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The worst of the global financial crisis is probably over but the economic pick-up will be slow, economists at one of Japan’s biggest financial services firms say.

“We’ve just been going through the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression and the greatest recession, probably, since then as well,” Paul Sheard, global chief economist at Nomura Securities International told a roundtable briefing in Sydney on Tuesday.

Dr Sheard said the global economy was still in recession but that the recession was “tapering off”, with growth expected to resume in the second half of 2009.

“We think the worst is over, both in terms of the economic downturn and the financial system near-collapse.”

The major economies would emerge from recession at different times, he said.

Japan would record a strong second quarter, as it rebounded from a sharp slump in the previous two, the US would start to expand in the third quarter, while the euro area and the UK would suffer lingering recession though to the end of the year.

After that, in 2010 and beyond, there would be a “prolonged period of pretty weak growth” as firms continued the process of de-leveraging – reducing debt – and US consumers relinquished their role as the driver of global economic growth.

The earlier depths were not expected to be plumbed again and there would not be a “double-dip” recession, Dr Sheard said.

That was largely because policymakers had responded in the right way after taking on board the lessons of history, particularly the experience of Japan’s policymakers in dealing with the collapsed asset price bubble in the early 1990s, he said.

There were three lessons to be learned from that episode.

“One is act quickly, don’t delay the policy response.

“Act very forcefully – act proportionately to the size of the problem you’re faced with.

“And then thirdly act in a comprehensive fashion – pull all the policy levers,” he said.

Although there was always room for criticism, the policy response has been the right one, particularly in the US, Dr Sheard said.

Nomura’s Australia chief economist Stephen Roberts said four resilient Asian economies – China, Indonesia, India and Vietnam – representing 26 per cent of Australia’s exports were doing “particularly well”.

“So, through the export channel, there are good reasons to expect the Australian economy to start to show signs of improvement looking out into 2010.”

He warned the Australian economy could hit a speed bump ahead of that.

“One of the issues we face here in Australia is that the very best of circumstances for household disposable income all coalesced, running from late 2008 though to virtually the middle part of 2009,” Mr Roberts said.

The effect of fiscal stimulus handouts would be tailing off in the second half, while household disposable income would be undermined by slower growth in wage rates, thanks in part to the Australian Fair Pay Commission’s decision last week to leave minimum wage rates unchanged for a million workers.

Although a recovery was in prospect, Nomura’s economists still expect Australia’s GDP to be down by 0.2 per cent in 2009 before rising by 1.8 per cent in 2010.