Icon: Microphone Breaking economic news podcast series

The COVID-19 economy

Diane Swonk’s podcasts on breaking economic news

Diane Swonk The economic ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic are huge, diverse and far reaching. To help you and your business respond to what’s happening now and plan for what’s next, Diane Swonk, Grant Thornton’s Chief Economist, will analyze the latest economic news in this podcast series.

Spending vs. lending to support the COVID economy At the end of the September Federal Open Markets Committee meeting, long-time Federal Reserve advisor Diane Swonk of Grant Thornton explains what Fed chairman Jay Powell worries about the most. She also answers what more the central bank can do, when it can only "lend, not spend." As Powell well knows, it's up to Congress to spend money to support the COVID economy.

Why Congressional aid is crucial to shore up the COVID-hit economy This podcast pairs with the September issue of Economic Currents written by Grant Thornton's chief economist. The title of the publication this month describes the status of the economy: Mission Unaccomplished, Gridlock Undermines Outlook. Diane Swonk explains why federal aid is needed to shore up the economy in this time of COVID-19 when many individuals and small businesses are struggling, "through no fault of their own," as Fed Chairman Jay Powell has put it.

Employment gains slow down, labor recovery remains fragile Labor market expert Diane Swonk goes behind the headline job numbers to explain which sectors are calling back workers, and which are limited because of social distancing. She talks about additional federal aid needed from Congress to bridge the gap for households that are struggling in the absence of a vaccine and normal job opportunities.

New Federal Reserve policy highlights full employment instead of low inflation Top officials at the Federal Reserve including Lael Brainard and Richard Clarida have recently admitted that raising interest rates during the recovery may have been a mistake. Long-time Fed advisor Diane Swonk of Grant Thornton explains how the central bank's new policy to allow inflation to pick up is expected to draw more people back into the workforce. She attended the Kansas City Fed's symposium usually set in Jackson Hole, Wyoming but held virtually this year.

In change, Fed Chair agrees to let inflation run hotter Diane Swonk is participating in the Federal Reserve's annual symposium, which is virtual this year. Fed Chair Jay Powell managed to kick up excitement on the first day by changing the official policy on inflation, announcing that it will be allowed to exceed the official 2% target. Swonk explains how that can help reduce unemployment for more people. It worked after the Great Recession.

Short supply and caution at the entry-level could cap future home sales Would-be home buyers are finding little inventory of newly built or existing homes. Diane Swonk explains the dynamics between short supply and low rates driving the housing market but also cautions that increasing evictions, a slowing recovery, mortgage deferrals and declining consumer confidence could cool a now-hot market.

Low rates help Wall Street but Main Street needs cash Recent stock market highs may help some, but what about Main Street? Labor economist Diane Swonk of Grant Thornton explains that the average person's plight in the COVID-19 economy diverges from Wall Street for more than one reason, no matter how much the Federal Reserve tries to help.

Housing starts climb in July Economist Yelena Maleyev works with Grant Thornton Chief Economist Diane Swonk, covering housing. July figures for housing starts showed strong demand with short supplies boosting construction in many markets. Diane is still hoping that housing could be the engine that drives us out of recession. Listen for more on the housing market with Yelena Maleyev.

Jobless claims remain high—this is no time to suspend pandemic benefits Labor market economist Diane Swonk acknowledged the slight decrease in new unemployment claims this past week, below one million for the first time since the pandemic hit. That's still historically very high so she is calling on Congress to renew benefits extensions to households as COVID-19 continues to take a toll.

Economy adds 1.8 million jobs, still short of COVID losses The U.S. economy added 1.8 million jobs during July, many in the leisure and hospitality sector as some regions reopened and tourists decided to venture from home. Labor economist Diane Swonk at Grant Thornton talks about the sectors of the economy that are recovering, despite the deficit of jobs lost to the COVID pandemic since February and March.

GDP contracts by almost a third on annualized basis; Fed ties economic recovery to COVID control With much of the country shut down to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 during the spring months, the U.S. economy contracted by almost 33% on an annualized basis for the second quarter of this year. Economists expected April in particular to look bad, but as Diane Swonk at Grant Thornton noted, the numbers on consumer and business retrenchment make for grim reading.

