In Brief

Trump calls for $850bn coronavirus stimulus package

US citizens could be give $1,000 as part of ‘most dramatic stimulus effort since the Great Recession’

Donald Trump has called for an emergency $850bn (£702bn) economic stimulus package to deal with the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, the president said: “It’s going to be big, it’s going to be bold, and the level of enthusiasm to get something done, I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like it.”

With talks between the White House and Congress expected to be fast-tracked, the package would constitute the “most dramatic stimulus effort seen since the Great Recession of 2009”, The Independent reports.

The Washington Post explains that the plan “would be mostly devoted to flooding the economy with cash”, either through a payroll tax cut or some other mechanism.

Some $50bn (£41bn) will also be directed specifically to helping the airline industry, the paper adds.

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The $850bn package may come in addition to another $100bn-plus (£82.5bn) package that aims to provide paid sick leave, unemployment insurance and other benefits for workers impacted by the virus’ spread.

In what The Daily Telegraph labels a “sudden embrace of what has been a signature policy of left-wing politicians”, Trump also wants to hand Americans more than $1,000 (£825) in direct payments, as part of a further economic relief programme.

However, whether the massive cash injections will stave off economic catastrophe is not yet know. Reuters reports that “the coronavirus shockwaves rippling through US stocks are forcing investors to contemplate outcomes more dire than a recession”. 

The news agency adds that these outcomes include several quarters of declining economic activity, a credit crisis or a depression.

“This market looks like it has already priced in most of a garden variety recession,” said Frances Donald, global chief economist at Manulife Investment Management. “It is now on top of that having to price in some probability of a credit crisis.”

Forecasters at Goldman Sachs and other banks are now projecting a steep economic contraction in at least the second quarter, as governments in the United States and Europe start shutting restaurants, closing schools and calling on citizens to stay home.

“But there is hope among some economists that economy will start expanding again later this year - depending in part on efforts to contain the virus” says Reuters.

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