‘I don’t want to panic on policy measures’ related to coronavirus slowdown

‘I don’t want to panic on policy measures’ related to coronavirus slowdown


White House chief economic advisor Larry Kudlow speaks with reporters on the driveway outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, July 26, 2019.

Yuri Gripas | Reuters

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Larry Kudlow, President Donald Trump’s chief economic advisor, told CNBC on Friday that he doesn’t want to “panic on policy measures” designed to combat the new coronavirus and said that U.S. growth remains strong.

“We would prefer a targeted approach, a rather micro approach,” Kudlow said. “Let’s think about individuals who might lose paychecks because they have to stay home if they get the virus. Let’s think about small businesses that might get hurt by this.”

“I just don’t want to panic. I don’t want to panic on the economy, which looks sound. I don’t want to panic on the virus, which frankly, most Americans are not at risk. And I don’t want to panic on policy measures. Let’s try to be calm and not overreact,” he added.

Kudlow explained that the White House would rather take a more measured response to the virus and hold off on measures that could disrupt local economies such as large-scale quarantines. 

In response to the spread of the new coronavirus around the world, Trump last week authorized the expansion of travel restrictions against Iran and the recommendation that Americans refrain from visiting regions of Italy and South Korea impacted by the disease.

“Can we possibly do this fact by fact, day by day? Because we don’t know what the magnitude of the economy might be in terms of a slowdown,” Kudlow added on Friday. “We don’t actually know what the magnitude of the virus is going to be. Although, frankly, so far it looks relatively contained.”

Those measures followed the White House’s move in January to deny entry to any foreign nationals who have traveled in China, where COVID-19 began. The latest coronavirus figures from Johns Hopkins University show more than 100,000 cases of the virus worldwide and at least 3,300 deaths.

Separate from the public health threat, COVID-19 and fears it could hamstring the global economy has sparked a swoon in U.S. equities and bond yields. The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield sank to a new all-time low on Friday of 0.676% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average tanked more than 2.5%.

The , and on Thursday all sank more than 3% and remain firmly in corrections, each down more than 10% from all-time highs.

The market fears may have persuaded the U.S. Federal Reserve to issue its first emergency, 50-basis-point cut since the financial crisis earlier this week. U.S. lawmakers also approved roughly $8 billion in emergency spending to combat the disease.

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