Kenneth Hassett, former chairman of the Council of Economic advisers, is feeling optimistic about the nation’s chances for an economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent economic shutdown.
“I’ve been really positively impressed by how quickly things are turning around,” Hassett, who also serves as a White House economist, recently said in a press conference.
“I was pretty depressed by how bad it looked a few weeks ago,” continued Hassett of the current economy. “But you can really see it turning on faster than I thought.”
In a subsequent interview with CNBC, Hassett remarked: “I think definitely you’re looking at a very strong third quarter, a very strong fourth quarter, and probably a great next year.”
Hassett’s predictions are at odds with other forecasts, including the Washington Post, which is warning that the nation’s unemployment rate could well “remain above 10 percent in 2021, a level unseen since the Great Depression.”
In a new report, The ABCs of the Post-Covid Economic Recovery, the Washington-based Brookings Institute warns that even once the national economy begins to reopen, certain factors will serve to dampen any immediate recovery.
“Travel will be less common, businesses will have to space workers and customers further apart, restaurants will be serving fewer customers at a time, and sporting events, concerts, and other activities involving large crowds will probably remain off limits for a long time,” says the report.
Kenneth Kriz, a University of Illinois economics professor, has noted that only 6 percent of the economic forecasts he has compiled are predicting a swift recovery by the end of this year or early next year.
On the contrary, Kriz notes that up to 40 percent of the economists are forecasting a longer recovery, with the economy not coming fully back until the end of 2021. Another 40 percent are seeing a recovery that could take several years, similar to the pattern seen in the years after the Great Recession.
But Kris, as quoted in the newspaper Muscatine News, added that if there is another pandemic this year, a lot of the current forecasts, “go out the window, and we’ve have to scramble again for solutions.”
By Garry Boulard