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VOL. 44 | NO. 14 | Friday, April 3, 2020

Nations flood economies with aid; airlines retreat from NYC

The Associated Press

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The outbreak of the coronavirus has dealt a shock to the global economy with unprecedented speed. Following are developments Monday related to the global economy, the work place and the spread of the virus.

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CENTRAL BANKS AND GOVERNMENT: The White House is considering coronavirus "war bonds" to fund the federal response to the pandemic.

Larry Kudlow, the director of the national economic council, says the federal government, like most Americans, should make the most of low interest rates.

The U.S. government has had little trouble finding people willing to lend it money so far, even without anything branded as "war bonds." It's been able to borrow at interest rates near record lows despite ballooning deficits, as investors around the world look for safe places to park cash.

 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is preparing to announce a 108 trillion yen ($1 trillion) economic package to help the country weather the coronavirus crisis. Abe said Monday he plans to disclose details of the package as early as Tuesday.

Abe is expected to announce a state of emergency Tuesday, at least for cities like Tokyo.

Hungary's prime minister announced a second package of economic measures. Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Monday that the measures would reallocate some 18% to 20% of Hungary's state budget, or as much as around $32 billion, while raising the budget deficit from 1% of GDP to 2.7%.

AIRLINES: New York City is largely an island, and seems more so each day as the number of flights in and out of the metropolis plunge.

American Airlines is suspending more flights at the city's three major airports, JFK, LaGuardia and Newark, in New Jersey.

American said late Sunday that it will run 13 flights daily from the three airports beginning this week, down from an average of 271 flights per day last April.

United Airlines over the weekend reduced its 157 daily flights, to 17. Spirit Airlines has completely cut off service to the city and JetBlue, which is based in New York City, has slashed operations in the city by about 80%.

The Transportation Security Administration screened 32% fewer passengers nationwide Sunday than just a week ago, and 95% fewer than the same day a year ago.

Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, United Airlines and JetBlue applied for a share of the $25 billion in federal grants designed to cover airline payrolls for the next six months. None disclosed the amount they are seeking.

Airbus is suspending production at assembly plants in Germany and the U.S. German plants in Stade are closed until next Saturday, with additional shutdowns in some departments for weeks afterward, and in Bremen until April 27. A plant in Mobile, Alabama, that assembles A220 and A320 passenger jets will close this week and remain shuttered until April 29 although aircraft maintenance work will continue. U.S. rival Boeing announced over the weekend that it was extending a temporary closure of production facilities in Washington state.

The founder of easyJet says the company has enough money only to get through August at best and wants to cancel a 4.5 billion-pound ($5.5 billion) contract with Airbus for what he calls 107 "useless aircraft." EasyJet, which flies predominantly in Europe, has grounded all of its 344 planes.

STEPPING UP: Apple has sourced more than 20 million face masks through its supply chain, CEO Tim Cook said in a video  posted on Twitter.

Apple hopes to quickly expand distribution beyond the U.S. It plans to ship over a million face shields to healthcare workers by the end of the week, and continue to send that many every week going forward, Cook said.

Ford Motor Co. has manufactured and shipped over 1 million clear plastic face shields to hospitals and first responders all over the U.S. The company sent its millionth protective shield to New York City as part of a shipment of more than 30,000 spokeswoman Elizabeth Kraft said.

Hilton and American Express are donating 1 million U.S. hotel rooms to medical workers who need to sleep, relax or isolate from their families. The program, which begins next week and runs through the end of May, will provide free rooms to doctors, nurses, paramedics and others, the companies said Monday. American Express and Hilton are paying for the rooms, which are being provided at or below cost by Hilton franchisees. Hilton will offer the rooms through 10 professional organizations, including the American Hospital Association and the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians.

The lodging industry is being devastated by the pandemic, with conferences, business and leisure travel coming to a standstill.

MARKETS: Stocks jumped  in markets around the world Monday after some of the hardest-hit areas offered sparks of hope that the worst of the coronavirus outbreak may be on the horizon. Crude oil fell, giving up some of its huge gains from the prior week when expectations rose that Saudi Arabia and Russia may cut back on some of their production.

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