Economics provides us with frameworks for examining a wide variety of real life problems and issues, and tools to measure and assess what will happen under different circumstances.

What is macroeconomics?

Economics is often split into two disciplines: macroeconomics and microeconomics. NZIER offers expertise in both. Microeconomists study the decisions of people and firms; macroeconomists study the aggregate economy.

Macroeconomists see how all of the pieces of the economy fit together – firms, households, the government, trading partners – and distil the major economic trends that are going to affect the environment for firms and households. Our macroeconomists are thus well placed to offer strategic advice: if you want to know what parts of the economy are going well, what the medium or long term outlook and risks are, before you make an important investment decision, then we can help.

What's it all about?

There are two key themes that run through all macroeconomic work: first, the economy is driven by incentives and, secondly, the economy is defined by the tradeoffs we make.

The incentives that matter for macroeconomists are controlled by the government, through taxes and regulation, and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) through interest rates. Their decisions affect the level of saving, investment, consumption, trade and total economic activity.

When they make their decisions they need to weigh the short-term trade-off between inflation and unemployment. Those trade-offs and the nature of monetary and fiscal policy are discussed in more detail in later articles.

Where to find the data

Any economic forecasts and analyses are only as good as the information available. The best way to get a feel for what is going on in the economy is to keep abreast of current events and commentary. Luckily, in today’s world there is a lot of really good information available. The easiest sources are the newspapers like the Dominion Post and the New Zealand Herald. TV coverage, starting with the early morning business news, and the radio are also good sources of information.

Further information

To get more technical information about what is going on in the economy visit the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and Treasury websites. They both have freely available information:

Some of the publications NZIER find most useful are:

  • RBNZ’s quarterly monetary policy statement
  • RBNZ’s financial stability report
  • Treasury’s annual Budget (in May) and mid year Fiscal and Economic update (in December)
  • Treasury’s Monthly Economic Indicators.


For raw data go to Statistics NZ; most information is free to the user: www.stats.govt.nz