Coronavirus outbreak unlikely to cause US recession, Mnuchin says

Mnuchin’s comments come as a slew of companies in the U.S. and the world take drastic measures to slow the spread of COVID-19

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he doesn't expect the coronavirus outbreak to drag the U.S. economy into a recession.

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"This a unique situation," Mnuchin said Sunday on ABC's “This Week." "We have a situation where travel has been grinding to a halt. We're clearly going to have a slowdown. We're addressing issues for small and medium-sized businesses."

He told "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace he expects a "big rebound" later in the year.

Mnuchin's comments come as a slew of companies in the U.S. and the world take drastic measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, including temporarily shutting down. The country's cruise lines are suspending operations for a month, while the airline industry has suffered as planes idle on the runway due to global travel bans.

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A number of events have also been either canceled or closed off to attendees because of the coronavirus outbreak. Last week, the NBA suspended its season indefinitely, while the NCAA canceled its March Madness tournament. The 2020 Masters golf tournament has been postponed, and the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, was also canceled.

On Saturday, during a White House press conference, Mnuchin said the $8.3 billion package of emergency funding for prevention efforts and research and a House-passed stimulus plan that will extend paid sick leave to a number of Americans were just two phases of the administration’s planned coronavirus response.

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"We have a lot more we need to do with Congress," Mnuchin said. "We will make sure the economy recovers."

Mnuchin said he speaks regularly with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, though he declined to provide further details about their conversations. The Fed is widely expected to dramatically reduce interest rates at its two-day meeting this week, with more than 60 percent of traders pricing in a 100-basis-point cut.

Still, despite efforts by central banks and the federal government to bolster the economy, the global financial rout showed no signs of slowing on Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered its worst week since October 2008, ending with a 12 percent drop and erasing the majority of its gains from 2019.

"We are going into a global recession. The necessary measures to contain the spread of the virus make that unavoidable," Vítor Constâncio, a former vice president of the European Central Bank, said on Twitter last week.

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