The challenge facing the United States now is to keep the economy going long enough to prevent irreparable damage to the ecosystem on which a huge share of its activity is built, Neil Irwin reports.
“There are these little land mines across the economic landscape,” said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM, an accounting firm for midsize businesses. “Even if they don’t matter at the macro level, at the local level they can matter a lot.”
Those land mines could hold the national economy back even after a vaccine is widely available.
The Independent Restaurant Coalition argues that widespread restaurant failures are inevitable without a major new federal rescue. That could simultaneously mean vacant former restaurant spaces, unemployed restaurant workers, and restaurant entrepreneurs bankrupted and in no position to start over.
A wave of commercial foreclosures could create closings and other disruptions as new owners seize control of shopping malls, hotels and other properties. The delinquency rate for mortgage securities backed by retail real estate was 14.3 percent in October, up from 4.6 percent a year earlier. The rate for lodging properties was 19.4 percent, up from 1.5 percent. And those delinquencies reflect missed loan payments before the latest surge in virus cases and renewed lockdowns.
State and municipal governments will be forced to reckon with a drop in tax revenue. Projections vary widely by state, but most states expect revenue to fall in the fiscal year ending in 2021, with several projecting 10 percent to 20 percent declines, according to data compiled by the Urban Institute. Without help from the federal government, states and localities would probably need to cut deeper, adding to the 1.3 million job losses since February.
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