Mnuchin on Whether U.S. in Recession: ‘I Don’t Think It’s Terribly Relevant’

By Melanie Arter | March 23, 2020 | 3:56pm EDT
(Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

( - Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said it’s not “terribly relevant” whether or not the United States is currently in recession.

“I don't think it's terribly relevant. Are we going to have reduced economic activity this quarter? Absolutely. When people focus on recessions, it's because of prolonged economic environment. This is a very unique situation we've never had before,” he told “Fox News Sunday” when asked whether the U.S. was currently in a recession.

“This is the government has self-imposed shutting down large parts of the economy, and as soon as we can get the medical situation under control, we are going to reopen it to the extent we have kept all these small businesses in business. We have kept workers with them. When we reopen the economy, the economy is going to bounce back significantly,” he said.

Mnuchin was asked about congressional efforts to pass a coronavirus relief bill. He said some of the highlights are small business retention loans so employers can pay their workers two weeks of pay plus some overhead using loans that will be forgiven.

Let me just walk you through the highlights of the package, because the president is very determined to protect American workers, a major part of our economy to shut down, and the president wants to protect them. 

So the first parts are what I call small business retention loans. So if you are a small business, you will get two weeks of cash flow to pay your workers. You need to retain them. You will also get some overhead, and if you do that, those loans will be forgiven. That's half of our workforce. That will allow small businesses to keep people and make sure when we open the economy, they are up and running.

The second part is direct deposits. The average direct deposit or check for a family of four will be approximately $3,000. You can think of this as a bridge to get through this quickly. The third component is enhanced unemployment insurance for people that are laid off during the coronavirus, and the fourth component is a significant package working with the Federal Reserve, up to $4 trillion of liquidity that we can use to support the economy. 

We can leverage our equity working with the Federal Reserve. On top of that, the president is determined hospitals need money, a very significant amount of money for hospitals and medical professionals. 


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