CNN’s Richard Quest told Today he predicted the COVID-19 pandemic would end up causing “horrific” damage to equities on world sharemarkets.
Hits to shares would rock high streets and huge companies, like Qantas and Virgin Australia, Mr Quest said.
Both Australian airlines would need “some form of Government assistance” in the future, he said.
“The economic damage, it will be horrific,” Mr Quest added.
“The wholesale destruction of shareholder value has probably still got some way to go.”
Mr Quest said it would take years for stockmarkets to recover from the hammering.
There are now more than 4000 cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States, according to government agencies and the CDC.
Stocks plunged around the world overnight as data showed the outbreak has caused an unprecedented economic collapse in China.
Markets were battered across Asia, with Australia’s benchmark index crashing nearly 10 per cent in its worst day on record.
In Europe, London’s FTSE 100 finished down 4 per cent, while France’s CAC 40 plunged 5.8 per cent and Germany’s DAX ended down 5.3 per cent.
The European Securities and Markets Authority required short sellers to provide more information about their activities, saying the pandemic “constitutes a serious threat to the orderly functioning and integrity of the financial markets”.
“There is a clear risk that such downward trend will continue in the coming days and weeks,” the regulator said in a statement.
Investors bailed out of stocks despite a massive intervention by the US Federal Reserve on Sunday.
The central bank slashed rates to close to zero at an emergency meeting, and said it would purchase another US$700 billion worth of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities.
The shock rate cut is designed to prevent the economic shock leading to the kind of credit crunch and financial market disruptions that occurred during the global financial crisis — the last time the Fed cut rates all the way to the bottom.
“I don’t think [the Fed] would have done this unless they felt the financial markets were at significant risk of freezing up tomorrow. They’re very concerned the financial markets won’t work. So I don’t know how the markets take solace in this,” Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, told CNN Business.
The Fed also coordinated action with the European Central Bank, Bank of England, Bank of Japan, Bank of Canada and Swiss National bank to shore up liquidity in the financial system.
On Monday, airline stocks were badly hit as they announced waves of flight cancellations in response to global travel restrictions.
In Europe, Air France KLM dropped 10 per cent, while British Airways-owner IAG dropped nearly 27 per cent.
In the US, American Airlines shares actually ended 11 per cent higher, while United Airlines was down nearly 15 per cent.
Brent crude, the global benchmark for oil, settled down 11.2 per cent at $30.05 a barrel.
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