The Federal Reserve has taken an aggressive approach to rescue the stock market and the U.S. economy from the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic in the past two months. Yet, economists and traders argue that the efforts have been lackluster to date.
The absence of local fiscal relief at the state level could leave the stock market vulnerable to another downturn as the economy heads downward with record-high jobless claims and uncertainty around reopening unessential businesses.
The U.S. stock market observed a v-shape recovery since March 23, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed from 18,591 to as high as 24,242 points.
In an interview with Joe Weisenthal on “Bloomberg Markets: What’d You Miss?,” Paul Krugman, Nobel laureate and economics professor at Graduate Center, City University of New York, said the Fed’s weak fiscal policy puts the U.S. economy at risk of a halted recovery.
Despite the strong reaction of the stock market to the two Senate stimulus packages to support both large and small businesses, Krugman emphasized that money is not being funneled across the country.
The economist said :
The response [from the Fed] is two things: it is way insufficient on several fronts and the money is not really flowing. I am very disappointed [in the latest Senate deal] because there is no state and local fiscal relief, and that is a gigantic hole that is opening up. Everyone knows it is there and it is going to be a real impediment to economic recovery.
Krugman further criticized parts of the Senate deal, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), stating that the money went to the wrong people and not small businesses.
Several large profitable businesses such as Shake Shack recently came under fire for receiving a multi-million dollar loan , which it has since returned.
The mismanagement of the PPP and the challenges of the Fed to provide sufficient liquidity throughout the 50 states impose an additional threat to the rebound of the U.S. stock market and economy.
On top of the coronavirus pandemic, geopolitical risks arising from the tension between the Middle East and Russia are fueling uncertainty in the global stock market.
Sven Henrich, the lead market strategist at Northman Trader, said that the abrupt plunge of oil price to sub-zero indicates that the illusion of markets being just “fine” put out by the Fed is simply not the case.
The strategist stated:
The Fed may have provided the illusion that things were fine, but oil served a crude awakening that this is not the case.
The massive volatility across all major assets and commodities, including oil, gold, and stocks suggests that the U.S stock market is far from seeing stability in the near-term.