Coronavirus: Cash payments to all Kiwis an option to boost economy - Grant Robertson

coronavirus 23/04/2020

Finance Minister Grant Robertson has hinted at potential 'helicopter money' in this year's Budget, to get the economy moving again after the level 4 lockdown.

With tax cuts ruled out, Robertson said the Government is looking at other ways to get people - many who have lost their jobs or had pay cuts - spending again.

Helicopter money, a term coined by prominent economist Milton Friedman in the 1960s, is literally giving money away. The hope is people will spend it, boosting the economy.

Economist Shamubeel Eaqub suggested last year - before the COVID-19 pandemic hit - if directed at the poor,it could work.

"Literally just cash out to poor people," Eaqub told The AM Show.

If you give poor people money, they will spend it.

Infometrics economist Brad Olsen told Stuff earlier this month helicopter money would be useless in the immediate aftermath of the level 4 lockdown, as people would remain cautious about spending. But once cinemas and cafes were open, and travel restrictions lifted, he said it could encourage people to spend on non-essentials again. 

The Budget is due to be delivered in mid-May. Robertson said even if there weren't direct payments, there would "absolutely" be more spending than in previous years.