Why New Zealand is beating Australia in the race that no-one wants to win — to a full-blown recession
It takes around three hours and 10 minutes to cross the Ditch — the 2,225 kilometre stretch of the Tasman Sea that separates Sydney and Wellington.
But when it comes to interest rate policy, the distance between the two cities has been growing ever wider for the past year.
Where Australia is delicately attempting to navigate what RBA kahuna Phil Lowe describes as "the narrow path to a soft landing", his Kiwi counterpart Adrian Orr appears hell-bent on sending his economy into a tailspin and a fiery crash.
The stark difference in battle tactics in the war against inflation between Martin Place and The Terrace was on full display last week.
While the Reserve Bank of Australia called a halt in rate hikes — leaving the cash rate at 3.6 per cent — the Kiwis doubled down, literally, with a double rate hike of 0.5 percentage points to 5.25 per cent.
New Zealand was one of the first central banks to begin raising interest rates when the inflation bogey man first made an appearance.
Despite engineering a dramatic property market slump — values are off 20 per cent in Wellington — it has refused to back off. As far back as last November, it set the controls for an economic crash: predicting a recession in the second half of this year. 
That goal looks like arriving early. A few weeks back, the December quarter GDP numbers revealed an unexpected contraction of 0.6 per cent, way worse than the anticipated 0.7 per cent growth. Another downturn in the March quarter will see New Zealand become a global leader for all the wrong reasons.
On this side of the Tasman, meanwhile, there is a growing consensus that our interest rates have peaked — at least for a while.
Much will depend upon the next set of inflation numbers — the March quarter results, due in a fortnight. But, if recent trends are any indication, there should be a further decline in the speed of price rises. If so, that will allow the RBA to hold tight for a little while longer.
Money markets last week pencilled in a 100 per cent chance of a hold on Australian interest rates — a dead certainty. So, the decision didn't come as a surprise.
The shock, however, was in the statement accompanying the decision. After almost a year of doggedly pursuing the quickest rate hiking program in history — and damn the consequences — the April statement was notable for the sudden reversal of rhetoric.
Where previously the statement contained declarations about the relentless determination to stifle inflation, this one had a far more humane tone.
 A prominent economist now puts the risk of recession at 50 per cent, as households face the prospect of making substantial spending cuts.
Rents and power prices were rising at their fastest pace in years, it noted, and "while some households have substantial buffers, others are experiencing a painful squeeze on their finances".
This was the first time the RBA acknowledged the pain it was inflicting on the nation, most of which has been borne by younger Australians who either are renting or have recently become first-home buyers.
Before you mistakenly believe the RBA has gone soft — or that the governor is belatedly reacting to the stream of negative press he copped for urging youngsters to take out mortgages during the pandemic — think again.
Rather, the RBA is well aware the nation's economy is on a knife edge.
While we may not have raised rates as high as other countries, Australian interest rate hikes are far more potent than almost anywhere else.
At 3.6 per cent, the Australian cash rate sits well below that of many other developed countries, including our Kiwi cousins. In fact, New Zealand is vying for rates race leader with its latest supersized hike.
And yet, as the below graph shows, the mortgage rises faced by Australians have been amongst the fastest in the world.
Why? Because our home loans overwhelmingly are set at variable rates. Even our fixed rate loans are for relatively short terms.
In New Zealand, most home loans are set at fixed rates for a long time. In the US, they're mostly fixed for the entire term of the loan, often 30 years. That's why it isn't even on this comparison graph.
What that means is that interest rate decisions have a far greater impact on household spending here than just about anywhere else in the world. That's important because household spending is the biggest component in measuring economic growth.
And there's another crucial element. For a brief time during the pandemic, there was a rush for dirt cheap, fixed rate home loans.
According to research from David Bassanese, of BetaShares, the Australian curve in the graph above will steepen much further as those loans roll off into much more expensive variable rate home loans this year, adding the equivalent of five rate hikes.
Around 880,000 households will see their monthly mortgage repayments double and, in some cases, treble.
Maybe Phil Lowe was a fan of the ABC's Live And Sweaty program, the brainchild of comedian Andrew Denton.
Back in 1992, shortly before the Barcelona Olympics, Denton penned an anthem for Australian competitors and fans.
Titled, "I Don't Care As Long As We Beat New Zealand", the song peaked at 38 on the charts and even won an ARIA award.
For the dig last week was unmistakeable. When asked about the prospects of a recession, the RBA governor couldn't help but deliver a little backhand swipe.
After 10 consecutive rises, the Reserve Bank has pumped the brakes on interest rates — much to the relief of mortgage borrowers and Lifeline.
"Other countries", he said, were prepared to squander the benefits of the lowest unemployment rates in almost a decade by pushing too hard on the monetary policy brakes.
The subtle message: He's prepared to put up with a touch higher inflation for a little longer if it keeps people in a job.
The reality, however, is that he has no choice. Our greater sensitivity to interest rate changes means that from now on, the RBA needs to be far more careful than any other central bank in the world.
We were the first major economy to scale back on supersized hikes, we have become the first to pause on lifting rates and we may well become the first to cut rates once the economy starts heading south.
Already, the warning signs are flashing orange.
As it predicted last year, and confirmed in Thursday's Financial Stability Review, around 15 per cent of Australian households are now in serious financial strife.
The punishing series of rate hikes in the past year has already stripped them of all their spare cash — to the point that their income isn't enough to cover the mortgage and household necessities, like food.
That's easy. Ramp up immigration just, as we're doing now, and just as New Zealand is doing. Although, it doesn't really stave off a recession. It simply makes it appear as if we've avoided one.
More people, by definition, makes the economy look as if it is growing. But it won't help those who can't pay the bills or who can't refinance because housing values have plummeted.
It most certainly will make the rental crisis even worse and will probably add pressure to the employment market to keep wages in check, even as prices and interest rates soar.
So, while the overall economy may get bigger, the people within the economy are left worse off.
It's what is known as a per capita recession and it's highly likely that's where we'll be heading.
Mr Lowe batted away a question on the issue last week at his National Press Club speech. But he did admit that immigration was growing at 2 per cent while the economy was growing at just 1.5 per cent.
You do the numbers.
Given our trans-Tasman race towards recession, we could be inundated with a wave of Kiwi cousins later this year looking for better prospects, eh bro?
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