Economic activity 'contracted sharply and abruptly' in US on Covid-19: Fed

President Donald Trump speaks in an address to the nation from the Oval Office at the White House about the coronavirus
Amid the global coronavirus pandemic that took a toll on economies across the world, the US too have witnessed a 'sharp and abrupt contration' in economy across all regions of the country.

"The hardest-hit industries - because of social distancing measures and mandated closures - were leisure and hospitality, and retail aside from essential goods," the Federal Reserve said in its latest survey on economic conditions, known as the Beige Book, based on information collected from its 12 regional reserve banks before April 6. These sectors also witnessed most job cuts along with manufacturing and energy sectors.

Sales at stores and restaurants plunged in March by the largest amount on records dating back to 1992. The nation's industrial output fell by the largest amount since the end of World War IFI, while the outbreak kept ravaging the global oil market.

Economists now project a record-shattering 40% annual decline in US economic output for the April-June quarter. While growth is expected to rebound in the second half of the year, economists at JPMorgan Chase have forecast that the U.S. economy will still shrink 7% for 2020 as a whole.

On Wednesday, the government said U.S. retail sales plummeted 8.7% in March, an unprecedented decline, as the outbreak brought most commerce to a halt.

According to World Economic Outlook (WEO) by IMF, the US economy is expected to contract by 5.9 per cent this year.

The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday predicted that the world economy would shrink 3% this year, the worst outcome since the Great Depression.

That is hammering oil prices, threatening the solvency of many oil drillers and putting many of their employees out of work. Global demand for oil will fall this year by the most ever due to economic lockdowns around the world, the International Energy Agency said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, President Trump said that the United States has passed the peak on coronavirus cases, and this has put it in a very strong position to finalize new guidelines allowing some states to quickly ease up on social distancing. However, the industry executives cautioned him that the return to normalcy will be anything but swift.

US coronavirus toll

More than 630,000 Americans have tested positive for Covid-19 so far and total fatalities as on Wednesday were 28,326, the highest for any country in the world.
The country recorded nearly 2,600 additional deaths from the virus in 24 hours, a new record and the heaviest daily toll of any country, Johns Hopkins University said.

United States' Covid-29 tests

The United States has rapidly developed the most expansive and accurate testing system anywhere in the world and have completed more than 3.3 million tests.

"To date, we have authorized 48 separate coronavirus tests and the FDA is working with 300 companies and labs to widen our capacity still further," he said.

The Abbott Labs announced that it is has developed an antibody test that will determine if someone has been previously infected with the coronavirus and potentially developed immunity.

"The administration is also distributing vast amounts of medical supplies to states across the country. Through project air bridge, which has been an amazing success they have completed 44 flights, and an additional 56 like scheduled in the near future," Trump said.

In total, through all channels, the federal government has developed and delivered 39.4 million N95 masks, 431 million gloves, 57 million surgical masks and 10.2 million gowns. It ordered 500 million masks and they will be coming shortly and have distributed 100 million masks, he said.

"The vaccines have to be tested because it takes a longer period of time, but we have some great potential therapies already, and we will see how they are working. We will be able to report on that over the next week or two," he said, adding that at least 35 clinical trials of promising therapies are now underway.

United Nations on Covid-19 vaccine

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that a Covid-19 vaccine may be the only thing that can bring back "normalcy," hoping for just that before the end of the year.

"A safe and effective vaccine may be the only tool that can return the world to a sense of 'normalcy,' saving millions of lives and countless trillions of dollars," he added during a video conference with the 50 or so African countries that are members of the United Nations.

Guterres said his appeal on March 25 for $2 billion in donations for a comprehensive UN humanitarian response to the pandemic had so far raised about 20 percent of that amount.


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