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CORONAVIRUS IN THE NEWS: March 16 | 11:22 a.m.


Wall Street dives, S&P 500 sheds $2 trillion in value 
Reuters: S&P 500 companies lost more than $2 trillion in value in the first few minutes of trading today as investors panicked about the mounting damage from the coronavirus pandemic on the global economy. Trading on the three main U.S. stock indexes was halted for 15 minutes at the open, the third such pause in six days, as the benchmark index plunged 8% and triggered an automatic cutout. A sharp cut in interest rates by the Federal Reserve to near-zero only added to the alarm, while traders worried that the pandemic was paralyzing supply chains and squeezing company finances. At midmorning, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 2,326.15 points, or 10.03%, while the S&P 500 was down 263.50 points, or 9.72%.


Federal Reserve cuts rates to zero, launches massive $700B quantitative easing program
CNBC: The Federal Reserve, saying “the coronavirus outbreak has harmed communities and disrupted economic activity in many countries, including the United States,” cut interest rates to essentially zero on Sunday and launched a massive $700 billion quantitative easing program to shelter the economy from the effects of the virus. The new fed funds rate, used as a benchmark both for short-term lending for financial institutions and as a peg to many consumer rates, will now be targeted at 0% to 0.25% down from a previous target range of 1% to 1.25%. Facing highly disrupted financial markets, the Fed also slashed the rate of emergency lending at the discount window for banks by 125 basis points to 0.25%, and lengthened the term of loans to 90 days.

Global airlines face bankruptcy by May if governments don’t intervene, warns consultant
MarketWatch: The escalating coronavirus crisis could bankrupt most of the world’s airlines by the end of May unless they get help from governments and the industry, an aviation consultant has warned. “Demand is drying up in ways that are completely unprecedented,” Sydney-based consulting firm CAPA Centre for Aviation said in a report today. “Coordinated government and industry action is needed — now — if catastrophe is to be avoided, CAPA warned. 

Coronavirus costs to businesses and workers: ‘It has all gone to hell’
New York Times: For weeks, forecasters have warned of the coronavirus’s potential to disrupt the American economy. But there was little hard evidence beyond delayed shipments of goods from China and stomach-churning volatility in financial markets. Now the effects are showing up in downtown night spots and suburban shopping centers from coast to coast.

What’s in Congress’ emergency coronavirus bill? Here’s what you need to know.
NBC News: The House of Representatives passed a sweeping bill early Saturday addressing the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak, aiming to soften the economic blow that many Americans are expected to feel as stores close, people stay home and stock markets plunge. President Donald Trump has said he supports the legislation, and the Senate is expected to pass it sometime this week. 

– Illinois orders all bars and restaurants to close to dine-in customers (Chicago Sun-Times)
– N.Y.C. shuts schools, restaurants and bars as coronavirus spreads (New York Times)
– Pubs asked to close by Irish government (BBC News) 

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