Longtime advisor to the Federal Reserve, Diane Swonk of Grant Thornton, immediately hit on the most important point in the Fed's short statement following the July meeting. "The path of the economy will depend significantly on the course of the virus." Swonk details some of the damage to the economy that worries Fed Chairman Jay Powell.

Pandemic Perspective Listen to excerpts from a proprietary briefing by Grant Thornton Chief Economist Diane Swonk. She explains how dread of COVID-19 kept many consumers at home in February, well before any states shut down. She notes that the pandemic has underlined inequalities of opportunity in the economy. And she looks at how other countries are managing the twin health and economic crises.

Food prices heading up Overall inflation remains relatively low, but the fact is that lots of families are struggling to put food on the table. The costs at the grocery store are rising at a staggering pace. In June, consumer prices rose at the fastest pace in nearly 12 years. Listen for details.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a sharp increase in hiring during May New data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the number of people hired bounced to a record high of 6.5 million in May, as furloughed workers came back. The number of voluntary departures and layoffs fell almost as sharply, by 5.8 million. Labor economist Diane Swonk of Grant Thornton explains more about that improvement and whether it can continue.

Unemployment claims edge lower, continue to top 1 million per week The number of people filing unemployment claims topped 1.4 million in the past week. That's down from the previous week but still several times the normal level outside a pandemic and recession. Labor economist Diane Swonk explains how the jobless situation and fear of COVID-19 together are weighing on economic prospects.

New home construction up in May After stalling during nationwide shutdowns due to COVID-19, the U.S. housing market is showing signs of recovery as we head into summer. Yelena Maleyev, who covers the housing market for the Grant Thornton economics group, talks about the latest data on new home construction, mortgage uptake and more. She works directly with the chief economist, Diane Swonk.

Chief Economist Diane Swonk, discusses the latest unemployment figures The pace of jobless claims slowed this week to 1.5 million. The total number of people currently receiving benefits slipped to just below 21 million. Labor market expert Diane Swonk explains how even those numbers do not cover all of those affected by coronavirus related shutdowns.

Reopening led to new job creation in May but unemployment remains high Labor economist Diane Swonk hails the unexpected creation of new jobs as restaurants and other businesses reopened in May. She cautions that millions still remain out of work due to the coronavirus and shutdowns to contain its spread. Listen for more.

Look for consolidation and gradual reopenings. More than two months into lockdown over the novel coronavirus, Grant Thornton Chief Economist takes a look at where we are and what to expect in the next few months. The tricky part is that while the science appears to be moving quickly toward treatments and a vaccine, the expected 12-18 months time period is almost an eternity for the economy. Listen for more.

Pace of job losses begins to slow The U.S. economy has lost 40 million jobs over ten weeks with retail and other businesses shut down across the country, due to the COVID-19 crisis. Labor markets expert Diane Swonk notes that the pace of losses is slowing, though firms show little sign of wanting to rehire.

Next step: cautious reopening As restaurants and other businesses start to reopen with social distancing, macroeconomist Diane Swonk cautions that consumers' behavior and confidence about safety will affect how quickly business rebounds. Listen for more.

Consumers cut spending to basics online The bright spot in the April retail sales data is online sales, the one area with noticeable strength. More broadly, economist Diane Swonk says consumers and retailers will need to change the ways they interact during the age of COVID-19. Listen for more.

COVID-19 triggers historic job losses Trained as a labor economist, Diane Swonk analyzes the avalanche of job losses over the past month. We're at depression levels of employment now but many of the workers who lost jobs in April expect to be called back soon, when shutdown orders ease. Listen for more details.

Jobless claims continue to climb More than 33 million Americans have lost their jobs during the six weeks the economy has been mostly shut down to try to stop the spread of COVID-19. Some will be rehired when employers tap PPP loans. That relief could be temporary. Labor markets expert Diane Swonk explains.

Consumer spending plummeted 7.6%, the largest drop on record Along with news of more than 30 million job cuts in just six weeks, comes a new report that consumers curtailed their spending sharply in March while increasing their savings against rainy days to come. Listen for more from Grant Thornton’s chief economist Diane Swonk.

