Coronavirus economics: roundup of radical policy steps
Thursday, March 26, 2020       23:04 WIB

London, March 26, 2020 (AFP)
Governments and central banks around the world are ripping up the policy rulebook as they battle to immunise their economies from deeper coronavirus carnage.
Printing new money, gargantuan debt spending, loan guarantees, tax breaks and even direct payments to workers are all in the highly unorthodox mix.
AFP surveys the latest responses by major economies on Thursday as COVID-19 has spread from China to the rest of the world, making a global recession all but inevitable:
- $5 trillion -
Despite US President Donald Trump's war of words with China over who's to blame for the pandemic, he joined Xi Jinping and other G20 leaders in vowing a "united front".
After an online summit, the group of advanced and major emerging economies noted they were injecting $5 trillion into the global economy to counter the crisis.
The G20 leaders also pledged to craft a "robust" financial package to support poorer nations, where observers fear COVID-19 could rage unchecked without outside help.
- Wartime investment -
The single biggest stimulus package is coming in the United States where Senate leaders and the White House early Wednesday agreed on a $2 trillion plan of support.
Feuding Republicans and Democrats overcame their differences to clinch a "wartime level of investment into our nation", Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
The package will put cash directly into the hands of Americans, provides grants to small businesses and hundreds of billions of dollars in loans for larger corporations including airlines, and expands unemployment benefits.
- Ready, aim, fire -
The Federal Reserve has kept up near-daily announcements to keep dollars flowing, in addition to slashing its main lending rate to near zero.
The Fed vowed this week to buy unlimited amounts of government debt -- akin to printing money. On Thursday, chairman Jerome Powell said there was more to come.
"When it comes to this lending, we're not going to run out of ammunition. That doesn't happen," he said on NBC, as US weekly jobless claims soared to an astonishing 3.3 million.
- ECB bazooka -
The European Central Bank is also bringing out its big guns, discarding limits on previous rounds of "quantitative easing" whereby it intervenes directly to buy bonds.
The ECB has launched a 750-billion-euro ($822-billion) Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme, to keep embattled governments and businesses flush with cheap credit.
Buying under its previous asset purchase programme -- which has swelled to over 2.6 trillion euros since 2015 -- was restricted to 33 percent of any one country's bonds.
EU leaders on Thursday were debating further support, possibly tapping a eurozone rescue fund, but divisions remain over the radical idea of pooling their debts.
The Fed, ECB and Bank of Japan have joined other central banks in enhancing currency swaps to maintain a plentiful supply of dollars running through seized-up credit markets.
- Breaching taboos -
Germany plans to abandon its constitutional debt limits and raise 156 billion euros ($168 billion) in new borrowing to stop Europe's largest economy from going under.
Others including Britain and France are resorting to levels of state intervention unseen since World War II.
The European Union has suspended limits on members' debt and deficit levels, offering a hand in particular to worst-affected Italy.
- Retreat in Asia -
An ominous portent of what awaits world growth this year came with Singapore reporting its biggest quarterly contraction since the 2008 financial crisis.
The biggest national lockdown yet was underway in India, affecting 1.3 billion people.
The government announced an economic welfare package worth 1.7 trillion rupees ($22.5 billion) to help the poorest Indians, with direct cash transfers and food subsidies.
burs-jit/wai

Sumber : AFP

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