More government support will likely be needed, in new forms, to keep small businesses afloat, says ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley.
That could mean direct payments to some businesses or, longer term, targeted tax breaks to encourage investment in different parts of the economy.
"The critical thing over the next month or two is ensuring that as many New Zealand businesses survive as is possible," Tuffley said.
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"Yes there will have been some that were on the edge going into this, but so many normal businesses were doing fine up until this lockdown, and will now be in a fragile state.
"They're the ones that will be providing the jobs out the other side."
The Government has already launched billions of dollars worth of support measures including backing for new business lending, loosening tax rules and providing wage subsidies.
More than one million workers are now on wage subsidies with the programme already costing more than $6 billion.
The Government estimates the programme it may eventually cost as much as $12b.
But more targeted initiatives for businesses may be needed as New Zealand's economy goes through a tough transition period and into a "new normal", Tuffley said.
Even if we emerged quickly from the crisis phase, a long transition phase was now inevitable, he said.
Borders were likely to be closed for months and new consumer behaviours were going to emerge, he said.
That would create opportunities but businesses would need to be assisted too so they were able to adapt.
"Where small businesses are facing a lot of problems, do we look at paying them a lump sum every week to ensure that they will stay open and survive out the other side?" Tuffley said.
"Over the rest of the year, as we're emerging from this, that's when we start looking at incentivising businesses to invest more into areas where there will be scope [for growth].
"We're going to see a number of businesses come out of it and say: I've seen some great opportunities with people behaving in a different way, I can see how I can take advantage of that and create something that will meet that."
Possible incentives could include things like allowing "huge amounts" of tax depreciation or by offering GST holidays for certain preferred sectors, he said.
As the economy emerged into the "new normal" there were two paths we could take.
"We can try to keep on doing what we have been doing and rely heavily on government support just to keep the wheels going," Tuffley said.
Or we could see a "bigger rewiring of the economy, not just here in New Zealand but globally", he said.
"So how we do things, how technology comes into those roles and how we position ourselves in a world where people movement is likely to be a lot less.
"I think we can adapt. We're very used to being a jack of all trades."
New Zealand had an advantage in that our economy was underpinned by food production and the Government still had plenty of fiscal capacity to support businesses and workers, he said.
Treasury has so far advised that it will borrow an additional $25b this year.
That figure will rise.
"We do see the Government taking on upwards of $100b in extra debt," Tuffley said.
"So debt to GDP going from around 20 per cent to around 50 per cent."
While that was a big change in a short period of time it would leave us at about half the level of government debt that the United States and much of Europe had already, he said.
New Zealand was a nation of small businesses, Tuffley said.
The larger corporates also accounted for a huge amount of employment but would have "more flexibility around getting hold of cash".
That was already evident with companies like Auckland Airport using financial markets to raise capital.
Larger businesses also had more access to bank credit and were generally more resilient, Tuffley said.
"They've got the resources. It's those small and medium enterprises where we will need to do what we can to help the viable ones get through and be able to recover."