The economic challenge New Zealand faces has finally started to come into focus.
The good news is that the downturn this year is less severe than expected.
The bad news is that a real economic recovery – back to pre-Covid levels - will take longer than we hoped.
For example, economists now think unemployment won't rise to double-digit percentages.
But many fear it will stay above six per cent for years.
Unemployment seems the most meaningful way to measure things. Not least because it most brutally impacts people's lives. But also because GDP movements have been so wild they are near useless.
That's made the word recession meaningless – at least if we stick to the technical definition (two consecutive quarters of contraction).
GDP plunged so far during lockdown, then pent-up demand was released so suddenly, that in technical terms we are already out of recession.
We're currently in what some call a "sugar rush".
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People are off around the country for the school holidays, they are getting out to favourite restaurants, they're investing in home improvements.
Our elimination success meant the sugar rush hit sooner and harder.
This is good news for everyone ... with the possible exception of Opposition political parties.
New Zealand's domestic economy is too small to sustain strong economic growth with borders closed or without a strong global economy driving export demand.
So the sugar rush can't last forever.
Although, with Government stimulus and super-low interest rates, it can last a few more months.
That will send the electorate into the polling booths with a sense the economy has outperformed - albeit from low expectations.
But whoever wins in September will face a much bigger economic challenge in her second term.
Ok, sorry - things move fast post-Covid - I won't yet rule out the possibility that the next PM could be male.
National's strategy of pushing to open up the border faster probably looked pretty good last month.
The reasons for not moving could be pinned on local quarantine failures – the Government's fault by proxy.
But the pandemic got worse. As parts of Victoria head back into lockdown, the focus for New Zealanders has swung back to safety.
That's more fair wind for the Government.
The border issue will be back.
Work like the report by Sir Peter Gluckman, Rob Fyfe and Helen Clark ( Re-engaging New Zealand with the world ) is important.
I hope and expect the Government is working quietly on similar strategies.
What if there is no vaccine and the rest of the world opens up and carries on despite the virus?
New Zealanders face a big debate about collective risk appetite in the coming months and years.
But the public appetite to confront that now, with the virus still raging, is not high.
I'd hope we use processes put in place to manage the current wave of returning Kiwis, to carefully open borders to other key people in good time.
Right now, though, the economic costs of another lockdown outweigh the benefits of looser borders.
Add the obvious public health risks to that equation and the logic for urgency starts to fade pretty fast.
I don't think we should let the border debate overshadow the basic structural problem our economy faces.
We've basically had three drivers of economic growth in the past decade.
We added more cows, we added more tourists and we added more residents.
None of these three is coming to the rescue this time.
Dairy expansion is at environmental limits.
Tourism and immigration were already pushing the limits of our infrastructure.
It would be great to get them both back, but even if borders opened tomorrow, the world has changed. Their potential to drive new growth is gone.
So what next?
Is it value-added foods? Is it a southern hemisphere tech hub? Is it film and creative arts?
There are many areas with potential. In fact, we've been talking about them for years.
Will the crisis force us to finally act?
One of the most heartening things about my job in the past few weeks has been talking to small and medium-sized business people (there's a podcast coming later this month) about how they confronted the Covid challenge.
I've talked to people who changed strategy – or in some cases - reinvented their companies - in just days and weeks.
A reoccurring theme has been that they were forced to move rapidly on issues they knew that had to do confront eventually.
Without the urgency of a crisis, they'd been content to keep thinking about big tech upgrades and new growth strategies with an assumption these involve months of planning.
Implementation was something for next year or the year after.
When Covid hit, revenue plunged and they faced a choice between shutting down or acting fast.
Across the board, it's incredible what New Zealand's business people have had to do in the past few months.
They can't all be success stories. Many have faced circumstances that are just too brutal.
But many more have surprised themselves and now see pathways to survive.
This is the energy the economy needs to harness to thrive in the next decade.
This is what the next Government needs to foster and translate into policy.
And this is the kind of dexterity with which the next Government needs to think.