Editor's note

Australia’s economy is capable of growing at a sustained rate of nearly 3%. That means the growth rate for the financial year just ended - 1.4% - is only half what it should be.

The last time the Australian economy performed so feebly relative to its potential was during the global financial crisis, and the time before that was when Australia was entering and recovering from a recession.

This morning I examine what went wrong and the options treasurer Josh Frydenberg has for fixing it. To date he has been keen to wait, and hope the interest rate cuts in June and July and the tax cuts delivered from July spark spending and investment.

Consumer spending accounts for more than half of the economy, and it is about as weak as it has ever been. Abstracting from population growth, Australian households are buying no more than they were a year ago.

Intriguingly, he has indicated he is considering tightening his written contract with the Reserve Bank to require it to more aggressively adjust rates, which in the current context would mean more aggressively cutting rates.

Peter Martin

Section Editor, Business and Economy

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