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🎙“I knew, as everyone knows, that the easiest way to attract a crowd is to let it be known that at a given time and a given place someone is going to attempt something that in the event of failure will mean sudden death.” - See who said it and why it matters at the bottom.
Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images
On Thursday President Trump said the country was going to war with COVID-19. He all but abandoned that war yesterday, saying at a news conference, “At some point, we’re going to open up our country, and it’s going to be fairly soon."
What's happening: While Trump has waffled and the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have bickered over how best to deploy a fiscal response, the Federal Reserve has unleashed an onslaught of monetary policy power.
Why it matters: Central banks had surpassed the traditional confines of monetary policy long before the virus outbreak.
Where it stands: "The Fed knows they need to be aggressive, need to be creative and need to do everything in their power to keep the economy going through this really difficult time," Michelle Meyer, head of U.S. economics at Bank of America, tells Axios.
The big picture: Having already stepped in for the country's politicians, the Fed on Monday greenlit vehicles to provide aid to employers, municipalities and households, and is expected to soon announce a Main Street Business Lending Program for small and medium-sized businesses.
Reality check: "The Fed is acting as the plumber," Oxford Economics' chief U.S. economist Gregory Daco tells Axios. "It’s ensuring the pipes don’t burst, but there is little it can do to control the water pressure."
The coronavirus outbreak caused the largest collapse in business activity ever recorded in the eurozone, even before widespread lockdown measures. (IHS Markit)
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are close to a deal for a massive coronavirus stimulus package. (The Hill)
Finance ministers and central bankers from the world’s 20 largest economies agreed to develop an “action plan” to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, but offered no details. (Reuters)
President Trump signed an executive order to prevent hoarding and price gouging of crucial medical supplies and the Justice Department announced it had already launched hoarding investigations to carry out the order. (Bloomberg)
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus crisis, International Olympic Committee senior member Dick Pound said. (Reuters)
Nearly two-thirds of Americans say their access to household goods has worsened in the past week, a new poll from Ipsos and Axios shows.
What's happening: Goods like toilet paper, hand sanitizer and basic foods have gone missing for an increasing number of people as the COVID-19 outbreak hits home and shoppers look to stock up on needed items.
What they're saying: "We are starting to see more dramatic strains on the supply chain," Chris Jackson, public polling lead at Ipsos, says in an email.
Watch this space: Americans are losing their jobs at an unprecedented rate, with 22% of poll respondents reporting that they had been furloughed, suspended or told not to return to work.
Methodology: The poll was conducted March 20-23 by Ipsos' KnowledgePanel, based on a nationally representative probability sample of 998 general population adults age 18 or older.
U.S. Treasury yields on one-, two- and three-month maturities all turned negative late Monday, as investors continued to favor short-term debt that functions like cash.
What it means: “What you are seeing today is an example of a flight-to-safety on a massive scale,” Kathy Jones, chief fixed-income strategist at Charles Schwab, told FT on Wednesday when yields first fell below zero.
Major key: The U.S. is the first major economy in which government bond yields have turned negative before the country's central bank announced it would enact policy to push them below zero.
The backup in global supply chains plus a manufacturing and transportation sector already weakened by the U.S.-China trade war are combining to slow the rate of goods deliveries to nearly double their normal times.
What's happening: "Freight carriers are struggling to deliver goods by land, sea or air as the coronavirus pandemic forces Western governments to impose lockdowns, threatening supplies of vital products including medicines into the most affected areas, such as Italy," Reuters reports.
The big picture: Air cargo shipments had been declining since early 2019, and 75% of U.S. companies surveyed by the Institute for Supply Management said two weeks ago their supply chains already had been upended, with most expecting disruptions to continue.
What they're saying: “Supply chain disruption has moved rapidly from east to west,” Mohammed Esa, chief commercial officer for Europe with global logistics group Agility, told Reuters.
What's next: Boeing announced a full work stoppage in Seattle and GE laid off employees making jet engines, per the Wall Street Journal, while major U.S. airlines are discussing putting a stop to all passenger flights.
Quote: "I knew, as everyone knows, that the easiest way to attract a crowd is to let it be known that at a given time and a given place some one is going to attempt something that in the event of failure will mean sudden death."
Why it matters: Magician Harry Houdini, who became the most famous vaudeville act in America in the 1920s, was born on March 24, 1874, in Budapest.