PHOTO: Empty shops are a sign of the tough times for retail in many areas of Australia. ABC News: Nathalie Fernbach

The good news is the Australian economy is just about to notch up another quarter of economic growth, now in the 29th year of its record-breaking expansion.

The bad news is that growth is just inching along — to the point where one leading economist has described the nation as “teetering on the edge of a recession”.

The fear is that, if the economy slows further, unemployment will rise and that could set off a disastrous economic chain reaction that would swing the entire economy into reverse.

The latest September quarter economic growth — or Gross Domestic Product (GDP) — figures out today are expected to show Australia remains on the edge.

The data include various aspects of the economy: consumption (what we spend at the shops), business investment, government spending and net exports (exports minus imports).

Many of the ingredients to GDP have already been announced, so forecasting the final result is a relatively straightforward exercise.

In the three months to the end of September, Australia recorded a seasonally adjusted $7.9-billion current account surplus, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. That’s good economic news.

China’s economy continues to expand at a very healthy pace and so demand for Australia’s iron ore and LNG remains strong.