Remember the old days of the "two-speed economy"? Julia Gillard was prime minister, Wayne Swan was treasurer, and Western Australia (especially) and Queensland were blasting along with the greatest mining investment boom ever seen in Australia, while the rest of us struggled with a dollar above parity and a vast suction effect as workers were pulled into mining construction and services. Well, that was the narrative at the time, and it was a little true.
Now we have a real two-speed economy. We've had it for some time, but yesterday's national accounts confirm it. The split is not geographical; it's between households and corporations. Profits are strong, export revenue is strong, non-mining investment is growing and the end of the decline of mining investment is in sight. In the March quarter, business even enjoyed a turnaround from the recent (small) decline in labour productivity. It's silly to describe Australia as has "defying world trends" as one commentator did, given in April the IMF declared the world was enjoying a "broader" and "stronger" "global economic upswing" and global growth was forecast at 3.9% this year. But there's no doubting the strength of the result of 1% quarterly growth, fueled by a 3.3% rise in the terms of trade (the strongest for a year), a 1.9% rise in real net national disposable income and a year-high in company profits.