By Bernard Hickey
Deja vu is a slightly discomforting and frustrating feeling.
It's difficult to put your finger exactly on what's wrong and what's new from a repeat.
But on Thursday afternoon sitting in the Budget lockup listening to Bill English I realised I was hearing essentially the same thing for the fourth year in a row.
This was where the discomfort and frustration kicked in.
I was hearing a politician repeat the same forecasts about a rebound in economic growth solving the government's problems.
Except, for the last four years, year after year, growth hasn't solved the government's problems because there hasn't been enough of it.
Treasury has, almost by routine, forecast GDP growth would bounce back to a 'normal level' of between 3-4% and would make the budget deficit and borrowing go away.
Yet every year since 2008 it hasn't.
Then a sickening feeling hit me and I think it's beginning to seep into the bones of consumers, businesses and ultimately voters.
It's different this time.
Maybe our economy, and the global economy, will never get back to 'normal'. Maybe economic growth is going to stay slower for much longer in the same way that interest rates are staying lower for much longer.
That's the conclusion of some fresh research out in the month on the long term effect on economic growth of financial crises in a world of high public debt.
US economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, the author of the widely acclaimed book 'This time is different', published a fresh paper looking at economic growth and debt figures since the early 1800s. It found that growth in countries with public debt over 90% of GDP tended to be around 1% lower than normal for an average of 23 years - that's not a misprint - 23 years.
The implication is profoundly sobering.
Most European countries, Japan and America now have public debt levels well above that 90% threshold. Add in company, household and bank debt and that debt load on the developed economy is crushing.
This goes some way to explain why the global economy has time and again failed to bounce back with any resilience or robustness since the 2008 crisis. The European and American economies are now going back into what appears to be double or triple dip recessions.
Even China is stumbling towards slower growth.
Something is broken and it still hasn't really sunk through into the economic models and thinking of bureaucrats and politicians in the developed world. They are still forecasting their economies will bounce back to pre-2008 averages.
These policy makers are like the Energiser bunnies. They keep bouncing up and down on the spot, hoping to move, but just going around in circles.
It's understandable. Accepting growth will be lower for decades rather than just a few quarters is deeply scary.
It means assets have to be revalued vastly lower. It means assumptions about paying for pensions and healthcare have to be completely reworked. It means tough decisions have to be made.
The cost of those asset revaluations have to be borne by certain groups of people. Bank shareholders tend to get hit first. Shareholders and pensioners get hammered.
Sometimes taxpayers are hit when banks are bailed out. Eventually taxpayers have to accept a shift lower or, at least, a reshuffling of their standards of living.
Europe is now living through this great reckoning: a realisation of lower growth for longer and a battle over who pays the price.
I wonder how long before the Energiser bunnies at our Treasury stop bouncing and the politicians stop repeating the same prescriptions expecting a different result.