Optimistic predictions of a recovering coronavirus economy could give millions of Americans wonderful news to cheer about.
Democrats, on the other hand, are terrified.
One of the top economists from the Obama administration has cast those fears larger than life. “We are about to see the best economic data we’ve seen in the history of this country,” Jason Furman said in a videoconference call in early April to top bipartisan political officials, including former Cabinet secretaries and Federal Reserve leaders.
Hold on — what about all those dire predictions of a disaster to rival the Great Depression?.
“Everyone looked puzzled and thought I had misspoken,” Furman said in an interview with Politico magazine. No. He didn’t stutter.
And Furman’s not alone in his opinion. The man who runs the largest bank in the country is not full-throated in his praise but still upbeat: “You could see a fairly rapid recovery,” JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said at a financial-services conference Tuesday. “I give it some pretty good odds.” He added that America is “already seeing the positive effects of the opening-up taking place, at least for the economy.”
The S&P 500 Index shot up to its highest level since early March on Tuesday — fueled by a combination of relaxed lockdowns, the government’s stimulus package and the buoyant outlook on a likely COVID-19 vaccine.
The Congressional Budget Ofice conducted a recent analysis predicting more than 21% annualized growth in the third quarter of this year. If that comes to pass, said top Trump economic adviser Kevin Hassett, “we will see the strongest quarter in history” — and just as the election season gains more steam.
All of this is why Democrats are biting their nails.
From Politico: “‘This is my big worry,’ said a former Obama White House official who is still close to the former president. Asked about the level of concern among top party officials, he said, ‘It’s high — high, high, high, high.'”
Strategists were constructing a case against President Donald Trump predicated on a prolonged virus-enabled torpor. Polls are showing likely Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden slightly leading over Trump.
But with the direction the economy appears to be headed, the Biden campaign might want to put a hold on any political ads showing empty storefronts and file footage of Depression-era bread lines.
“Truck loads are growing again. Air travel and hotel bookings are up slightly. Mortgage applications are rising. And more people are applying to open new businesses … ,” said The Wall Street Journal. “For the first time since the pandemic forced widespread U.S. business closures in March, it appears conditions in some corners of the economy aren’t getting worse, and might even be improving.”
Some are calling for quicker rollouts and reopenings, but prudence is what likely will win the day for the nation’s workers and businesses. A rush could spark a predicted and dreaded “second wave” of COVID-19 outbreaks that almost assuredly would torpedo forward progress.
For now, circumstances are shaping up to spell good news for tens of millions of Americans. Reopening businesses — while being carefully mindful of health and safety precautions — clearly is in the national interest.
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