Two of the largest banks are warning that the coronavirus is devastating the US economy.
“We are officially declaring that the economy has fallen into a recession … joining the rest of the world, and it is a deep plunge,” Bank of America U.S. economist Michelle Meyer wrote in a note, according to CNBC. “Jobs will be lost, wealth will be destroyed and confidence depressed.”
Unemployment is projected by 3.5 million in the second quarter, thus doubling the country’s jobless rate to more than 6 percent, according to the report.
CNBC said the Charlotte-based bank’s executive warned of a“collapse” in the second quarter with the nation’s gross national product projected to decline by nearly 1 percent this year.
Also, JPMorgan Chase, the biggest US bank, has dramatically changed its economic forecast for the next year.
“There is no longer doubt that the longest global expansion on record will end this quarter,” Bruce Kasman, the bank’s head of economic research, told clients on Wednesday. “The key outlook issue now is gauging the depth and the duration of the 2020 recession.”
JPMorgan now believes that China’s economy will shrink by 40% compared to the previous quarter between January and March, the biggest contraction recorded over the past 50 years at least. That will reverberate across Asia.
The shock to the United States and Europe, meanwhile, is expected to be concentrated between April and June as daily life grinds to a standstill. The bank thinks US GDP will shrink an annualized rate of 14% in the second quarter, far worse than in the fourth quarter of 2008, which yielded the steepest contraction of the Great Recession.
JPMorgan predicts this will force the US unemployment rate up from 3.5% to 6.25% by the middle of the year, before falling to 5.25% by the end of 2020.
The situation looks even worse in Europe, which is now the epicenter of the pandemic. The eurozone economy is forecast to shrink 22% during the second quarter, while the UK economy is expected to contract 30%.
That’s even with the understanding that stimulus efforts from central banks and governments is building.
The European Central Bank on Wednesday announced a huge new money-printing program. It said it would spend €750 billion ($821 billion) buying government debt and private securities before the end of 2020, and stands ready to do even more if necessary. But even that action has failed to steady stock markets, which fell again in much of Europe in early trading.
JPMorgan still predicts a significant rebound in the second half of the year, but notes that in the current environment, it’s hard to say for sure.
“If a normalization in activity from depressed levels takes hold midyear alongside building policy stimulus, the depth of the current downturn can be seen as a springboard for a strong snapback in growth,” Kasman said. “However, there is a significant risk that the virus outbreak persists and activity remains restricted for a longer time.”
The updated forecasts from the bank — which has global growth contracting 12% in the first quarter and 1.2% for the second quarter, as China gets its economy back on track — is among the most dire published by Wall Street.
It’s a sign of how rapidly the situation is changing, and how investors are still racing to catch up to complete shutdowns in large parts of the world. Earlier this week, Goldman Sachs predicted that US GDP would shrink 5% in the second quarter of the year.