White House Warns of 20% Unemployment

White House expresses support for immediate cash payments to Americans as part of coronavirus stimulus package (WaPo 3/17/20)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reportedly “gave lawmakers a dire warning if they failed to act, saying the unemployment rate could spike to nearly 20 percent from the roughly 3.5 percent level it notched in February, according to three people familiar with his comments.” As context, the unemployment rate rose to 10% during the Great Recession and roughly 25% during the Great Depression. Economic forecasts are best taken with a huge grain of salt, and I doubt there’s a serious macroeconomic forecasting model backing this assertion; but it’s a safe bet that the White House is trying to motivate Congress to aggressively respond with fiscal policy.

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