U.S. needs a ‘really, really big’ relief package to keep its economy afloat, says Paul Krugman

FAN Editor

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman.

Panayiotis Tzamaros | ullstein bild via Getty Images

The U.S. may need several hundred billion dollars a month in “disaster relief” to keep the economy afloat as a raging coronavirus outbreak continues to suppress prospects for workers and businesses, Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman said on Thursday.

“We really are still very much in the disaster relief stage,” he told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia.”

“A lot of people are going to be out of work, a lot of businesses are going to be stressed. We need to just make life tolerable for them,” he added.

Krugman, an economics professor at City University of New York’s Graduate Center, said it’s difficult to put a total price tag on an ideal relief package for the U.S. But he stressed that a “really, really big” one is needed given that the U.S. hasn’t managed to contain the virus.

A lot of people are going to be out of work, a lot of businesses are going to be stressed. We need to just make life tolerable for them.

Paul Krugman

Nobel prize-winning economist

The economist, whose research interest includes macroeconomics and international economics, won the Nobel prize in 2008 for his analysis on trade patterns and location of economic activity.

“We’re still 11 million jobs down from where we were before this thing hit and all of those people are without wages, state local governments are in extreme financial distress, thousands of businesses — maybe hundreds of thousands — are on the verge of collapse,” he said.

“So we need a lot to keep this thing afloat.”  

Still, Krugman said there’s no indication that McConnell would agree to a large relief bill or extend enhanced unemployment benefits which have been the “most important policy” to cushion the pandemic’s economic impact.

Republicans, he noted, viewed those benefits as “rewarding people for not working” and therefore, may not be inclined to renew that payout.

“That was far more effective than anything else in the package, but we’ve seen very, very little … on the part of Senate Republicans to resume enhanced employment benefits,” he said.

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