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Veteran metro Detroit business turnaround consultant Pat O’Keefe said Friday that if the coronavirus outbreak keeps the Detroit 3 automakers’ assembly plants idle until mid-April, Michigan runs the risk of “slipping into a depression.”
“For every week that we are shut down, it will probably take four weeks to start back up,” O’Keefe said in an interview on the Crain’s Conversations podcast. “My fondest hope is that in Michigan by March 31, certainly no later than April 15, we’re back to business as usual.”
“If we don’t move past that in some level of commerce,” O’Keefe added, “my fear is that the economy could slip into a depression and we’ll be battling this for some time.”
O’Keefe made those comments one day after General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. closed all of their manufacturing sites in the U.S., Canada and Mexico until at least March 30; Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is easing vehicle production through the end of the month.
O’Keefe, the founder and CEO of a Bloomfield Hills financial and turnaround consulting firm, said Michigan’s auto industry is better prepared to withstand a prolonged economic downturn after the 2008009 financial crisis.
“This latest crisis in some ways is not different — it too shall pass,” O’Keefe said. “And my opinion is that those who are proactive will survive.”
O’Keefe talked with Crain’s Senior Editor Chad Livengood for a Crain’s Conversations podcast interview about strategies for businesses to weather the economic storm triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Listen to the podcast and read Crain’s complete coverage of the coronavirus outbreak in Michigan here.