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The Reserve Bank’s quarterly bulletin makes for grim reading, painting a bleak picture of the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown on the economy, which led to a collapse in household spending more than double that seen during the financial crisis a decade ago.

Real final consumption expenditure by households contracted 5.4% in 2020, the March bulletin released on Tuesday shows. This was more than the contraction in 2009 and compared with a 1% increase in 2019. The drop compares with average increases of 3.2% per annum over the previous 20 years...

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