Former Macquarie Group chief executive Nicholas Moore says investor caution is understandable in the face of the coronavirus, but is optimistic about innovation in the economy especially in the technology and healthcare sectors.
Speaking at the Future Generation Virtual Investment Forum on Thursday, Mr Moore said it was undeniable that COVID-19 had thrown up a range of genuine reasons for concern and worry for businesses, families and communities.
“There is no shortage of challenges out there for individuals and communities… I think we have to recognise this is part of the human condition — we’re sensibly wired to be cautious about the future,” he said.
Mr Moore is no stranger to difficult economic conditions, having steered Macquarie Group through the global financial crisis. Now, in roles including as chairman of The Smith Family and software startup Willow, he said he was seeing some bright spots in Australian business that could boost confidence.
“We’ve got great tech companies continuing to emerge,” Mr Moore said.
This includes healthcare startups such as needle-free vaccine technology developer Vaxxas, which has been thrust into the spotlight throughout the pandemic, he said.
“All these technologies that have been floating around, they suddenly seem to be accelerating. You can see the sort of innovation taking place now that has driven growth historically. You get a degree of confidence seeing what is happening in response to COVID.”
Investment analysts have predicted ongoing volatility in investment markets over the coming months ahead of important global events including the US election and the potential success of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Mr Moore said he would not be making forecasts about future GDP growth but said it was heartening that communities were responding thoughtfully throughout the pandemic, including embracing technology and continuing to support the not-for-profit sector.
“Perhaps we shouldn’t be so pessimistic about the future… It has been a very challenging time for many people, but there are a few glimmers of positive lessons.”