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New year brings new levels of optimism

The new year has brought with it a fresh surge in optimism, the latest BNZ confidence survey suggests.

The number of respondents who believe economic conditions will improve jumped from three to 13 percent compared to the last survey, despite concerns about the high dollar, compliance costs and consumers' reluctance to open their wallets.

The high New Zealand dollar has negatively affected education exports, the horticulture industry – already struggling with PSA-infected kiwifruit crops – and has caused mohair wool prices to fall.

It’s not just consumers who are choosing to forgo spending for saving; non-dairy farmers are choosing to reduce debt levels and the government has cut the public health budget for 2012.

Farmers’ efforts to reduce debt levels have resulted in an overall decrease in agriculture debt according to survey respondents. Dairy farmer respondents indicated a strengthening industry with record grass and milk production.

One dairy industry respondent said: “Never paid off so much debt in a year as in the last 12 months. Looking to buy another farm now.”