What a lovely recession we’re having. Or not having.
This morning’s GDP numbers were supposed to reveal the recession was a close run thing, with only a handful of flat-screen TVs and school gyms keeping the economy going in the right direction.
But 0.6 per cent growth in one quarter would be pretty tidy in a normal year, let alone the year after the greatest global financial meltdown in generations.
It’s now almost certain that Australia is through the worst of it and, having evaded official recession, is now firmly embracing that other R word - recovery.
There are potential time bombs that could disrupt out little party, particularly the effect of still-rising unemployment, wobbles in the Chinese recovery and the fact that hundreds of billions of dollars of debt and toxic assets are yet to be purged from the global financial system.
But if Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens is thinking about putting up interest rates, and Gerry Harvey, who’s probably tapped into the Australian wallet better than most, reckons the economy is getting “stronger and stronger each day”, then things must be all right.
In fact, the June quarter, reflected in this morning’s GDP figures, was a ripper for most Australians, provided you weren’t a Storm Financial client or one of the unfortunates who lost their jobs during the great corporate panic at the end of last year.
Stimulus cheques flowed, mortgages rates were their lowest for four decades, petrol prices remained below the peaks of last year and the stock market added another 10 per cent. If that’s a recession, then more of it, I say.
We may not be out of the woods yet but we’re a lot closer to that clearing that any other developed nation on the planet. While we were spending our to 0.6 per cent economic growth in the June quarter, the US went backwards 3.9 per cent, Britain fell 5.5 per cent, Germany shrank 5.9 per cent and poor Japan slumped 6.4 per cent. China, our light on the hill, rose 7.9 per cent.
There are still potholes on the path out of the forest – the cash stimulus was a one-off sugar hit, and don’t expect the stock market to continue its remorseless rise without a few corrections – but if you’ve made it this far unscathed you’ll probably survive the GFC.
Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan will claim a lot of the credit. But take a bow citizens for just getting on with it, in the Australian way. And remember, it was your $43 billion the generous government gave you to play with.
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