Despite an initial outbreak in China last month that brought the world's second-largest economy to a virtual halt, an ever-increasing number of countries and territories reported a spike in infections and deaths in March.
Reflecting the wiping of the world's store shelves, indebted companies also scrambled through equity markets to raise dollars, with a global shortage of greenback funds threatening to cripple airlines to supermarkets.
Global central banks have been carrying out unprecedented steps almost daily to avoid the collapse, with most asset markets tanking. Still, some analysts say infinite monetary policy easing may not be enough and fiscal steps are crucial. The latest US effort on that front remains stalled in the Senate as Democrats said it contained too little money for hospitals and not enough limits on funds for big business. Nonetheless, some experts say infinite tightening of monetary policy may not be enough and fiscal measures are crucial. In the Senate, the new U.S. initiative on that front remains stalled because Democrats said it provided too little funding for hospitals and not enough caps on big business funds. Finance and monetary leaders from the world's twenty largest economies decided on Monday to create an action plan to tackle the pandemic that the IMF now expects to cause a global recession but has not offered any details.
Speculation is on the increase that data due on Thursday shows that US unemployment claims have risen by an eye-watering 1 million last week, with estimates of up to 4 million. Goldman Sachs cautioned that in the second quarter the US economy could contract at an annual rate of 24 percent, two-and-a-half times higher than the previous big recession in the post-World War Two era.
Asia also eases monetary conditions around the board, with the Thai central bank planning to join national peers in lowering tariffs. Despite the Bank of Japan running out of ammunition, the pressure is on the government to give households cash payouts as part of a package worth over $276 billion. Australia's Reserve Bank has saturated the economy with almost A$ 65bn. China is now sending planeloads of protective equipment and doctors to Europe, as the crisis in the country where the virus first appeared late last year has started to ease. According to the National Health Commission, the vast majority of China's cases have been in people moving into the country rather than spreading out from society for more than a week. The coronavirus only causes mild to moderate symptoms for most people, such as fever to coughing. But it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, for some older adults and people with chronic health issues. More than 100,000 recovered, mainly in China. A 21-story high-rise in the Chelsea area, in a city where many residents live in buildings with small elevators, posted an alert in the lobby that there should be just one person per elevator, and anyone heading to the laundry room should not use a washing machine next to another in use.