Much has been written recently about the economy having entered recession this year, which was apparently a surprise to some observers. Yet those who follow the SA Reserve Bank — the institution tasked with dating our recessions — would know that we have been in recession since December 2013. While there were signs in the first quarter that the recession could be at an end, even then leading indicators of the business cycle were not unanimous in suggesting the start of an upswing. A recession is a period of sustained deceleration in economic activity across most sectors of an economy. Typically, recessions are characterised by an actual decline in output and sales, but they need not be. The key feature of a recession is its momentum — economic activity continually weakens or remains weak. This is why the Bank already identified the current recession as having started at the end of 2013.

The SA business cycle has passed through a decade of unfamiliar territory. We exited the po...

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