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US Treasury Chief: Would Take Years for US Economy to Recover Without Aid Deal – Voice of America

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Sunday it “will take years” to get the country’s coronavirus-ravaged economy back on track if Congress fails to enact President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief package, rejecting Republican claims that it is too big. 

Yellen told CNN that with passage of the relief deal, the economy could return to what is considered full employment in the world’s biggest economy by 2022, with a 4% jobless rate compared to the 6.3% rate in January. 

“There’s tremendous suffering in the country,” she said, with nearly 10 million jobs lost in the coronavirus pandemic and a reported 4 million workers who have given up looking for new work. The government reported Friday that the United States added only 49,000 jobs in January. 

Biden Pushes for Quick Passage of Relief Bill as Jobs Report Shows Weak Growth

President urges Congress to ‘do something big’ to spur economy

Both chambers of Congress, each narrowly controlled by Biden’s Democratic Party, voted last week for budget rules that, if necessary, would allow Democrats to push through the new spending on party-line votes in both the Senate and House of Representatives without any support from Republican lawmakers. 

Biden told reporters Friday, “I’ve told both Republicans and Democrats, that’s my preference, to work together.” 

“But if I have to choose between getting help right now to Americans who are hurting so badly and getting bogged down in a lengthy negotiation or compromising on a bill that’s up to the crisis, that’s an easy choice,” the president said. “I’m going to help the American people who are hurting now.” 

Based on the country’s slow recovery from the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009, Biden said, “One thing we learned is, you know, we can’t do too much here. We can do too little. We can do too little and sputter.” 

Top White House advisers are hoping to pass the Biden proposal by the first week of March, ahead of a March 15 deadline when current $300-a-week extra payments from the national government to jobless workers on top of less generous state benefits are set to expire. Biden wants to increase the extra federal payments to $400 a week through September. 

A group of 10 Republican senators met with Biden at the White House last week, lobbying to keep the payments at $300 a week but ending them in June. 

FILE – U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris meet with a group of Republican Senators to discuss coronavirus federal aid legislation inside the Oval Office at the White House, Feb. 1, 2021.

Biden also plans to send $1,400 checks to millions of adult Americans, but Yellen said precise details of what income level the payments would be cut off have yet to be worked out. 

Republicans opposed to Biden’s relief package are pointing to an opinion article published in The Washington Post last week by former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, a Democrat, suggesting that the size of Biden’s relief deal could “set off inflationary pressures of a kind we have not seen in a generation.” 

Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, in a CNN interview, said the U.S. is not facing “an economy in collapse.” 

He said it is too soon to enact another big coronavirus relief measure. 

“The ink is hardly dry on the last bill,” Toomey said, referring to a $900 billion package that then-President Donald Trump approved in late December. 

Toomey said that while Biden has “made great speeches on (political) unity, he’s governing from the hard left.” 

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Don’t be fooled – the UK economy is not having a rerun of the 1970s – The Guardian

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Don’t be fooled – the UK economy is not having a rerun of the 1970s  The Guardian



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UK Economy Faces $6.3 Billion Hit From Pingdemic, CEBR Says – BNN

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(Bloomberg) —

The U.K.’s economy could face a loss of more than 4.6 billion pounds ($6.3 billions) in just four weeks if rules on self-isolation following a “ping” from the NHS app aren’t relaxed, according to data from Centre for Economics and Business Research.

Since July 19 “freedom day,” the surge of Covid cases in the U.K. implies has caused increasing number of people will need self-isolate after being contacted by the NHS app, triggering disruption in supply chains. Figures released this week from the NHS track-and-trace app, covering the period from July 8-14, show a record 607,486 self-isolation pings were sent within a week in England.

The government may need to speed up its overhaul of the NHS App, as exemptions introduced for key workers would reduce the overall cost by only 300 million pounds over the period, CEBR said, whereas more than half could be saved by relaxing isolation for those who have had their second vaccination by at least two weeks, they added.

Britain’s economy already showed signs of slowing in July as euphoria following the easing of coronavirus restrictions eased and a resurgence of the coronavirus caused widespread staff shortages. An index based on a survey of purchasing managers by IHS Markit fell unexpectedly to its lowest since March.

Meanwhile, London Mayor Sadiq Khan urged Boris Johnson’s government to relax isolation rules for vaccinated people who come into contact with a Covid-19 case, with the U.K. capital facing major disruption.

Politicians and scientists are now concerned that people are deleting the official Covid-19 mobile phone app, or at least switching off its tracing function, to avoid having to self-isolate.

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Virus resurgence menaces economy just as rescue programs unravel – POLITICO

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The resurgence of the coronavirus is threatening to undercut the U.S. economic recovery and upend Americans’ plans to return to work just as the sweeping social safety net that Congress built during the pandemic is unraveling.

That one-two punch — a new wave of cases followed by the looming expiration of enhanced jobless benefits, a ban on evictions and other rescue programs — is sparking concern among lawmakers and economists who say that while widespread business shutdowns are unlikely, renewed fears of the virus alone can slow the economy just as it’s getting back on track.

