Bushfires Impact – Special NAB Monthly Business Survey (February 2020)

Source: NAB (Alan Oster, Chief Economist)

Bushfire impacts have been catastrophic for those directly involved we have
used the Business Survey panel to try and judge the broader impact of the
bushfires on the general economy.  Although there’s no doubting the
devastating impact upon local businesses in bushfire affected areas, key
results suggest that the Bushfires have not impacted significantly on the
macroeconomy (and significantly less than the Qld floods impact).  Indeed
the answers imply a reduction from Q1 2020 GDP growth of around 0.15 percentage
points from Bushfires vis-à-vis more than 1 percentage
point from the Qld floods
. The Survey involves responses from 339 firms
from our broader Business Survey panel and 279 firms from our SME panel. 
Broadly the results from both panels are similar.  

of the key results are:

  • Around 80% of
    respondents report no to little impact (by way of contrast Qld floods read was
    68%) and moderate to large impacts were around 20% (Qld floods were 38%);
  • Loss of capacity
    utilisation and revenue was relatively minor – but for some huge; average
    working days lost were around 4½ days but higher for SMEs and in NSW;
  • Impacts were most
    pronounced for retail and transport and utilities followed by wholesale and
    recreational and personal services; the largest impacts were in NSW and
  • There was a large
    section of losses not covered by insurance (higher in the SME space);
  • The biggest restraints
    to recovery were labour and material availability, lack of demand and utility
  • A surprisingly large
    number of respondents reported that they were back to pre-bushfire business
    levels (around 75%). Those reporting it would take more than a month to recover
    were around 8% (Qld floods were over 20%).
  • While around half of
    respondents saw no need to put more emphasis on climate change from the
    bushfires (especially mining & construction), there were 30% suggesting
    moderate to significant change was required.  

while the indirect impact from the bushfires on the broader economy was
surprisingly low (in our opinion) they are consistent with only small
differences between the December and January Monthly Business survey results.


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