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New Zealand GDP drops 0.6% in December quarter, worse than expected

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New Zealand’s economy is shrinking, with gross domestic product down 0.6% last quarter, amid speculation a recession may be approaching.Gross domestic product (GDP) fell 0.6% in the last three months of 2022, after a 1.7% rise in the September 2022 quarter.

The drop at the close of the year was larger than predicted by any of New Zealand’s major banks. Annually, GDP is still growing – up 2.4% year on year, and despite the shrinking economy, unemployment remains close to record lows, at about 3.3%.Responding to the figures, the finance minister, Grant Robertson, said: “2023 was always going to be a challenging year.

The global economy is volatile and still recovering from Covid impacts.“While GDP is likely to move around a bit as we continue to recover from Covid, our economy is nearly 6.7% bigger than before the start of the pandemic, ahead of most countries we compare ourselves with.”The downturn in GDP has outstripped predictions by the reserve bank and major private banks, and if the second quarter of 2023 also records a decrease, it would mean New Zealand is about six months into a recession.

To be considered “in recession”, it has to record negative GDP growth for two consecutive quarters.Since late 2022, the reserve bank has been taking steps to engineer a “shallow recession” in response to high inflation rates, and has successively raised the official cash rate, making borrowing more expensive in an attempt to curb household spending.

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