Although heightened measures have been implemented across the country, Americans have reason to be optimistic about the post-coronavirus future.
The United States has the third-largest population behind China and India, respectively, but suffers a relatively low COVID-19 fatality rate. Approximately 6,000 lost their lives to the virus against nearly 250,000 confirmed cases. China, as many are well aware, continues to release false numbers about rates of infection and deaths. India appears to be at the beginning of its bout with the pandemic.
But American optimism about the future has not waned. The stringent protocols that include sheltering in place and social distancing appear to be tamping down the spread. Many are already looking to warm weather to displace the virus, and economists predict a relatively fast recovery.
“We expect manufacturing to recover somewhat more rapidly than services, as factories are likely to reopen more quickly than non-essential services firms,” according to Goldman Sachs.
Health protocols are expected to “result in sharply lower new infections over the next month, and our baseline is that slower virus spread and adaptation by businesses and individuals should set the stage for a gradual recovery in output starting in May/June.”
More than 6 million people have already filed for unemployment for the first time. That would ordinarily be a harbinger of another Great Depression. But the reality of this massive jobless rate is not lack of jobs. The positions exist, and people are chomping at the bit to get back to work.
The country was in the midst of an economic boom before the pandemic struck. The Trump Administration had favorably renegotiated NAFTA and beaten China soundly in a trade war. Given the federal governments swiftly injected cash into working families’ pockets with stimulus money, there’s every reason for consumer confidence to remain reasonably high.
As evidence of that sentiment, the consumer confidence index dipped only slightly from 169.3 to 167.7. The less than 2-percent drop from its historical record high demonstrates that Americans are in a COVID-19 holding pattern, certain that things will return to normal fairly quickly. Once the virus has been defeated, an economic boom is expected to follow.
“It’s hard to predict these numbers because we’ve never had anything like this where we shut down the U.S. economy for medical reasons. The economy was in very, very good health when we shut it down, and let me just say, we’re very sympathetic to the people who don’t have a job,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said.
“I don’t know what the numbers are going to be this quarter. What I do think is, we are gonna kill this virus. We’re gonna reopen this economy. And in the third quarter of this year, you’re gonna see this economy bounce back with very large GDP numbers and very low unemployment back to where we were beforehand.”
Sec. Mnuchin’s sentiments are considered well-founded, given the stimulus package has vital small business support, such as no-interest loans. Businesses may qualify for no repayment if they keep people on the job through the crisis.
“One issue I would point out is that we are doing these rolling lockdowns. So, some parts of the country (are) locked down, other parts not so much right now,” Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo reportedly said. “Because of that, there are risks later in the year that we will see a slowdown. But I think you’re going to see a big rebound, in the fourth quarter, big time.”