Mar 15, 2017

Our economic Achilles' heel

Susan Walsh/AP

Janet Yellen and the Federal Reserve have repeatedly voiced their concerns over businesses not investing in plants and equipment, not only because it would represent job-creating economic activity, but because it helps increase future growth by making workers more productive.

U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

The Fed noted in its policy statement released today that this measure has "firmed somewhat" since it last met. And this is true, technically—overall business investment grew 0.04% faster in the final quarter of last year than it did a year before. But compared to even 2014, this number is depressingly low.

Why it matters: Surveys of business owners and consumers alike show skyrocketing confidence in the economy. But when it comes to actual spending — be it capital investments or consumer spending — the numbers just aren't there. Whether economic activity rises in the coming months to match confidence levels, or the reverse, will tell us everything we need to know about the 2017 economy.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 p.m. ET: 885,687 — Total deaths: 44,216 — Total recoveries: 185,447Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 p.m. ET: 190,089 — Total deaths: 4,127 — Total recoveries: 7,141Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Vice President Mike Pence said that White House modeling suggests "Italy may be the most comparable area to the United States" in terms of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
  4. State updates: Washington and California appear to have slowed their surges of new cases — Florida cases have been doubling the past four days, approaching 7,000.
  5. China: The coronavirus could threaten D.C.'s bipartisan China consensus.
  6. 2020 update: Bernie Sanders urges Wisconsin to delay April 7 primary.
  7.  🎧 Podcast: The Defense Production Act
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Podcast: The Defense Production Act

The Trump administration has been hesitant to fully invoke the Defense Production Act to address medical supply shortages during the novel coronavirus outbreak. The New York Times reports that the Department of Defense has implemented DPA regularly during Trump’s presidency. Dan goes deeper with the Times' Zolan Kanno-Youngs.

Go deeper... Defense Production Act: What you need to know

Pence: Coronavirus impact in U.S. may be "most comparable" to Italy

Vice President Mike Pence told CNN Wednesday that White House modeling suggests "Italy may be the most comparable area to the United States" in terms of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: Italy has become one of the global epicenters of the pandemic, with 105,792 cases and 12,428 deaths. Public health experts have warned for weeks that the U.S. would be on the same path if it didn't take drastic measures to stem the spread of the virus.

Go deeperArrow22 mins ago - World