Better-than-expected GDP data released this week shows there has been a V-shaped recovery in SA’s growth rate, but the pandemic has still put the economy back five years.According to Stats SA, real GDP sprang back from the R652bn recorded in the second quarter of 2020 (when lockdown restrictions were at their most stringent) to R761bn in the first quarter of this year.Though a sharp rebound, this is still only more or less equivalent to what the economy was producing in the first quarter of 2016. In other words, the pandemic has knocked it back to the size it was five years ago. The economy is widely expected to surpass its previous peak only during the second half of 2022.Even so, it did well to shrug off restrictions related to the second virus wave, growing by an annualised 4.6% quarter on quarter (q/q) in the first quarter, or –3.2% year on year (y/y). Though this was slower than SA’s cracking fourth-quarter 2020 performance of a revised 5.8% q/q, it still exceeded expectati...

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