Statistics SA released the quarterly Gross Domestic Product figures today. GDP has dropped by 6.4 percent! GDP is 'a basic measure of an economy's economic performance, [it] is the market value of all final goods and services produced within the borders of a nation in a year'. As such it is an indicator of how the economy is doing and is a very important indication of what the government might do to manage the economy next. This drop means we are in a recession. So what do these figures mean?
There has been some speculation that we are heading into a recession and these figures confirm that we have. Recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction rather than growth. In a growth model based economy, contraction, recession and depression are the voodoo words of economic collapse. A growth based rather than sustainable economy will always be worried by lack of growth as many loans are based on the fact that the economy is expected to continue to grow. So in a growth based economy, and the government has signalled that it wants to follow a developmental model, we can expect the government to react to these figures by trying to boost the economy.
One of the methods that the Government has mandated is the Reserve Bank policy of inflation targeting. This is basically an interest rate strategy and we can expect the MPC (Monetary Policy Committee) to cut rates on Thursday 28th May 2009. The announcement will be broadcast live on SABC 3 from 15:00 to 15:30. The fact is we are in a recession and planning your budget has never been more important. Sound personal finance planning now will see you through the lean times ahead until the cycle turns and a new boom market is created. Of course in a growth model economy we will always have a cycle of boom and bust. So with no real change expected there, protect yourself now to survive the economic waves later.