COVID-19

NY Fed’s John Williams on the state of the recovery

Kai Ryssdal and Andie Corban Nov 19, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
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John Williams in 2015, when he was President of the San Francisco Federal Reserve. Rob Kim/Getty Images
COVID-19

NY Fed’s John Williams on the state of the recovery

Kai Ryssdal and Andie Corban Nov 19, 2020
John Williams in 2015, when he was President of the San Francisco Federal Reserve. Rob Kim/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is the Fed’s largest regional bank by assets. Its district includes all of New York State, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut.

“Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal spoke with John Williams, the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, as part of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing’s virtual conference Wednesday. Unlike other regional bank presidents, Williams also has a vote on the Federal Open Market Committee because of his position.

“Fiscal support has been really critically important in 2020,” Williams said, referring to additional unemployment benefits and PPP loans for small businesses. “When that money runs out and some of these programs expire, I think that cuts off some of the support that small businesses and households were getting. That’s going to slow the economy because people won’t have as much money to spend.”

Because the current economic crisis continues to be driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, Williams said he isn’t thinking about it like other recessions. He noted the present challenges as cases continue to rise across the country, but said he’s become more positive in the long run, over the next three years or so.

“We’ve seen our economy rebound more strongly than I expected,” Williams said. “Also, the news on some of the medical breakthroughs is helpful.” Williams expects it will still take a few years until a full recovery.

Research from the New York Fed and other branches has highlighted the way the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on communities of color, including findings that small Black-owned businesses are twice as likely to have shut down than small businesses overall.

When he looks at data on unemployment or policy impacts, Williams said he pays close attention to how different racial groups are affected. “It’s about the deep understanding that it’s not one economy, it’s not thousands of economies, it’s like tens of thousands of economies.”

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Are states ready to roll out COVID-19 vaccines?

Claire Hannan, executive director of the nonprofit Association of Immunization Managers, which represents state health officials, said states have been making good progress in their preparations. And we could have several vaccines pretty soon. But states still need more funding, she said. Hannan doesn’t think a lack of additional funding would hold up distribution initially, but it could cause problems down the road. “It’s really worrisome that Congress may not pass funding or that there’s information circulating saying that states don’t need additional funding,” she said.

How is the service industry dealing with the return of coronavirus restrictions?

Without another round of something like the Paycheck Protection Program, which kept a lot of businesses afloat during the pandemic’s early stages, the outlook is bleak for places like restaurants. Some in the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, only got one week of indoor dining back before cases rose and restrictions went back into effect. Restaurant owners are revamping their business models in an effort to survive while waiting to see if they’ll be able to get more aid.

How are hospitals handling the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases?

As the pandemic surges and more medical professionals themselves are coming down with COVID, nearly 1 in 5 hospitals in the country report having a critical shortage of staff, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. One of the knock-on effects of staff shortages is that people who have other medical needs are being asked to wait.

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