Friday, 17 August 2007

The successful Mr Ha

A lot of commentators spent a lot of yesterday talking about the "sub-prime" mortgage market in America and about "loan sharking" here in NZ, and (at least on Radio New Zealand) promoting restrictions on borrowing "especially among immigrant communities." According to this patronising view, "members of immigrant communities" -- that is, individuals who have the gumption to move to New Zealand seeking a better life for themselves and their families -- are just too dumb to understand all the complicated stuff about interest and repayments and the like.

Following this patronising line to its logical conclusion, the all-too-dumb Judith Tizard has has now revealed the Clark Government plans to "deal with" loans sharks by restricting the activities of finance companies in immigrant areas.

I thought of that patronising advice and those restrictive plans as I read the story of Don Ha in NBR's Rich List this morning, a man who came to NZ in 198o from Vietnam penniless (presumably landing first in the Mangere immigration hostel up the road from where I was in 1980) and who is now worth $60 million. Tizard's restrictions on lending to immigrants would not have helped Mr Ha, who I feel confident knows his way around a balance sheet far better than Ms Tizard and any of her colleagues working on her plans would.

The irony is too much for me. People like Tizard with a barely functioning brain suggest that immigrants (of which Mr Ha is the supreme example) are too dumb to be allowed out in finance houses on their own. Perhaps I might suggest that she and her fellow nannies could think of people like Don Ha next time they feel like offering their opinion on the abilities of immigrants. The Herald has a brief account of Ha's career in its report on the Rich List:
The self-made-man model is alive and well in the form of 38-year-old Manukau real estate magnate Don Ha, who comes in at 143rd equal overall with his financial worth estimated at $60 million.Not bad for a Vietnamese refugee who was just a kid when he arrived in New Zealand in 1980 with his penniless family.The family opened a string of bakeries in South Auckland but Mr Ha went his own way, importing shoes and belts from Asia, only beginning his real estate career in 1994. Mr Ha became a top salesman in the Professionals Group, selling 86 properties in his first year.

He was headhunted by the Ray White Group in 2004 and now owns Ray White Manukau, which has subsequently achieved record-breaking sales. Mr Ha shelled out $2 million on a Zabeel colt from champion racemare Sunline at the Karaka yearling sales in January.

More on the Rich List and the very smart Mr Ha here at the Herald. And you can see Mr Ha and the Rich List's editor being interviewed this morning on the ASB Business News at this TVNZ link.


  1. I don't know what you're concerned about, PC. Judith Tizard nnouncing that she will announce plans to deal to something is Jim Hackeresque-speak for never doing anything, ever.

    I nominate Judith Tizard as Labour's best-performing minister. It is precisely her qualities of laziness, incompetence, and stupidity than ensure that she never does any damage.

  2. Yes, you're probably right, IP, and I enthusiastically second your nomination.

    If only there was a cabinet full of ministers as lazy as her. We could wake up in the morning not having to wonder abuot what new insanity had been inflicted upon us overnight.

  3. I recently heard about a parallel constraint on lending which existed in New Zealand about 100 years ago. The government set a maximum interest rate on loans in New Zealanders. This rate was low enough to eliminate private lenders from the market. As a result the government of the day set up what I think was called the New Zealand Finance Corporation, which stepped in to replace the lenders forced from the market by the cap on interest.

    A nice example of regulation begetting regulation. Perhaps what Labour intends nationalising next.

  4. There is no such thing as a loan shark - who else will carry the risk?

    The real sharks are people like Petricevic and that snake from Kidicorp. I'd steer well clear of anything he is involved in.

  5. When a person buys a car for 7,000 and ends up paying another 14,000 in interest there is a problem.
    However, the problem should be solved by basic education about finance not by regulation. It's all very well promoting but obviously a person who blunders into such loans won't have broadband.

    It's not as if the chattering class kiwis are more financially literate either given the investments in Petricevic. What do we expect from a lazy unproductive Ponzi economy?

  6. When a person buys a car for 7,000 and ends up paying another 14,000 in interest there is a problem.

    How so? There is no problem if there is full disclosure.

    It's not as if the chattering class kiwis are more financially literate either given the investments in Petricevic.

    The 'chattering classes' didn't know about the investments and related party lending of Petricevic's Bridgecorp. That doesn't make them financially illiterate.

    "Loan sharks" are providing a much needed service to those who would otherwise not be able to borrow and should be left alone.


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