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The responses to the coronavirus outbreak moved with astonishing speed over March, and before the end of the month New Zealand had joined several other countries in a virtual lockdown. This was the right decision to save lives, but the economic cost will be severe, in the opinion of Michael Gordon from Westpac.

Key quotes

“We estimate that New Zealand GDP will fall by 1% in the March quarter and 14% in the June quarter.”

“The end of the lockdown will allow a large jump in economic activity as businesses reopen and as some catchup activity occurs. We are forecasting a 10% lift in GDP for the September quarter, although that would still leave the economy 5% smaller than at the start of the year.”

“We expect the unemployment rate to peak at ‘only’ 9% this year.”

“We estimate that Government borrowing will increase by around $70bn over the next four years, which would see the net debt to GDP ratio rise from 18.5% now to 40% by mid–2022.”