Australian National Accounts – the fragility of growth increases

The – March-quarter 2015 National Accounts data – released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today confirms that the Australian economy was stuck in a weak growth state in the last three months of 2014. Real GDP growth grew by by a 0.9 per cent in the March-quarter 2015. The annual growth rate of 2.3 per cent down from 2.5 per cent in the December-quarter, and still well below trend. But the March-quarter result is stronger than the last 3 quarters. One should not be optimistic about the future though. Australia is now firmly caught up in what we call an ‘income recession’ where the total market value of goods and services (GDP) is outpacing the flow that Australian residents enjoy as income. Real net national disposable income fell by 0.2 per cent over the last year. While private consumption growth remained positive, it is not being driven by wages growth (which have fallen overall in the last year). Rather, the savings ratio fell and indebtedness in on the increase – signs of trends that ultimately led to the GFC> Further, despite corporate profits rising, private investment growth was negative. With the fiscal position now leaning towards austerity, today’s data paints a fairly uncertain picture for the Australian economy for the remainder of this year. Now is not the time for fiscal retrenchment. With real GDP growth well below that needed to reduce unemployment and underemployment, the government needs to stimulate the economy to boost income and employment growth. This would also allow wages to grow and take the squeeze off households.

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