Fed’s Kashkari Urges Congress to Act, Suggests Fresh Lockdown
The surging U.S. savings rate means the country can afford to support Americans laid off due to the coronavirus pandemic, while a “hard” lockdown could deliver a faster economic recovery, a senior Federal Reserve official said on Sunday.
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President Neel Kashkari told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that Americans are saving more because they aren’t going out as much during the pandemic, and as a result there would be less need to borrow from abroad to finance additional fiscal aid.
“So while historically we would worry about racking up too much debt, we’re generating the savings ourselves. That means Congress has the resources to support those who are most hurting,” he said.
“Right now the U.S. can fund itself at very, very low rates. Congress should use this opportunity to support the American people and the American economy.”
Kashkari is a voter this year on the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee.
U.S. lawmakers and the Trump administration are wrangling after enhanced unemployment aid for as many as 30 million jobless Americans expired. Democrats and Republicans are looking for common ground on the jobless benefits and other help for an economy sagging under the weight of pandemic-induced shutdowns.
Fed officials, after cutting interest rates aggressively, have repeatedly pointed out the need for more support from the fiscal side to help the nation endure the pandemic. The U.S. central bank last week left interest rates near zero and pledged to use all its tools to support the economy, which shrank at a record pace in the second quarter as the virus spread.
Hopes of a speedy rebound have been dimmed as high-frequency economic indicators suggest a stall in activity given rising or persistently high infection rates in certain parts of the country.
Kashkari said that the path of the economy would hinge on success in getting the pandemic under control, and suggested that while very unpopular, a stringent economic lockdown might be the lesser of two evils to more quickly restore growth and hiring, rather than waiting for the eventual arrival of a vaccine.
“If we were to lock down hard for a month or six weeks, we could get the case count down so that our testing and our contact tracing was actually enough to control it,” Kashkari said.
“If we don’t do that, and we just have this raging virus spread throughout the country with flare-ups and local lockdowns for the next year or two, which is entirely possible, we’re going to see many, many more business bankruptcies.”
©2020 Bloomberg News
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
In The News
Congress returned Monday from its Thanksgiving break hoping to avoid a government shutdown looming at the end of next week — with President Donald Trump being a potential wild card. Hopes for a new coronavirus stimulus package are slim as lawmakers focus on the more limited goal of keeping the government... Read More
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden on Monday announced his senior economic team, confirming after a week of speculation, that he would nominate Janet Yellen, the former Federal Reserve chair, to be the first woman to head the Treasury Department, In a statement, Biden said he... Read More
NEW YORK (AP) — After months of slumping sales and businesses toppling into bankruptcy, Black Friday is offering a small beacon of hope. In normal times, Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year, drawing millions of shoppers eager to get started on their... Read More
WASHINGTON — House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal's attitude toward legislating under a Democratic-led White House might aptly be described as "never let a crisis go to waste." The Massachusetts Democrat wants to take a page from his party's 2009 playbook, when the Obama administration took office amid the wreckage of... Read More
WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will put $455 billion in unspent Cares Act funding into an account that his presumed successor, former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, will need authorization from Congress to use. Mnuchin plans to place the money into the agency's General Fund, a Treasury Department spokesperson said Tuesday. That fund... Read More
WASHINGTON — A top Senate Democrat said Tuesday that she's engaged in bipartisan discussions on COVID-19 aid and urged quick action even if that means "a short-term package for the next few months." "We need to act," said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D- Mich., the fourth-ranking Democrat in that chamber... Read More