March 4 (Reuters) - Australia posted worse-than-expected GDP numbers for the last quarter of 2008 on Wednesday, putting the economy on the brink of recession.
Australia has so far managed to avoid falling into the global slump that has hit its nine out of its 13 top trade partners, with the risk of negative growth lessened by an A$10.4 billion ($6.7 billion) economic stimulus package unveiled on Oct. 14, and aggressive rate cuts from the central bank.
(For related story see [ID:nSYD382924])
Here are some countries which analysts have tipped as likely to fall into recession in 2009 as backward-looking quarterly gross domestic product (GDP) figures confirm their downturns. For a list of countries already in recession, see [ID:nSP399176]
WHY: The government expects growth to slow to 0.75 percent in the 2009/10 fiscal year. Nine of Australia’s top 13 trading partners are in recession, including the top export market Japan.
While other developed economies tumbled, Australia had escaped recession in part because of the economic boost its from number one trade partner China, whose own growth is now slowing.
Q3 GDP reported in December showed minimal 0.1 percent growth. Q4 GDP reported in March showed a -0.5 percent decline.
Most economists consider the country to be already in recession, even if the technical definition is not met. After years of averaging 4 percent growth, the government slashed its financial year forecast to 0.75 percent growth, down from a May 2008 forecast of 3.0 percent growth.
WHEN: GDP figures for Q1, the next possible time for two successive quarters of contraction, are due in early June.
LAST RECESSION: 1991-1992 FRANCE
WHY: Minimal third quarter growth saved the Eurozone’s second-largest economy from tipping into recession last year, as France’s GDP seesawed between positive and negative across the four quarters — from 0.4 to -0.3, 0.1, and finally -1.2 in Q4.
First quarter 2009 GDP is expected to shrink by 0.4 percent, state statistics agency INSEE said in December, putting the country in recession after Q4’s negative numbers.
The agency said GDP could still decline by 0.1 percent in 2009’s second quarter, making a nine-month long contraction, and that the year could see negative growth as a whole.
WHEN: Q1 GDP is due on May 15.
LAST RECESSION: Between Q4 1992 (-0.5 pct) and Q1 1993 (-0.7 pct). Q2 1993 showed 0.0 pct growth.
WHY: The last three months of 2008 saw poor economic performance, particularly in exports and factory output. In late February Q4 GDP was reported at -0.5 percent.
Most economists don’t give estimates for quarterly GDP as it is seen as very volatile, but a 0.2 percent contraction has been forecast by the Bank of Israel for 2009, mainly due to an expected plunge in exports, which make up 45 percent of gross domestic product.[ID:nL2437093]
In early February the finance minister said Israel’s economy may already be in a recession.
WHEN: Q1 GDP is due on May 24.
LAST RECESSION: 2001-2003
WHY: South Korea’s economy suffered its second-biggest contraction on record in the final quarter of 2008, pushing it towards its first recession since the Asian financial crisis.
Gross domestic product in Asia’s fourth-largest economy fell a seasonally adjusted 5.6 percent in the fourth quarter, more than twice as much as economists had expected. [ID:nLM248933]
Asia’s fourth-largest economy might already be in recession, South Korea’s top state-run agency the Korea Development Institute (KDI) said on Feb 5, as the global downturn sapped both domestic demand and its economic mainstay, exports.
WHEN: Q1 GDP is due the 4th week of April. There are no predictions for it yet.
WHY: Fourth-quarter GDP crashed 6.1 percent, the country’s biggest-ever economic contraction. Q1 GDP is also expected to shrink, confirming Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy behind Indonesia has plunged into technical recession.
The Q4 contraction, due largely to a collapse in exports because of the global economic crisis, was exacerbated by domestic political unrest that depressed private investment and consumption, and scared away tourists.
Thailand’s state planning agency expects zero growth at best this year, and has said the economy could shrink by as much as 1.0 percent.
WHEN: Q1 GDP figures due May 25
Compiled by Gillian Murdoch, reporting by Anna Willard and James Mackenzie in Paris, James Grubel and Wayne Cole in Canberra, Tova Cohen in Tel Aviv, Alan Raybould in Bangkok, and Jonathan Thatcher in Seoul; Editing by Kim Coghill