- US lawmakers are expected to pass a $2 trillion stimulus package later this week. The legislation includes direct payments to individuals, a boost to unemployment benefits and a $500 billion lending program.
- Congress has already approved more than $112 billion to ramp up vaccine research and provide two weeks of paid sick leave for those who are being tested or treated for Covid-19, the disease cause by the novel coronavirus.
- The Federal Reserve has let loose a tsunami of stimulus measures in recent days. That includes an initial pledge to purchase $700 billion in US Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities, which now has no cap and can include corporate bonds and bond exchange-traded funds. The Fed also announced $300 billion in new financing to keep credit flowing to businesses and consumers.
- The UK government has unveiled £330 billion ($397 billion) in loan guarantees and suspended local business taxes for the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors for 12 months. It will also cover 80% of workers’ salaries for at least the next three months, up to a maximum of £2,500 ($2,900) a month. It’s unclear how much that initiative will cost.
- In addition, the UK government on Thursday promised to provide the self-employed with a cash grant of 80% of their average monthly profit, up to £2,500 ($3,000) a month, over the next quarter.
- The Bank of England has said it will increase its holdings of UK government and corporate bonds by £200 billion ($242 billion).
- Germany has unveiled a rescue package worth up to €750 billion ($825 billion) that includes measures to spur lending to businesses and take direct stakes in companies.
- France has approved €45 billion ($50 billion) in relief for small businesses and unemployed workers. It is also guaranteeing €300 billion ($330 billion) in corporate borrowing.
- Italy has greenlit €25 billion ($27.5 billion) to help workers and support the country’s health system, while Spain has put up €200 billion ($220 billion).
- The European Central Bank has said it will spend €750 billion ($824 billion) buying government debt and private securities before the end of 2020, and stands ready to do more if necessary. That’s on top of €120 billion ($133 billion) in extra purchases it announced previously.
- So far, China has announced at least 116.9 trillion yuan ($16.4 billion) in financial relief and stimulus, plus 800 billion yuan ($112.5 billion) in tax and fee reductions. But if necessary, the country could very well spend trillions of dollars and rack up massive amounts of debt to shore up its economy.
- The People’s Bank of China has adopted various credit easing measures, allocating at least 1.15 trillion yuan ($162 billion) to help businesses hit by the virus.
- The Japanese government is expected to consider an economic stimulus package in the coming weeks that would likely include cash handouts as well as measures to help small and medium-sized companies get access to loans. The package could total 30 trillion yen ($274.2 billion).
- The Bank of Japan has said it will raise the annual rate of its purchases of exchange-traded funds by 6 trillion yen ($55 billion) and boost the annual rate of purchases of real estate investment trusts by 90 billion yen ($822 million). It also raised the limit for purchases of commercial paper and corporate bonds by 2 trillion yen ($18 billion).
- The Indian government unveiled a relief package worth $22.6 billion just 36 hours after the country’s lockdown was imposed. It includes health coverage and food assistance, as well as subsidies and benefits for workers.
Coronavirus: Premier François Legault offers glimmer of hope for Quebec’s economy – Global News
Quebec Premier François Legault expressed optimism about the possibility of getting Quebec’s economy back on track, after taking a hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Non-essential businesses have been shuttered for weeks in an effort to contain the spread the virus, which has had an impact on the economy.
Legault said he was encouraged by COVID-19 projections — made public on Tuesday — and believes Quebec is leaning towards a best-case scenario because of its social-distancing measures.
Coronavirus outbreak: Quebec projections show COVID-19 peak likely in mid-April
Public health officials project the number of cases will peak around April 18 and Legault said he was hopeful businesses could start opening next month.
“But we have to restart the economy without restarting the pandemic,” he warned.
Quebec’s public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda said social-distancing measures will continue be as important as ever. He also stated that most gatherings will still be forbidden in order to avoid a resurgence of the virus.
Legault said re-imagining the workplace should be top of mind.
“I think it’s important that managers, owners of different businesses, that they start thinking about a new way to work in the next weeks or months,” he said.
