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Letter: There is no trade-off between public health and the economy – Open Democracy

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The UK Government’s approach to suppressing COVID-19 risks becoming the worst of all possible worlds. Partial measures to half-close the hospitality and other sectors without providing sufficient financial support to the businesses in them will not suppress the rate of infection sufficiently to cut the death rate and protect the NHS, but will almost certainly lead many businesses to close and workers to lose their jobs.

As both SAGE and The Lancet have said, short but deep ‘circuit breaker’ lockdowns are the only way to rapidly reduce the R rate to a level which can then allow the economy and social life to open up again. But they must be accompanied by the generous furlough and business support schemes for which the Chancellor was rightly praised in the spring. Support to the self-employed and those on Universal Credit also needs to be increased.

Yes, this will cost the Treasury money. But, as in times of war, there is no effective economic limit on crisis spending: debt can be absorbed now by the Bank of England and paid back over 25 years or more.

Over the medium term there is no real trade-off between public health and the economy. Only by suppressing the virus will the economy be able properly to reopen. This is likely to require periodic circuit breaker lockdowns; but with sufficient Treasury support those will almost certainly cause less economic and mental hardship than permanent half-measures. Ultimately, exiting this destructive cycle requires a functioning test and trace system, with local health teams, rather than private and centralised companies, in charge.

Yours,

Professor Simon Wren-Lewis, Emeritus Professor of Economics, University of Oxford

Professor Jonathan Portes, Professor of Economics and Public Policy, King’s College London

Professor Daniela Gabor, Professor of Economics and Macro-Finance, UWE Bristol

Professor Michael Jacobs, Professor of Political Economy, University of Sheffield

Dr Jo Michell, Associate Professor of Economics, UWE Bristol

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Coronavirus vaccine could help economy recover faster than expected

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Canada’s economy could rebound faster than expected if consumer spending jumps in the wake of a successful coronavirus vaccination effort, Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem said on Thursday.

On the other hand, if the economy weakens amid a second wave of infections, Macklem indicated the central bank could if necessary cut already record low interest rates.

In late October, the bank said it assumed a vaccine would not be widely available until mid-2022. Since then, several manufacturers have announced potential vaccines that could be distributed starting early next year.

“It is possible, especially when there is a vaccine, that households will decide to spend more than we have forecast and if that happens the economy will rebound more quickly,” Macklem said in response to questions from the House of Commons finance committee. He described the news about vaccines as promising.

In late October, the bank forecast the economy would not fully recover until some time in 2023, a forecast Macklem repeated in his opening remarks.

The path to recovery still faced risks, he said. Earlier this year the bank slashed its key interest rate to 0.25 per cent.

“We could potentially lower the effective lower bound, even without going negative. It’s at 25 basis points, it could be a little bit lower,” Macklem said, repeating that negative interest rates would not be helpful.

The U.S. Federal Reserve has a target for its key rate of 0 to 0.25 per cent. The Reserve Bank of Australia this month cut its policy rate to 0.1 per cent.

Some other central banks also have benchmark rate that are less than 0.25 per cent, such as the European Central Bank and the Bank of England.

“We want to be very clear – Canadians can be confident that borrowing costs are going to remain very low for a long time,” Macklem said.

 

Source: – Global News

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As economy struggles, Fed weighs boosting bond purchases – Investment Executive

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The Fed since June has been buying $120 billion in bonds each month to keep downward pressure on long-term interest rates as a way of giving the economy a boost as it struggles to emerge from a deep recession.

The purchases have included $80 billion a month in Treasury bonds and $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities.

With the economy showing signs of slowing in the face a resurgence in coronavirus cases and a return to shutdowns in some areas, there has been market speculation that the Fed could decide to boost the size of its monthly purchases.

The minutes show that while no decision was taken on what to do or when, Fed officials were keeping their options open. Some analysts believe the Fed will make an announcement on boosting the bond purchase program at its next meeting on Dec. 15-16, especially if there has been no movement by Congress to provide more economic relief to individuals and businesses.

The minutes said that many Fed officials “judged that asset purchases helped provide insurance against risks that might reemerge in financial markets in an environment of high uncertainty.”

Concern has been growing among economists that the economy is slowing after an initial rebound this summer and could even topple into a double-dip recession in the early part of 2021 if Congress does not replenish expiring support programs.

At the White House Wednesday, Peter Navarro, one of President Donald Trump’s economic advisers, told reporters that a “sober” reading of the economic recovery shows “we are facing … a chasm ahead for millions of Americans unless there can be a bipartisan” deal to provide further economic relief.

The minutes released Wednesday covered the Fed’s Nov. 4-5 meeting, held just after the November elections, and were released with the customary lag of three weeks.

At the meeting, the central bank kept its benchmark interest rate at a record low near zero and signalled that it was prepared to do more if needed to support the economy.

A multitrillion-dollar stimulus effort enacted in the spring has helped support millions of Americans who have been thrown out of work and provided further assistance to struggling individuals and businesses.

But many of those programs have expired and jobless benefits are due to run out for millions of Americans by the end of this year.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell had said at a news conference following the two-day meeting that Fed officials had discussed whether and how a bond buying program might be altered to provide more economic support.

In addition to increasing the size of the program, the Fed could decide to alter the composition of the bonds purchases to focus on buying long-term securities as a way of putting added downward pressure on long-term rates.

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Mexico Economy Grows at Record Pace With Long Recovery Ahead – Yahoo Canada Finance

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GlobeNewswire

Chicco Black Friday & Cyber Monday Deals (2020): Best Nextfit Car Seat, Bravo Travel System & More Deals Reviewed by Saver Trends

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