Powell says US economy facing heightened uncertainty

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says the outlook for the U.S. economy is “extraordinarily uncertain” and the success of the recovery effort will depend in large part on the country’s ability to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

“A full recovery is unlikely until people are confident that it is safe to re-engage in a broad range of activities,” Powell says in testimony he is scheduled to deliver Tuesday in an appearance with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin before the House Financial Services Committee.

In the testimony released Monday by the Fed, Powell repeats a pledge that the central bank will keep interest rates at the current ultra-low level until it is sure that the economy has weathered the pandemic crisis.

His comments come as some parts of the country are experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases that have prompted governors to backtrack some of their steps to reopen their states’ economies.

Both Powell and Mnuchin were expected to face questions from lawmakers on topics including how much more support Congress will need to provide to bolster the economy.

That question has gained new urgency as the surge in cases in states including California, Texas and Florida have raised concerns about possible setbacks to efforts to rebound from the downturn that was brought on by measures to control the spread of the virus.

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Depending on how you look at it, the economic outlook is getting cloudier or clearer.

The argument for a cloudy economy is easy to make. Multiple times of day we hear about more Americans testing positive for the novel coronavirus. The worldwide number of positive tests exceeds one million. And unfortunately, it will go higher. We just don’t know by how much.

But there are two parts to this ongoing situation. The first is the real-time science experiment as the world attempts to flatten the curve. The other is the very real economic impact. And the numbers of the economic carnage are coming in faster than any significant evidence of a flattening curve.

The number of unemployed now exceeds six million and will only rise. The government is throwing everything including the kitchen sink at the problem. But it’s an experiment in real-time. We won’t know the results for some time.

But even while we wait for a new normal to return, there are ways for you to profit. There are companies that are keeping our economy going now, and have a business model that sets them up well for success after the pandemic is over.

View the “8 Stocks You Can Count On During Any Crisis”.