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🎙“So I pray to the Lord he spare me, and I make it by and by. And I help souls stay out of Hell with what I testify. And maybe when I grab that microphone and never lie that'll merit that he spare me, I won't have to feel that fire.” - See who said it and why it matters at the bottom.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Chair Jerome Powell and the Federal Reserve reacted with unprecedented speed to the coronavirus pandemic, but the central bank's actions could unleash a Pandora's box of unintended consequences.
Why it matters: The Fed is an unelected institution whose head is chosen by the president and its new programs have paved the way for its spending powers to be significantly amplified and politicized.
What it means: The loans made through its so-called special purpose vehicles give the Fed a strategic interest in keeping those companies afloat.
What's happening: The Fed is prohibited from buying debt not backed by the government and from making loans that lose money, but it has emergency lending authority for “unusual and exigent circumstances,” an undefined term.
Flashback: The Fed announced in 2018 that it would reduce the purchases of U.S. government debt and mortgage-backed securities it had been accumulating since 2009 to stem the global financial crisis.
The intrigue: The Fed has set itself up to repeat this process, but now the buying would include corporate and municipal bonds as well as direct lending to companies.
Why you'll hear about this again: Having now opened its lending facility to private companies and accepted the possibility of losses, it's difficult to make the case that the Fed cannot "bail out" ordinary Americans.
Crude oil futures fell by 16% to as low as $15 a barrel and some buyers in Texas are selling for as little as $2 a barrel, raising the possibility that American producers may soon have to pay customers to take crude off their hands. (Bloomberg)
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state appears to be “on the other side” of the coronavirus outbreak. The death toll in the U.S. topped 40,000 and the number of cases rose to 755,000. (Axios)
Short sellers' bets that the stock market will fall have been raised to their highest level since 2016. (WSJ)
Reactions to the coronavirus pandemic and "stay at home" orders have varied greatly across the U.S., but new data from CivicScience shows that a plurality of Americans are leaving their homes just once a week.
Between the lines: "Those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or know someone who has been are more likely to cap their trips out at 1-2 times per week," CivicScience analysts note.
Even if you believe every optimistic scenario about how the coming months could unfold, America is still looking at a hole in our finances and society that could take generations to dig out of, Axios co-founders Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen report.
Why it matters: President Trump and his top officials keep telling viewers that the economy will come roaring back within months of getting the virus under control. But the long-term price of the pandemic is just barely beginning to emerge.
Consider these projections, just three months into the crisis — with untold months of twists and pain ahead:
Business borrowing also is setting records.
On top of all that is the human cost.
The bottom line: When the health crisis ends, the effort to rebuild America will just be beginning.
Despite falling into the fastest bear market ever this year, since the Fed announced its unlimited bond-buying program on March 23 the S&P 500 has risen by 25% and the Nasdaq has gained 21%.
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
Widespread social distancing has forced Americans to get creative with how they connect to one another, including romantically, Axios' Ursula Perano writes.
The big picture: The dating industry was poised to take a hit amid the coronavirus outbreak as potential suitors are generally unable to meet in-person.
The dating app Bumble saw increased user engagement as Americans adjusted to social distancing last month.
Web-based first dates are becoming the new normal, with platforms seeing a dramatic increase in users turning to calls and video chats.
Between the lines: The dating industry argues that digital-first dates could become the standard beyond the COVID-19 outbreak.
Quote: "So I pray to the Lord he spare me, and I make it by and by. And I help souls stay out of Hell with what I testify. And maybe when I grab that microphone and never lie that'll merit that he spare me, I won't have to feel that fire."
Why it matters: Hip hop wordsmith Killer Mike was born on April 20, 1975. The above quote is from his masterpiece "R.A.P. Music." He is also one half of the hip-hop duo Run the Jewels.
Unrelated: This YouTube video about how Jerome Powell defeats COVID-19 is good for a laugh.