The coronavirus pandemic is spreading in Europe, the U.K., Canada, and the U.S. – and economic activity is grinding to a halt in some sectors as discretionary spending and activity have been sharply reduced in favour of basic needs. Real-time indicators of demand such as restaurant patronage, traffic, and cellphone mobility data are all down dramatically on a year-over-year basis across several major regional and local economies.
The market response has been equally sharp. Stocks rose and fell dramatically last week, especially on Thursday when the Dow experienced its largest drop since 1987 and the STOXX® Europe 600 Index experienced its largest drop ever. The bond market experienced dramatic volatility as well, with the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield falling to as low as 0.4% last week.1 Markets appear to be experiencing a lack of confidence in the policy responses in Europe and the U.S., and that seems to be continuing into this week.
One of the questions we have been receiving lately is: What is the appropriate policy response? There’s a lot embedded in that question. In the past, we have written about the importance of a three-pronged policy response to coronavirus: 1) public health policy to contain the virus, 2) monetary measures to ensure financial liquidity and functionality, and 3) fiscal support to contain the real economic damage. Combating the crisis from these three angles remains critical today — here’s how we assess progress in these areas across the globe.