• The Financial District


Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned Tuesday (Wednesday, June 17, 2020 in Manila) that the US economy faces a deep downturn with “significant uncertainty” about the timing and strength of a recovery. He cautioned that the longer the recession lasts, the worse the damage that would be inflicted on the job market and businesses.

In testimony to Congress, Powell stressed that the Fed is committed to using all its financial tools to cushion the damage from the coronavirus. But he said that until the public is confident the disease has been contained, “a full recovery is unlikely.” He warned that a prolonged downturn could inflict severe harm — especially to low-income workers who have been hit hardest, Martin Crutsinger wrote for the Associated Press (AP.)

Powell delivered the first of two days of semi-annual congressional testimony to the Senate Banking Committee before he will address the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday. Several senators highlighted the disproportionate impact of the viral outbreak and the downturn on African-Americans and Latinos. Powell expressed his agreement.

“The way the pandemic has hit our economy... has been a real inequality-increaser,” the chairman said, because low-wage service jobs have been hardest hit and are disproportionately held by minorities. “That’s who’s bearing the brunt of this.” He noted that the pandemic also poses “acute risks” for small businesses and their employees. “If a small or medium-sized business becomes insolvent because the economy recovers too slow, we lose more than just that business,” he said. “These businesses are the heart of our economy and often embody the work of generations.”