Back in the early 1980s Sir Robert Muldoon used to grump that it was "not a good time to be in Government" round the world because economies were in trouble. Now is also such a time. Or is there a silver lining?
Muldoon knew the political cost of a soggy economy: After a landslide win in 1975 his National Party scored fewer votes than Labour in 1978 and 1981, staying in office only by dint of quirks in the voting system.
By 1984 the economy was in such serious trouble - partly because he had administered the wrong medicine - that, rather than try to write a Budget, he called an early election, which he lost in a landslide.
Muldoon's fate was classic pocketbook politics. When the economy is down there is a greater likelihood a Government will be ousted than when it is up - all other things being equal. (Muldoon in fact added to his own problem by creating enemies with a pugnacious political style.)
He briefly returns to modern times, suggesting that uncertain economic times are likely to lead to power changes in the US, Canada and the UK, not to mention here in New Zealand. But he also closes, following an excellent history lesson, with a salutory message:
But there are still four weeks to election day. The world events of the past 10 days would make unconvincing fiction if they were not fact. This is a fast-moving bus and nobody knows the destination or how many people will be run over on the way.
There is possibly time yet for people to get really scared and the devil-you-know syndrome to kick in.
But for the moment the Muldoon syndrome is in operation: that it is not a good time to be in Government seeking re-election. It might also be not a good time for the Government after the election.