We plan to cover this topic in more detail. In the meantime, here is one recent report:
Canadian financial analysts predicted that an avian flu pandemic would have dire consequences on the global economy, its impact comparable to the Great Depression of the 1930s.
n a first-of-its-kind report on the financial impact of a possible pandemic, BMO Nesbitt Burns researchers warned that an outbreak could devastate the airline and hospitality industries, trigger mass foreclosures and bankruptcies, decimate insurance companies, and disrupt food chains as people switched from animal to vegetable diets all costing hundreds of billions of dollars.
"Its economic impact could be comparable, at least for a short time, to the Great Depression of the 1930s," said BMO chief economist Sherry Cooper, noting that the report, dubbed "An Investor's Guide to Avian Flu," "is not meant to be alarmist" since an avian flu pandemic is unlikely to occur anytime soon and would only last a few months.
Attendance of sporting events, theme parks and movies would drop, if not banned outright. Patronage of bars, restaurants and hotels would plummet, he said.
As more people stayed home, e-commerce might flourish, as long as postal and courier services were maintained.
"Financial markets could prove as vulnerable as unvaccinated humans," Coxe said.
Treasury markets would be vulnerable to a sell-off by Asian banks whose holdings are enormous, she added.
And, the high death rate would create a housing oversupply and puncture the current real estate bubble, Cooper said.
"In relatively short order, the deceleration of almost all non-essential economic activity would trigger a rampant decline in spending," leading to deflation and massive job losses, she concluded.
A few comments: A pandemic would last more than a few months, most likely. Housing oversupply would not be a major problem, although many asset price bubbles would burst. The continuity of public affairs did better in the 1918-1919 flu pandemic than one might have expected, although admittedly early microbe-caused deaths (e.g., tuberculosis) were a more typical medical event in those days. The economic consequences would be devastating, although probably unlike the Great Depression in qualitative terms. Rather than employees looking for work, we could expect employers looking to lure workers out of the home but failing.