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In statements released this morning about COVID-19, the U.S. Federal Reserve and G7 finance ministers addressed the economic fallout from the outbreak of the virus and reaffirmed their efforts to counter the damage caused by it.
The G7 statement used phrases like “standing ready” and “maintaining the resilience of the financial system,” language meant to impart confidence. But it came as the U.S. Federal Reserve cut the “federal funds rate,” an emergency move that hasn’t happened since the dawn of the financial crisis, and sent markets into a spiral. Fed Chair Jerome Powell then held a press conference about the rate cuts, calling the outbreak a “fluid” situation.
Jessica Rett, a linguist at UCLA, broke down the language used today with “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal. She considered what the central banks were really saying about COVID-19, and why, ultimately, it didn’t make leave the markets feeling very calm.
“If you say something like ‘Everybody stay calm,’ I think the first thing that people think of, if they are calm, is: ‘Oh, goodness, why are you telling me to stay calm?'” Rett said.
Click on the player above to hear the interview.
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