US economy shrinks at fastest rate since 2008

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The US economy suffered its most severe contraction in more than a decade in the first quarter of the year, as the country introduced lockdowns to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The world’s largest economy sank at an annual rate of 4.8%, according to official figures released on Wednesday.

It marked the first contraction since 2014, ending a record expansion.

But the figures just hint at the full crisis, since many of the restrictions were not put in place until March.

The pandemic “is causing tremendous human and economic hardship across the United States and around the world”, policymakers at America’s central bank said on Wednesday.

The US has tried to cushion the economic blow with nearly $3tn (£2.4tn) in new spending, including direct payments to many families. The Federal Reserve has also taken with a slew of emergency steps, including lowering interest rates to near zero.

On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the bank would maintain those levels until it was “confident that the economy has weathered recent events and is on track”. But he warned that the ongoing crisis would “weigh heavily” on the economy.

“Will there be a need to do more? I would say the answer to that will be a yes,” Mr Powell said at a virtual press conference.

Read more via The Washington Post

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