President Trump's chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow suggested Monday the U.S. economy could bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic within four to eight weeks, as the federal government commits trillions of dollars to protect workers and businesses from the health crisis.
"I still believe, given our assistance package, and hope and maybe pray that we're at a four- to eight-week period, we can get a pretty good snapback. A good snapback," Kudlow told reporters outside of the White House. "That's my hope."
The U.S. has the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, with at least 337,971 people infected, according to Johns Hopkins University data. More than 9,600 people in the country have died from the virus.
The depth of the economic downturn is still unknown, but early data indicates it will be severe: In the final two weeks of the month, a record-shattering 10 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits, surging past the levels seen during the worst of the 2008 financial crisis.
Restaurants, bars, hotels, airlines, cruise lines, automakers and entertainment venues have been hit hard by the pandemic as a growing number of jurisdictions have ordered the closure of nonessential businesses and directed residents to stay at home.
Estimates vary drastically for how high unemployment will climb, but economists broadly agree that it will be grim. An analysis published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis last week projected that unemployment could hit 32 percent in the second quarter as more than 47 million workers are laid off because of the pandemic. That would exceed the 24.9 percent peak during the Great Depression.
"The sooner we begin to reopen, the faster that snapback is going to be," Kudlow said. "We came into this with a very strong economy. It got interrupted by the virus, if that's the right word. if this thing can be stabilized fairly soon, yes I do think we'll snap back. It may be more of a prayer than I hope, I understand that, but I'm an optimist."