Friday, April 3, 2020

The Economic Crash from Covid-19

The Economic Crash from Covid-19

A $2 trillion Corvid-19 spending bill is now law, but Congress better hope Trump gets the money pumped into the spending stream fast. There are roughly 17 million working in the leisure and hospitality industry with about 12 million of them working in restaurants or related food services. There are 22 million more working in wholesale and retail trade. The brunt of the layoffs will fall on them and without enough money for people in these industries to keep up rent or house payments, car payments, groceries, utility bills the economy will collapse, disintegrate.

Congress wants the IRS to send $1,200 to each of the furloughed workers. For someone furloughed earning $62,400 a year, $1,200 is one weeks pay. While its better than unemployment compensation its a one time check to pay bills that keep coming.

Apparently, unemployment compensation that currently averages $300 a week gets bumped up to $600 a week in the new survival bill, although it only goes for 13 weeks. Converted to annual pay $600 amounts to a raise from $15,600 a year to $31,200, which will not maintain spending power for millions. It must be extended. Since the unemployment compensation has an operating bureaucracy it would be wise to let those furloughed from a job earning more than $31,200 to produce their last pay stub and send them their net pay as unemployment compensation. That gives a better chance of sustaining buying power and the flow of transactions. It will now apply to the self employed and gig workers, helping to boost spending.

Unless the money handed over to corporations finds its way back into the spending stream the business subsidies will do nothing to stem the immediate potential for decline. If they pay wages to prevent layoffs that would help, but corporations are notoriously slow putting capital back into the spending stream.

The final bill restricts corporate stock buybacks, executive pay and dividend payments, but those were put there to restrict opportunists from capitalizing on the Pandemic; they will do nothing to sustain the economy. The bill does not add anything for those living on Social Security, nor cancel student loan payments, nor pay the health care bills for the uninsured and so these do nothing to sustain the economy.

The disruption creates a netherworld for economic policy but the astonishingly quick action to provide $2 trillion by a normally battling Congress suggests they at least understand they have to do something to avoid a collapse. I can’t imagine this will go well. They will have to do more to support the working class or the economy will go into a steep recession/depression. Good luck to all!

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