Can the global economy offset COVID-19?

World Today

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COVID-19 has sent the global economy into a tailspin. As the virus disrupts global supply chains as well as local economies, governments are implementing measures they hope will dampen the effects.

According to the U.S. Labor Department, 281,000 Americans filed for unemployment last week, an increase of 70,000 from the week before.

James Bullard, president of the St. Louis branch of the US Federal Reserve Bank, predicted the U.S. unemployment rate might hit 30% in the second quarter of this year, Bloomberg News reports. Because of the shutdowns, Bullard also forecast an unprecedented 50% drop in total economic output.

A 30% precent unemployment rate would be higher it was during the Great Depression, when the unemployment rate peaked in 1933 at 24.5%. 

On Monday, the U.S. Federal Reserve revived quantitative easing – a controversial stimulus program that the Fed implemented to keep the economy afloat during the 2008 financial crisis.

The Fed will buy U.S. Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities to provide emergency injections of cash into banks. What is unprecedented is the absence of any limit on purchases. Unlike previous rounds of quantitative easing, this one will impose no monthly cap on the amount of assets the Fed will buy.

“Our nation’s first priority is to care for those afflicted and to limit the further spread of the virus, the Fed statement on Monday said. “It has become clear that our economy will face severe disruptions. Aggressive efforts must be taken across the public and private sectors to limit the losses to jobs and incomes and to promote a swift recovery once the disruptions abate,” the statement said.

“The Fed is trying to prevent the recession from turning into a depression,” The Washington Post wrote.

Meanwhile, the U.S. stock market continues to drop as lawmakers continue to disagree over a stimulus bill for the nation.

A nearly $2 trillion stimulus package failed to pass the U.S. Senate on Sunday night. The bill would include cash-payments to households, unemployment insurance and aid for small businesses.