NC State economics professor: Central NC, worldwide economies ‘in dicey territory’ because of novel coronavirus


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Uncertainty over the novel coronavirus is shaking up the stock market, which on Friday wrapped up its worst week since October 2008. An economic caused by the virus could very well be felt in the Triangle, experts said.

“This is one of those shocks to the system that no one saw coming,” said North Carolina State University economics professor Dr. Michael Walden.​

Walden has been teaching and tracking economics for nearly four decades. With some cities and factories shut down in China — and no end in sight — he said there could be a disruption to the global supply chain.

“Businesses here can’t get supplies from other countries, and likewise. Maybe they can’t sell to them. So, that’s a problem,” Walden said.​

It’s a problem that could trickle down to central North Carolina’s technology companies and farmers who do business internationally.

​“Businesses in North Carolina do business with companies in China. We sell them things (and) they sell us things,” Walden said. “As well as Japan, which is now being affected.”

Jackie Thompson is one of those business owners. The Rolesville farmer sells about 25 percent of his tobacco crop to Japan.​

“In agriculture, we’ve been through a lot of trauma here in North Carolina for the past three years,” Thompson said of the recent hardships farmers have faced. ​

“We’ve been through hurricanes. We’ve been through trade wars, if you will. We’ve been through droughts, (and) even with hurricanes, having too much rain. When you put the coronavirus on top of that, it just compounds everything we’re dealing with.”​

On top of the financial strain, Thompson said a coronavirus outbreak could weaken his workforce that travels in from Mexico.​

“I use migrant workers, which come through the H-2A temporary agricultural workers program, which is a valid program sanctioned by the U.S. Government,” Thompson explained. “If there were borders closed because of the spread of the virus, that could be an issue for us being able to get people to work on our farms to harvest and transplant all of the crops.”​

Walden said a novel coronavirus outbreak could be an issue for everyone — not just those who invest in the stock market or do business internationally.

“We’re in dicey territory right now, simply because the fear of the unknown,” he said.

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