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Home News & Insights The true cost of an epidemic

The true cost of an epidemic

legalsuper 01 May 2020
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Recent events such as the coronavirus outbreak, bushfires across Australia and the drought highlight the far-reaching effects of an epidemic and macro events. Beyond the initial devastation, the true cost of an epidemic often takes some time to filter through the economy.

How do epidemics and pandemics affect industries?

The biggest impact on many industries in an epidemic or pandemic is supply chain delays. Industries rely on specific regions to source parts and products. Using the coronavirus outbreak and assembly lines for technology products, as an example, people in assembly lines typically work in close quarters. To contain the outbreak, factories in China delayed restarting production after the Lunar New Year break.

Tourism and education industries are other key industries effected by epidemics and pandemics. In Australia, measures to contain coronavirus, including the suspension of incoming flights from China, have significant impacts on the tourism and education industries.

How are individual businesses effected by epidemics and pandemics?

Businesses within the sectors most impacted by epidemics and pandemics experience the effects of an outbreak first. In Australia, for example, travel booking company Webjet experienced a 10% slump in its share price in late-January following the coronavirus outbreak.

Small and medium businesses can often be the hardest hit. Businesses such as restaurants and retailers in tourist hotspots and tourism services companies will be among the hardest hit in Australia over the coming months.

How long does it take for markets to recover after an epidemic?

Market recovery following an epidemic is dependent on a range of factors. Following the SARS outbreak the Chinese Government deployed fiscal stimulus to aid in economic recovery. At the time of the SARS outbreak (first quarter of 2003), China's economic growth was 11.1%. By the second quarter, the country's economic growth fell to 9.1%. As the outbreak was contained, and fiscal stimulus was deployed, China's economic growth recovered to 10% by the third quarter of 2003. Looking at other markets, the S&P500 posted a gain of 14.59% following the first confirmed case of SARS. The index posted a gain of 20.76% a year after the outbreak.

How will an epidemic or pandemic impact my investments?

The economy has changed since the SARS outbreak. China is now a much larger part of the global economy, accounting for around 17% of global GDP, compared to 4% in 2003, so the economic impacts of coronavirus are expected to be more pronounced. The best thing investors can do right now is exercise caution.

To discuss how your investments may be impacted by coronavirus speak to your financial adviser. Your financial adviser can help you protect your wealth by implementing suitable hedging strategies to minimise the impacts of these events on your portfolio.

This information is general information only and does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. Accordingly, before taking any action, you should consider whether it is appropriate to you, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. You should obtain a copy of legalsuper’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) which is available by contacting legalsuper or via its website at legalsuper.com.au before making a decision. Past performance is not a guide to future performance.

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Beyond the initial devastation, the true cost of an epidemic often takes some time to filter through the economy.

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