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Economy

John Edwards: What Australia can teach the economic doom-mongers

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U.S. Fed Chair Janet Yellen (foreground, left) looks on as Australia's Treasurer Joe Hockey (on screen) speaks during the start of the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting in the northern Australian city of Cairns, in this handout picture supplied by G20 Australia on September 20.   © Reuters

Australia's economy is now in its 24th year of continuous expansion, but a growing number of analysts believe its prospects of reaching a quarter century of unbroken prosperity are in jeopardy. Weaker mining investment, tumbling iron ore prices, slow jobs growth, lackluster production numbers and an intractable political dispute over the fiscal deficit all seem to support a gloomy prognosis that Australia's decade-long mining-led boom is over. When the reckoning is presented, some local economists and visiting commentators warn, Australians will be shocked by grim reality.

     The bad news comes at an awkward time for Australia's political leaders, who are preparing to host a summit of leaders of the Group of 20 major global economies in Brisbane in November. Their authority to speak on global economic issues depends not on Australia's size but on its record run of well-managed prosperity. Australia wants each leader to sign up to policy changes intended to add an extra 2% to each country's output over five years. If the Australian economy is itself fading, other leaders might well suggest that Australia minds its own business, and lets others mind theirs.

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