Never— not in 1929, not in 2008 — has the American economy plunged so quickly and precipitously into what is certain to be a deep recession.
The US federal government has begun to respond to the looming economic crisis through both monetary and fiscal policy. The Federal Reserve lowered interest rates to near zero and Congress passed a $2 trillion stimulus package,with the possibility of more to come.
But the virus’s human toll — beyond more than 336,000 confirmed cases and 8,700 deaths (as of 6 April) — is just beginning to come into focus. It is increasingly clear that the pandemic is also exposing critical areas of weakness in American social policy and the social safety net.