Mnuchin downplays possibility of recession amid coronavirus outbreak
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Posted on : March 16, 2020
Washington (CNN)Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Sunday downplayed the likelihood of an economic recession as the economy takes a beating from the coronavirus outbreak.
“The real issue is not the economic situation today. The real issue is what economic tools are we going to use to make sure we get through this, because this is a unique situation,” he said. “Later in the year, obviously, the economic activity will pick up as we confront this virus.”
Anxiety over coronavirus’ spread across the US has shocked financial markets. The Trump administration has floated options on how to curb the financial impact of the virus and early Saturday morning the House passed a coronavirus relief bill to help small businesses and workers.
In the interview, Mnuchin also defended President Donald Trump’s address to the nation Wednesday night despite its numerous inaccuracies, including the misleading presentation of restrictions on travel from Europe that was later clarified by the administration.
“The President was very clear — he wanted to address a very important point, which was he made the move to shut down travel so that we shut down more cases coming in,” Mnuchin said. “He wanted to reassure the American public — I don’t think in an Oval Office address you can address every single issue as you’re discussing it.”
Trump neglected in his speech Wednesday to mention that the European travel ban would not apply to Americans, and he inaccurately said the ban would apply to cargo as well as people.
“I don’t think he got things wrong at all,” Mnuchin said. “And we were very clear that people misinterpreted the comment on cargo.”
This story has been updated with additional details from Mnuchin’s Sunday interview.