That could dampen hiring and keep some workers on the sidelines of the job market — stalling or even reversing the labor recovery, the centerpiece of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda. New unemployment claims jumped last week to 419,000, well above expectations and the highest since mid-May, the Labor Department reported on Thursday.

Biden — whose Gallup approval rating dropped to 50 percent this week, its lowest yet — is already drawing attacks from Republicans over the issue. Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the top GOP tax writer in Congress, said the president has focused too much on pushing his “$4 trillion spending binge” and not enough on the virus.

Jason Furman, a former top economic adviser to President Barack Obama who is close to the current White House economic team, said the West Wing is very aware of the risks to the economy from the spike in Covid cases.

“Any problem that has a 5 to 10 percent chance to derail the economic recovery you are looking at very closely and are worried about,” Furman said.

He said that concern isn’t especially high, however, because even under “the most plausible worst-case scenario,” the risk is that the Delta variant “takes what was a very fast recovery and turns it into just a fast recovery.”

Another person familiar with the economic team’s discussions confirmed that the White House is paying close attention but doesn’t consider the virus a significant threat. Biden has been calling on Americans to get vaccinated, mainly out of concern for people’s safety but also with an eye out for the economy, the person said.

Biden, speaking on Monday after the stock market tumbled as investors braced for a potential rebound of the virus, said, “We can’t let up, especially because of the Delta variant, which is more transmissible and more dangerous.”

Coronavirus cases have been rising nationwide and are back to their highest level since early May as the highly contagious variant spreads across the country. The sharp uptick has reignited fears of the pandemic, particularly as cases rise among young children who are unable to get a vaccine and even among those who have been fully vaccinated.

“If people don’t feel safe, they’re going to close schools. If people don’t feel safe, they’re not going to go back to work,” said Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve economist. “The recovery — it’s going, but it’s still vulnerable.”

While it’s far too early to gauge the fallout from the increase in cases, any Delta-driven jobs slowdown is likely to be most pronounced in blue states, where higher percentages of residents are vaccinated but where people are also less willing to take risks as coronavirus cases rise. A CBS News poll this week showed that nearly 3 in 4 fully vaccinated Americans are worried about the Delta variant, compared to less than half of those who are not fully vaccinated or who have not received any shots at all.

Those same Democratic-led states also have the most jobs left to recover since they had stricter shutdown orders in place initially and then reopened more slowly. Roughly 8 million of the 10 million jobs that are still missing in the economy from before the pandemic are in blue states, said Arindrajit Dube, a labor economist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

The slowdown in jobs growth, then, is likely to be most acute in the states where the need is greatest. And given how much economic activity those states generate, the ripple effects on the macroeconomy will be more severe.

“If you have highly populous parts of the country who have taken Covid seriously the entire time, and those people get afraid, then you have at least a noticeable slowing in the recovery,” said Sahm, now a senior fellow at the Jain Family Institute.

If Delta continues to spread, the economic shock would come as huge swaths of Americans are still struggling to get back on their feet.

While wages have been rising, particularly for low-income workers in leisure and hospitality, those gains have been outpaced by inflation. And more than 1 in 3 American adults have less in emergency savings now than before the pandemic, despite the more than $5 trillion Congress has pumped into the economy since March 2020 in stimulus and relief funds, according to a Bankrate.com survey released on Wednesday.

“That really underscores how much we need to restore jobs,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton. “All of those issues that really plague low-income households have not gone away. We bought some time, but the clock is expiring.”

The end of various social safety net programs will affect tens of millions of Americans. Survey data from the Census Bureau shows 3.6 million households say they are somewhat or very likely to face eviction in the next two months as the nationwide moratorium expires at the end of July. More than 12 million Americans continue to receive some form of jobless benefits, which will be slashed or cut entirely by Labor Day.

And some 42 million student loan borrowers will need to resume payments in October unless the Biden administration acts — and 2 in 3 say it will be difficult for them to pay the bill, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts survey this month.

The ultimate risk is if those and other programs run out at the same time that a major coronavirus outbreak leads to a pullback in economic spending, a slowdown in hiring or an increased hesitancy to find work for fear of catching the virus.

“If we are to see a significant wave in the end of summer, early fall, then we are likely to see an environment where the economic impact will be much greater if there isn’t additional fiscal support,” said Gregory Daco, the chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics.

Congress has been preoccupied in recent months not with short-term stimulus but longer-term initiatives, namely a bipartisan infrastructure plan and a multitrillion-dollar spending package for child care, health care, education and climate, Daco said. In short order, too, lawmakers will also have to take action on urgent items including the budget and the debt ceiling.

“Those are likely to be the key focus,” he said. “So there might be a significant disconnect between the potential need for additional fiscal stimulus and Congress’ focus on more medium-term plans.”

In the meantime, the Delta variant is giving Republicans fresh ammunition to rail against the multitrillion spending package they have long slammed as an expensive Democratic wishlist. Brady, the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, said Tuesday he’s hopeful the president will now “turn away from his distraction on another $4 trillion spending binge” to focus on coronavirus and the economy.

“I’m worried that almost since Day One, six months ago, [Biden] took his eye off defeating the virus and rebuilding the economy,” Brady said. “The president is scrambling now to make up for that lack of attention, but I worry that it’s too late.”

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