The month of March brought an onslaught of news requiring a daily reassessment of risks. The signs of recession are spreading: empty roads, closed stores, cancelled flights, postponed events and idled workers.
Today’s circumstances defy comparison to any recent experience. The spread of COVID-19 has not yet reached its peak in the U.S. As long as the rate of diagnoses continues to increase, commerce will be impaired, markets will be volatile and forecasting will be hazardous.
So, an economic outlook hinges critically on bending the contagion curve, and we expect this to be achieved in the second quarter. Decisive measures taken today, including social distancing, near-zero interest rates, and $1,200 checks distributed to eligible recipients, should help to keep the crisis from causing prolonged damage.
As our forecast table shows, we will see wide swings in the coming quarters. Scary readings should eventually fade as normal patterns of life are re-established.
Key Economic Indicators