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Sep 8, 2012

The Kiwi Revolution: How New Zealand transformed itself

Sir Roger Douglas, the Finance Minister of New Zealand during the initial reforms.

I just watched a documentary about the economic reforms and the transformation of New Zealand from one of the most heavily regulated economies until 1984 to one of the freest economies in the world today.

New Zealand is one of the freest economies in the world making it a prime example of how free markets can make create competitive economies and prosperous societies. However, New Zealand didn't always use to be so. In fact, until 1984 it used to be a paradise of the welfare statists as it used to be one of the most heavily regulated economies among the advanced countries in the world. It was also among the first developed countries to introduce welfare programs when Labour government introduced welfare programs in 1930s.

By 1984, however, decades of heavy-handed state interference in the economy and excesses of Prime Minister Muldoon had taken its toll pushing the Kiwi economy to the brink of bankruptcy.

In an ironic twist of events, the Labour government that came to power in the 1984 elections initiated sweeping economic reforms towards a free economy. The reforms were pushed even further by Nationalist government that came into power in 1988 continued it until 1991 transforming New Zealand into what it is today. The reforms, no matter how beneficial, were very painful though. But I was very surprised by the way Kiwi people accepted the reforms and the way both National party and Labour party put aside their ideological agendas and pushed for reforms and even pushed further reforms initiated by the other party.

Here is the documentary in four parts in You Tube. It is a must watch for anyone interested in economic reforms and free market economics.

First episode: Fortress New Zealand

Second episode: The Grand Illusion

Third Episode: The Great Divide

Final episode: The New Country

Happy watching! By the way, what do you think about the economic transformation of New Zealand? Feel free to share your opinions in the comments.