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Australian national accounts – growth 3 months ago but no guide to current situation

Time series data is somewhat difficult to use at present because of the dramatic impact the pandemic (and the lockdowns) has had on behaviour. It is difficult to conduct precise statistical work that spans this period and in the future, econometricians like me will have to use special techniques to isolate these observations if we are to get anything meaningful from the data over longer horizons into the future. National accounts data is also fraught at the best of times because of the lags in collection and publication. It tells us where we were three months ago and three months before that. So while today’s data release from the Australian Bureau of Statistics of the – Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product, June 2021 (released September 1, 2021) – shows that the Australian economy grew by 0.7 per cent in the March-quarter after growing by 1.9 per cent in the March-quarter 2021. The annual growth rate of 9.6 per cent is relatively meaningless given the base effect noted above. Household consumption growth is positive but subdued. Business investment while positive has tapered somewhat. The external sector undermined growth as exports fell sharply. The public sector contributed 0.7 points to growth, which means that without that fiscal support (at both federal and state level), there would have been zero growth. With the NSW and Victorian economies now enduring a long lockdowns the next quarter will record negative growth and there is clearly a need for increased fiscal support.

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