Should you be worried about a recession?

Marnie Banger

WHAT IS A RECESSION?

* A recession is technically classified as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth.

WHEN WAS AUSTRALIA'S LAST RECESSION?

* After stock markets crashed around the world in 1987, Australia entered the "recession we had to have", as then-treasurer Paul Keating infamously declared.

* It began in the September quarter of 1990 and finished in the September quarter of 1991.

WHAT DOES A RECESSION MEAN FOR YOU?

* Businesses are less likely to hire new workers and may lay some off during a recession, as their revenues and profits decline.

* In the aftermath of the last recession, the jobless rate hit 11.2 per cent (in December 1992). That compares to its current standing of 5.2 per cent.

* The situation can also mean lower incomes and people being less willing to spend the cash they have.

WHY ARE PEOPLE WORRIED A RECESSION MAY BE ON THE WAY?

* This week, the US bond yield curve "inverted" for the first time since 2007. The trend - when long-term bonds start earning less interest than short-term ones - has preceded every American recession in the past 50 years.

* The development prompted big stock market losses across the world. The Australian market shed more than $63 billion on Thursday, marking its worst day in 18 months.

WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF THE NEAR MISSES?

* Australia escaped a recession amid the Asian financial crisis between 1997 and 1999.

* The nation also avoided copying the United States' recession driven by the dot.com bubble burst in 2001.

* Australia was also relatively unscathed by the Global Finance Crisis that ran between mid-2007 and early 2009.

* Kevin Rudd's government in October 2008 promised a $10.4 billion stimulus package to defend the domestic economy from the global downturn. Australia's growth slowed significantly and fell in the December quarter of 2008, but nudged higher the following quarter.

WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT DOING NOW?

* The Morrison government believes its latest tax cuts and $100 billion worth of infrastructure funding over the coming decade will help keep the economy moving, as it deals with global challenges such as trade tensions between the US and China.