We know it has been an up-and-down ten years, with the SA economy going through massive cyclical gyrations.
But we are largely back where we started ten years ago, namely three years into a very slow cyclical take-off.
Comparing levels of today with levels of ten years ago could be a rough guide as to how much in the interim we have climbed (or fallen) in terms of demand and output.
The numbers are rather startling when comparing the percentage change in real activity from 2001 to 2011.
Real GDP, taken as indication of volume output, increased 42 percent. That's impressive until you realise it averages 3.5 percent annually (equal to our 90-year average GDP performance, not any better or worse).
But there is much drama in the detail.
Household consumption gained 50 percent, government consumption 60 percent and fixed investment a whopping 107 percent. Added up, and adding changes in inventories, total domestic demand increased by 60 percent (averaging 4.6 percent annually).
Why didn't all this demand growth translate into output gains, favouring our own producers also with an average 4.6 percent annual GDP gain?
Blame it on our lack of trade competitiveness, with real exports only gaining 19 percent and imports 92 percent over the decade.
You think only European peripherals are having trade competitiveness problems, not being able to hold a candle with Germany? Think again. We are also part of that gang, except that we don't have anyone breathing down our neck demanding us to do something about it.
Winners and laggards
When analysing the economy by sector we know we have winners and laggards. Who were they over the decade?
Construction has been the ultimate outperformer, gaining 110 percent in output over the decade, but stagnating already for the past three years. So all that lift came in the early seven years.
Financial services gained 72 percent in output, transport and communication 59 percent and retail, wholesale, motor and accommodation 44 percent. Those are impressive increases.
Government/community services added 37 percent, manufacturing and agriculture 25 percent. In contrast, mining did minus two percent.
So clearly mining and government aren't the saviours they are often held up to be, though mining can do much better if only there were less interference and much more infrastructure to support it.
Article continues on page two and three...: household consumption, total fixed investment, manufacturing, the JSE All Share Index, employment and conclusion...