Australia – GDP growth heads towards zero – then recession if there is no policy shift

Today (June 5, 2024), the Australian Bureau of Statistics released the latest – Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product, March 2024 – which shows that the Australian economy grew by just 0.1 per cent in the March-quarter 2024 and by 1.1 per cent over the 12 months (down from 1.5 per cent). If we extend the March result out over the year then GDP will grow by 0.4 per cent, well below the rate required to keep unemployment from rising. GDP per capita fell for the fifth consecutive quarter and was 1.3 per cent down over the year. This is a rough measure of how far material living standards have declined but if we factor the unequal distribution of income, which is getting worse, then the last 12 months have been very harsh for the bottom end of the distribution. Household consumption expenditure was stable but only because the saving ratio fell further. There is now a very real possibility that Australia will enter recession in the coming year unless there is a change of policy direction. Both fiscal and monetary policy are squeezing household expenditure and the contribution of direct government spending, while positive, will not be sufficient to fill the expanding non-government spending gap. At the current growth rate, unemployment will rise. And that will be a deliberate act from our policy makers.

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