If there is a singular lesson New Zealand corporates learnt from their experiences during the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, it was to "go hard, and, go early".
When the Covid-19 pandemic emerged and markets seized — they were ready.
As the Herald's 2020 Capital Markets report discloses, a total of more than $5 billion of capital was raised on the secondary market in the 90 days from the beginning of April — dwarfing that raised in the early months following the 2008 GFC.
As NZX chief executive Mark Peterson writes, this access to capital has "undoubtedly saved many jobs in New Zealand, and, softened the economic shock for our country".
The earlier crunch tested the hardiest of companies. Investment bankers promoted "blue chips" offshore. New capital was introduced, and credit lines established to help them weather that financial crisis.
By 2009, the Capital Markets Taskforce was arguing that New Zealand's capital markets were failing as an "engine of growth" for the economy, with too few companies growing large enough to compete on the world's stage.
The Reserve Bank reported the key deficiencies highlighted were an over-reliance on bank funding by SMEs, a stock exchange that is small by global standards, and a corporate debt market that offers a limited range of quality services.
Much has since changed. Particularly, that access to "ready money".
As Peterson says, the pandemic has demonstrated the importance of the listed market for New Zealand — not only in supporting Kiwi businesses but also in providing investment opportunities for all investors.
Craigs Investment Partners chief executive Frank Aldridge affirms that the capital markets have done their job by providing liquidity and, where needed, companies have raised capital.
The markets are more diverse than in 2008/09. The ASX has put roots down here and is chasing hard for market share with 56 Kiwi companies now listed on the Australian bourse — up from the 17 firms listed in 2014.
Meantime, the appetite for share investing among smaller retail investors has grown as Kiwis with time on their hands during the lockdown had time to think about their portfolios. Investors in the Sharesies online investment platform swelled from 90,000 to 190,000 during the crisis. At its peak, 2500 investors were joining Sharesies each day and assets under management tripled to $560 million.
At Hatch, it was a similar story — this time with a focus on the US share market as a further 20,000 investors with cash in hand and ready to invest in good quality shares such as Telsa, Amazon and Microsoft, piled in.
For ordinary Kiwis the March meltdown was the first time many realised the value of their funds could go down as well as up, as the Herald's Tamsyn Parker reports.
At the worst point of the crash in late March the S&P 500 index was down more than 33 per cent, while NZ's NZX50 index was down just shy of 30 per cent at its low point on March 23.
Says Parker: "Four months later markets are virtually back to where they were before the crash despite the virus remaining widespread and cases hitting new daily highs."
The NZ Super Fund says we have entered an "era of unknowns". Central banks and governments respectively worked in tandem to inject a colossal amount of monetary and fiscal stimulus into the system. "What everyone needs to focus on is how we can best prepare our economy for that return to normal — but in a world that has changed forever".
That conundrum also exercises the minds of Finance Minister Grant Robertson and National's finance spokesman Paul Goldsmith who we invited to spell out how they would best manage fiscal challenges in the "Age of Covid".
Another key trend shift is the growing focus on sustainability.
Westpac's Simon Power writes this is "an opportunity as a country to embark on a sustainable transformation".
We report on the steady growth of impact investing and trends in sustainable debt which underline this shift.
On the policy front, ANZ's Richard Yetsenga and Jennifer Kusuma say weaning economies off their extraordinary monetary and fiscal accommodation will be the next big challenge. Herald Business Editor-at-large Liam Dann runs his ruler over the Reserve Bank's performance during the crisis. His verdict: Governor Adrian Orr has proved a safe pair of hands.
The banks put their full weight behind businesses early on in the crisis as Graham Skellern reports. Private equity firms like Direct Capital have also raised funds to back companies.
We are not out of the woods.
As Michael Barnett from the Auckland Business Chamber observes. "Not all businesses will survive. It is a brave person who knows when to make the call to close shop. No one should underestimate how traumatic that decision is.
"There is a huge personal toll, deeply felt, from making people redundant, of losing the enterprise that gave meaning and direction to their day, that supported their family and other families, and contributed to the vibrancy of local communities.
"Be kind, be considerate and be realistic. Good times will come again."