On Monday, the government announced a $100-million employee training program to help businesses adjust to a new reality. The idea is to ensure employees are trained to use new technologies and can learn new workflows.
Other measures put forward by the government to boost the economy include the Panier Bleu, an online platform to encourage Quebecers to buy locally, as well as various subsidies for businesses and individual workers alike.
Legault said government officials are also working with various company representatives to see how businesses will be able to re-open, provided the “figures stay good in the next few days.”
It’s a reminder that everyone has a crucial role to play in the pandemic.
“I know it’s tough, tough to continue all our efforts, but as we say in English: April showers bring May flowers,” he said.
— With files from Global’s Raquel Fletcher
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Expert weighs in on Kenney’s economic plan for Alberta, suggests PST could be an answer – Global News
While Jason Kenney’s televised address to the province on Tuesday night gave details on how the COVID-19 pandemic in the province could play out in terms of cases and deaths, some political scientists say the comments the premier made in regards to the economic future of Alberta didn’t provide a lot of specifics.
One political scientist in the province said there is one option for the government to increase revenue: implementing a provincial sales tax (PST).
Alberta premier warns devastating economic impact of COVID-19 could mean record unemployment, negative oil prices
Mensah said the pandemic has completely changed the circumstances of the province, and that while the UCP had campaigned on a platform of fiscal conservatism, there needs to be a way of balancing the books going forward.
“The only way available is to look at a modest PST, to provide options for the government to be able to fund programs.”
Kenney said in his Tuesday night address that the social distancing and closure orders in the province would be in place at least until the end of May. He also said that the province would eventually roll out a “relaunch strategy” to get the economy moving again, involving mass testing to get those with immunity back to work, and increasing border screening.
Explaining Alberta’s probable, elevated and extreme COVID-19 modelling numbers
However, once the premier addressed the situation with the global oil markets, experts said there was a lack of clarity on how the province could move past this.
“There didn’t seem to be a whole lot of answers, and just some real dangerous situations,” Mount Royal University political science professor Duane Bratt said.
“[Kenney] talked about a budget deficit that will triple to about $20 billion dollars, [he] talked about negative prices for energy — where we may have to pay people to take it — and there was no sense of how we’re going to get out of that,” said Bratt.
In his address Tuesday, Kenney said he could not “overstate how grave the implications of this will be for jobs, the economy and the financial security of Albertans.
“Much of this is due to the COVID-19 recession, but it has been made worse by a predatory price war led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, who are trying permanently to damage North America’s energy industry.”
Bratt said that while Kenney did reference the Keystone XL pipeline project as an important energy investment made by the government, as well as the work being put into collaborating with its federal counterpart and the U.S in regards to the energy sector, when it came to the province’s economic future, “he didn’t go into the same degree of details, the same strength of numbers as was on the health side.”
While the PST has been a difficult policy option for governments in the past, the COVID-19 situation has put the government into a spot that would be tricky to get out of without it, Mensah said.
“It’s the time to really put aside the ideology of fiscal conservatism,” Mensah said. “I think there’s room for a modest PST, to generate revenue in these uncertain times. You could even put a sunset on the PST— you could have it for five years or so, for the revenue to start to improve.
“The government really has to re-calibrate here and come up with an alternate approach to the province’s finances,” he said.
Kenney has shut down PST idea
However, on March 9, just over a week before Alberta declared a health emergency due to COVID-19, Kenney shut down the idea.
“I cannot imagine a dumber thing to do in the midst of a time of economic fragility, an oil price collapse and a global recession, than to add a multi-billion-dollar tax on the Alberta economy and on Alberta families,” he said.
Jason Kenney says government will not implement a PST
“You’re talking about a PST that would generate several billion dollars of revenue. That would take several thousand dollars out of the pockets of Alberta families at the worst possible time.
“This government is not going to take thousands of dollars out of people’s household budgets at a time of real economic challenge,” Kenney said.
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the premier said in a statement that Kenney’s previous comments on the idea of a provincial sales tax still stand.
Cases of COVID-19 have spiked and mass layoffs have been handed out in Alberta since March 9, when there were just seven confirmed cases in the province. Just under a month later, on April 8, there were 1,423.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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