplus on trade and services, while foreign investors earned more from their New Zealand investments.
“The $2.2 B fall in the goods and services surplus between 2017 and 2018 was the largest contributor to the wider current account deficit for the September 2018 year,” said Statistics New Zealand’s senior manager Peter Dolan.
On a quarterly basis, the actual current account for the September quarter was a deficit of $6.15 B, compared with a deficit of $1.6 B in the previous quarter of last year.
However, Radio NZ said, on a seasonally adjusted basis - which smooths out one-off events and influences - there was a slightly smaller quarterly deficit of $2.6 B.
The balance of payments broadly measured the country's ability to pay its way in the world and how much it needed to borrow.
Westpac senior economist Michael Gordon told Radio NZ the numbers were largely in line with expectations.
“While the current account deficit has widened in recent years, it remains within a sustainable range.”
Credit rating agencies watch deficits as a sign of an economy's indebtedness.
The net deficit of the economy's investment liabilities - the difference between what NZ has invested overseas and what foreign investors own in the country - remains near its lowest level in nearly 20 years.