Tasmanian businesses would be hit by an increasingly likely national recession caused by coronavirus, economist Saul Eslake says.
"If Australia does experience a recession, it's unlikely that Tasmania will be completely immune," Mr Eslake said on Tuesday.
"We do have some advantages.
"Our economy has been growing at a faster rate than the national average, we are less dependent on international tourists and students than other states and the state government has some scope to add to the federal government's efforts to prevent job losses."
However, he said Tasmanian businesses would inevitably be affected by a downturn elsewhere in Australia, especially in Victoria, and in key international export markets.
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"If companies and other organisations start cancelling conferences scheduled to be held in Tasmania, or if other large gatherings - such as football games - are temporarily banned as a health precaution, that could also have significant adverse economic effects," Mr Eslake said.
"Likewise, if large numbers of Australians are required to self isolate or if for other reasons they avoid domestic travel, Tasmanian businesses will be adversely affected."
Mr Eslake said it seemed increasingly likely the national economy would go into recession by the most common definition - two consecutive quarters of declining gross domestic product - for the first time in almost 30 years.
"The Australian economy has become more vulnerable to almost any kind of adverse shock because it had been growing at a below-trend pace for some time and the scope to ameliorate any shock in the traditional way - by cutting interest rates - had become nearly exhausted," he said.
"And of course now we are having the shock, albeit from a totally unexpected source."
In the early 1990s recession, various financial institutions collapsed, businesses crashed and the national unemployment rate increased to 11.2 per cent.
It is currently at 5.3 per cent.
With the federal government's stimulus measures yet to be revealed at the time of writing, Mr Eslake said he assumed they would focus on minimising the impact of the downturn on employment , and especially on helping smaller businesses whose cashflow had been hit hard to avoid laying off staff in large numbers.
"I'm not sure that cash handouts to households or investment incentives will do much towards that objective, but direct wage subsidies, deferral of tax liabilities and perhaps working with financial institutions to arrange temporary debt service moratoriums would help to reduce layoffs and thus help what should start as a relatively mild recession from becoming something more serious," he said.
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