How this country has gone 25 years without a recession

G20: The divide between energy and commodity producers
G20: The divide between energy and commodity producers

The last time Australia experienced a recession, Miley Cyrus hadn't been born and the Soviet Union was still intact.

Since the second half of 1991, the country's economy has barely faltered, riding out the global financial crisis and other nasty shocks.

It kept growing at a steady clip in the April-June quarter of this year, official data showed Wednesday, extending its recession-free streak to a staggering 25 years.

No other advanced economy has managed to dodge a two-quarter dip -- the technical definition of a recession -- over the same period, according to International Monetary Fund data.

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For much of the past quarter century, Australia's resource-rich economy thrived on an epic commodities boom, powered mainly by China's seemingly insatiable appetite for raw materials.

"Australia's exceptional track record of 25 years of GDP growth without a recession has paralleled China's spectacular economic ascent," said Rajiv Biswas, chief Asia-Pacific economist at IHS Markit.

australia min wage

But Australia can't rely on digging things out of the ground and shipping them off anymore. China's economy is now growing at its slowest pace in a quarter century, and commodity prices have collapsed from their peaks of a few years ago.

Investment in Australia's huge mining sector has slumped, but other areas like housing construction and consumer spending have helped pick up some of the slack, economists say.

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The country's central bank has played its part, slashing interest rates to a record low. The plunge in the Australian dollar has helped make exports more competitive and attract tourists from overseas.

The government has also lent a hand: In the latest quarter, growth was lifted by a sharp increase in public investment.

Despite some warnings about rising debt levels, Australia's economy isn't generally expected to slip up anytime soon.

"A recession in the next few years seems unlikely" unless there's a crash in China's economy or Australia's housing market, said Paul Dales, chief Australia and New Zealand economist at Capital Economics.

-- Matt Egan contributed reporting.

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