The U.S. shut down its economy. Here’s what needs to happen in order to restart

By Jim Tankersley | New York Times

WASHINGTON — The American economy has stopped working.

We’re going to try turning it off and back on again.

With confirmed cases of the coronavirus escalating rapidly, government officials have almost overnight switched off activity in large sectors of the United States. They want as few people as possible in close contact with one another in order to slow the pandemic, which may be even more widespread than official statistics suggest.

The federal government has discouraged gatherings of 10 or more people. California told 40 million residents to leave the house only for absolute necessities. Bars, shopping malls, dine-in restaurants and a host of other businesses are closing across the country. Millions of people have been laid off, or are about to be.

Just as there is a public health strategy driving the government orders closing businesses and limiting daily activity outside the home, there is also an economic strategy for putting large parts of the economy on ice. It requires aggressive action by the federal government, funded by what would be the most expansive borrowing the country has seen since World War II.

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