US markets in sharp drop amid rollercoaster over coronavirus | The Guardian

US stock markets closed sharply lower again on Thursday as fears about fallout from the virus outbreak sent more shudders through the financial world.

The Dow Jones sank 968 points, or 3.6%, wiping out most of its surge of 1,173 points a day earlier. Treasury yields sank to more record lows as investors plowed money into low-risk investments.

Markets have been stuck on a rollercoaster for weeks because of uncertainty about how much damage the outbreak of the new coronavirus will do to the global economy.

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The Fed’s emergency rate cut was a big mistake  | Edition.cnn

Fearing the US economy would fall into a recession due to the coronavirus, the Fed pushed through an emergency rate cut for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis. Yet, our research shows that the US economy came into this epidemic in more resilient cyclical shape than the Fed — and most economists — realize. This rate cut could do more harm than good.

What they may not appreciate is that an economy isn’t always susceptible to shocks. Rather, it needs to be in a cyclical “window of vulnerability” for a negative shock to tip it into recession.

Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in the summer of 2005 and also caused significant damage to the regional and national economy. But it didn’t trigger a US recession. Nor did Japan’s December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, which occurred before ramped-up wartime spending boosted the economy. The reason was that — as indicated by reliable leading indexes we’ve long monitored — the US economy was not in a recessionary window of vulnerability on either of those occasions and could therefore weather those shocks.

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Brexit: Preparations cost government more than £4bn says watchdog | BBC

Government departments spent more than £4bn on preparations for leaving the EU, says the public spending watchdog.

The National Audit Office said this figure included spending on staff, external advice and advertising.

A Treasury spokesperson said the government had made “all necessary funds available” to ensure the country was prepared for leaving the EU.

But the Lib Dems claimed “billions of pounds have been thrown away in a bid to paper over the Tories’ Brexit mess”.

The NAO stressed in its report that it was not making a judgement on whether the spending represented value for money.

It also emphasised that the figures represented a “minimum estimated level of spend” due to “limitations” in the data provided by departments.

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Are High Mask Prices The Problem Or The Solution? | NPR

Last month, Daniel Tamasi, an IT manager in St. Louis, Missouri, decided he wanted to take some extra precautions against coronavirus. He has a two-year old, and he and his wife are expecting, so he started searching online for masks to protect his family. “I thought it was going to be my usual two-to-three minute Amazon search and, you know, I’d be done with it,” he says.

He quickly found out that Amazon didn’t offer its standard, two-day shipping for Prime members like him. In fact, the earliest he could find a delivery was about a month out. “So I went to the online stores of basically every major pharmacy — CVS, Walgreens, Target, and those sort of places — and they were all out of stock.” Next he tried brick-and-mortar retailers around St. Louis. Still no luck.

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Japan’s real wages post first rise in four months in January | Reuters

TOKYO, March 6 (Reuters) – Japan’s inflation-adjusted real wages rose for the first time in four months in January, official data showed on Friday, offering a hopeful sign for the economy as risks from the coronavirus crisis overshadow the outlook.

  Japan’s economy is under pressure from the hit to tourism and output amid the coronavirus outbreak, which has emerged as a threat to growth in the current quarter.

 Real wages, a gauge of household purchasing power, rose 0.7% in January from a year earlier, labour ministry data showed, following a revised 1.1% decline in the previous month.

The uptick marked the first rise since September, the data showed.

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