THE CORONAVIRUS will have economic implications for Horsham and the Wimmera region, according to a NAB economist.
Speaking at an event hosted at NAB Horsham on Wednesday night agribusiness economist Phin Ziebell said because the economy "wasn't looking that good" before the coronavirus the challenges presented by the illness would be "substantial".
"There will be an impact and that impact will be felt locally even if we don't see a mass outbreak in Australia," he said.
"For agriculture the overall picture looks pretty good, although there's probably some risk on prices.
"The bad news is, it's bad, it's very bad. It's likely to put Chinese growth into reverse in (the first quarter)," he said. "It's going to do a lot of damage throughout east Asia and now into Europe.
"That's a global shock that we haven't seen at least since the Global Financial Crisis."
Mr Ziebell said the affects of the coronavirus on the economy would be "twofold", hitting both supply and demand.
"People aren't going out to restaurants, people aren't going on holidays, they're not spending money, they're being very conservative, which is what we saw in 2008," he said.
"People aren't turning up to work in China so they can't actually build things that we consume. So in two months if you want winter fashions that could be a bit of a challenge."
Mr Ziebell said Australia had negative growth in the first quarter of the year because of the bushfires and that economists simply didn't know yet whether there would be a recession.
He said the good news was that Korea was containing the virus and that the Reserve Bank of Australia were likely to do another rate cut in April.
"At that point the RBA will be basically out of ammunition and will be essentially be a zero rate environment," he said. "The RBA's next move after it cuts rates to essentially zero is bond buying."
Mr Ziebell said the practice of "bond buying" was "effectively printing money" which could result in negatives like higher set prices and a delay in money flowing through to consumers.
Additionally he raised concerns about the long-term effects of "ultra-low interest rates" on the structure of the economy.
Mr Ziebell said he supported the government's move to announce a fiscal stimulus package, which he said would help fix the demand side of the economy.
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Mr Ziebell said while the Wimmera had a good season for grain last year, the coronavirus and changing rainfall presented a challenge to the local agriculture industry.
"The challenge I think in the next 12 months is we've just come off excellent local grain prices for about 18 months, driven largely by domestic livestock, particularly NSW and Queensland experiencing drought," he said. "A lot of grain went north, not so much has gone for export.
"But I think if NSW and Queensland have a good season, and all the indications are that they've already had very substantial rain and we hope that they'll get more, that's going to see a normalisation of grain prices.
"So on balance we expect that grain prices will be lower in the coming year largely because of a normalisation in terms of the export parity."
Mr Ziebell had more positive news regarding prices for the livestock industry, which has had "the biggest increase in rural commodity prices in February on record."
"That's largely driven by cattle price and lamb price. They are massive prices," he said.