However, this dynamic is about to change, at least for a while, and for a rather unexpected reason.
The coal spot price has essentially exploded, to US$213/tonne (the average Australian export price back in the March quarter was just $81/tonne).
Peter Ker of the AFR reported that the prices for coking coal exports to Japan would rip 117 per cent higher in just three months, potentially increasing national income by 2 per cent and delivering a rip-snorting $7 billion budget revenue windfall if prevailing prices were to persist for a year.
Note here that budget documents were previously projecting a deficit of only $5.9 billion in 2019/20, so that deficit could feasibly be completely seen off in the forthcoming mid-year forecasts.
It was reported today that FOB values for Australian coking coal have now tripled since the beginning of the year from $76.45/mt to an outlandish $231/mt on perennial Chinese coal shortages.
As noted here previously a number of Australian coal mining companies have seen their share prices multi-bagged in 2016.
In the event of a doubling of coal export values - and assuming the LNG price holds up as export volumes increase by 40 per cent over the next year - other things being equal, there's a fair chance that the trade deficit could flip back to surplus, at least temporarily.
I wouldn't necessarily expect to see this confirmed in the trade figures any time soon, with export values initially reported based upon estimates that are unlikely to be as high as those quoted above.
New highs for national income
Businesses struggled, and unemployment increased. Rudd deserves credit for his timely stimulus packages.
I guess the thing with figures about the economy is that you can always and everywhere find a weak point to highlight, even when the economy has held up much better than almost everyone expected.
It's all in the marketing and spin, really.
After all, steadying national income isn't all that surprising when you look at the preceding boom which ran for fully 17 years from 1991 to 2008 and saw real national income doubling.
The national accounts also show that gross household income increased by more than 3 per cent in FY2016, well ahead of the rate of inflation.