Federal Reserve Chairman calls on Congress to do more to rescue the economy Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell used few but blunt words to describe the damage the coronavirus is doing to the economy. Fed advisor Diane Swonk says the situation is so severe that even deficit hawks want to provide more government support.

The Federal Reserve’s expanded support for the economy As Federal Reserve officials gather remotely to meet this week, Fed watcher Diane Swonk takes a look at the many new programs rolled out to support the economy, well beyond what it offered in 2008-09 during the financial crisis. But the Fed does have limits: It can lend but not spend. Listen for more.

Looking for a reprieve in the government’s paycheck protection program Another four million jobless claims in the past week brings the 5-week total above 26 million. We have never seen jobs disappear so fast. Diane Swonk explains how government loans and grants to employers may help but there are other shoes still to drop.

Unemployment benefits are part of a nationwide rescue effort Billions in federal benefits for businesses forced to close due to the coronavirus and more generous unemployment benefits for their employees have some asking if the aid could be a deterrent to work. Labor economist Diane Swonk says no. Listen to find out why.

Fixing the Small Business Loans Labor economist Diane Swonk explains how the current federal aid to small businesses could result in a temporary surge in employment, followed quickly by corresponding losses two months later. She has policy prescriptions for how to avoid that.

Business closures drive new flood of unemployment claims Labor economist Diane Swonk looks at the new weekly jobless claims, which came in above five million, totaling a stunning 22 million during the last four weeks altogether. She explains what's behind such extraordinary losses and when rehiring may occur, depending on the coronavirus.

Small business loans to help keep companies afloat The federal government is offering loans to small businesses hurt by the coronavirus that will be forgiven if they maintain their payrolls. Labor economist Diane Swonk cautions that many owners don’t know yet how many workers they will need with slow reopening. They will also face new costs for sterilizing premises and wider spacing arrangements to keep workers and customers safe.

COVID-19 unemployment—will loans and grants help? Labor economist Diane Swonk talks about the recent loss of 16 million jobs in just three weeks, all due to the coronavirus shutting down businesses. She hopes that new loans and grants will allow small businesses to keep or rehire their workers. Listen for more.

Housing could drive post Covid-19 recovery Diane Swonk explains how the U.S. housing market is actually poised to accelerate and drive the economy out of recession, once the coronavirus outbreak recedes. That is the one silver lining. Listen for more detail.

Why the economy may ramp up slowly Diane Swonk describes the coronavirus crisis in economic stages, cautioning that a recovery will be slow to ramp up. One big reason is consumer behavior, or a reluctance to resume old habits and congregate after learning to isolate. Listen for more information.

What to watch for as jobless claims double to 6.6 million The number of jobless claims doubled to 6.6 million in one week as the coronavirus outbreak closed down restaurants and many other businesses. Labor Economist Diane Swonk explains that this is still not the peak as would-be filers were unable to get through on swamped telephone lines and state websites. Listen for what to look for in the weeks ahead.

Transition Macroeconomist Diane Swonk explains that the economy will not come roaring back suddenly. She expects to see a transition from shelter-in-place to "normal," pointing to China as an example.

Unemployment spikes, Congress and the Fed respond Trained as a labor economist, Diane Swonk explains how the number of new jobless claims surged above three million in just one week. She also talks about the government actions, from Congress to the Federal Reserve, aimed at mitigating the sudden economic pain from the coronavirus to help us get to the other side.

COVID-19 and the Fed No one is looking at the cherry blossoms on the Tidal Basin or outside the Federal Reserve this Spring since COVID-19 has taken center stage. The Fed is spotlighting urgent measures to keep credit flowing to businesses and consumers as quarantines shut down much of the usual commerce. Diane Swonk, one of the Federal Reserve’s advisors, explains why this access to credit is crucial.

Read the full report: Federal Reserve Throws Kitchen Sink at COVID-19

The COVID-19 Crisis The current recession started on March 1, the first time it’s been possible to pinpoint one so accurately. Diane Swonk warns that the expanding health crisis is mutating into an economic crisis with millions of jobs likely to be lost. She calls for fiscal stimulus from Washington and holds out the hope that low interest rates will help the housing market to drive us out of recession, once the coronavirus recedes. Listen for more.

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