COVID-19 pandemic helps plunge New Zealand into recession

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New Zealand plunged into recession for the first time in a decade Thursday.

National data agency Stats NZ say the 12.2 percent contraction in April-June was “by far the largest” since records began, national data agency Stats NZ said. The contraction coincided with the country’s move into a strict lockdown, which included closing the borders for almost two months due to COVID-19.

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand Prime Minister

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern rejected opposition accusations that the tough measures had pushed the economy “off a cliff”, saying the restrictions helped contain the virus, which allowed businesses to resume far earlier than in many other countries.

“Success for me is saving people’s lives, supporting and saving people’s businesses, coming out the other side (of the crisis) faster, quicker and with more activity,” she told reporters.

“I back our results.”

She said the economic pain of lockdown in the June quarter would be followed by a rebound in July-September, when virus-related restrictions were eased significantly.

The opposition National Party said the figures showed a change of government was needed because Ardern’s administration could not properly manage the economy or the pandemic response.

“It is now official that we are in the deepest recession in living memory and it’s proof that New Zealand needs a National-led government now that has a very clear plan,” National leader Judith Collins said.

New Zealand’s most recent recession was in 2008-09 and until the first three months of this year, it had recorded non-stop quarterly growth since 2010.

Ardern retains a strong lead in opinion polls and is expected to retain office, despite the ugly pre-election economic figures.  The election takes place in October.

The second-quarter decline follows a 1.6-percent contraction in the first three m

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