In a blog post earlier this year I asked whether emerging economies had been lucky or smart. I also suggested that one way to start answering this question was to look at their performance during the major stress test provided by the global financial crisis.
Of course, it's possible to ask much the same question about Australia's economic performance. Is our incredible run of more than 21 years of economic growth the result of good policy or just a product of good luck? In an essay for the new issue of Pacific Standard magazine, I suggest that there are two ways of thinking about Australia's relative economic performance over the past couple of decades.
First, there is the 'Australian model' approach. This view says that Australia offers a good example to the rest of the world of how to thrive in turbulent global economy. Then there's the alternative interpretation which says that Australia has done little more than ride its luck and a temporary (but very large) boom in global commodity markets. Eventually and inevitably, the boom and the luck will run out. You could call this view the Australian bubble.
My essay looks at which view is closer to the truth. Given the popular stereotype about economists, you probably aren't going to be surprised to learn that I end up giving some credit both to good policy and to good luck. However, I also take some comfort from the fact that we have survived three major economic and financial stress tests in our recent history. To me, that suggests we must be doing something right.
Photo by Flickr user tarotastic.