Macroeconomic & Geopolitical

Governments Stepped up to the Plate, Grand Slam or a Bunt?

March 2020 – 4 min read
To limit the economic damage, the public sector is taking extraordinary action in many countries. This note reviews the measures announced in Europe and the United States.

In Europe, governments understand the importance of avoiding the fall in demand that is associated with a near-complete lockdown, as it can have a permanent effect on the economy once the epidemic recedes. A number of measures have been deployed:

  • Cash support to households, most often through wage subsidies (including in Germany, Italy, Spain, U.K.), one-off grants (Italy, Poland) and the deferral of mortgage and other payments (France, Italy, Spain).
  • The main instrument for state support to companies is through the provision of public guarantees to companies’ debt in all countries, together with the deferral of tax and social security payments (France, Italy, Spain, U.K.) and direct loans (Germany).
  • Many governments have hinted at the possibility of nationalizations (Italy, France) and recapitalizations (Germany) or a “national shield” to protect firms from foreign takeovers (Spain).
  • Support and investment within the health sector and the rest of the economy (most countries).

In the United States, the Fed had its own “whatever it takes” moment on March 23, taking the unprecedented step of announcing an open-ended QE program that broadens monetary support well beyond Treasury and MBS markets. In an effort to shore up liquidity conditions across credit markets and restore stability to funding and financial markets, the Fed announced several new measures. The facilities are aimed at helping corporates, households and municipalities.

Fiscal stimulus needs to be big, all-encompassing, and happen quickly if the government wants a recovery that resembles a ‘V.’ While the U.S. government has passed two relief bills, these were aimed at preventing the spread of the virus, providing medical and food aid, and strengthening unemployment insurance, rather than providing stimulus to keep the economy afloat. A $1–2 trillion bill is being discussed among lawmakers (Table 2 summarizes these measures), but is being delayed largely due to disagreements surrounding industry-specific relief.

A number of other measures could be added to the final bill that would help alleviate the economic impact of the virus:

  • More money for hospitals
  • Money for state and local governments 
  • Employee retention tax credit
  • Greater oversight for the Corporate Loan Facility
  • Measures to protect individuals from foreclosure, evictions, and forbearance
  • Relief for student loans
  • Greater SNAP funding (some funding was included in the second relief bill passed)

A hefty fiscal stimulus bill will be delivered soon and help aid the U.S. economy from the impact of the pandemic, but it will take longer for the economy to recover if it doesn’t give enough relief to businesses and the unemployed.

Want to read the full article?

View PDF

Agnès Belaisch

Managing Director, Chief European Strategist

Kathryn Asher

Associate Director, Economist

Any forecasts in this material are based upon Barings opinion of the market at the date of preparation and are subject to change without notice, dependent upon many factors. Any prediction, projection or forecast is not necessarily indicative of the future or likely performance. Investment involves risk. The value of any investments and any income generated may go down as well as up and is not guaranteed by Barings or any other person. PAST PERFORMANCE IS NOT NECESSARILY INDICATIVE OF FUTURE RESULTS.

Any investment results, portfolio compositions and or examples set forth in this material are provided for illustrative purposes only and are not indicative of any future investment results, future portfolio composition or investments. The composition, size of, and risks associated with an investment may differ substantially from any examples set forth in this material No representation is made that an investment will be profitable or will not incur losses. Where appropriate, changes in the currency exchange rates may affect the value of investments. Prospective investors should read the offering documents, if applicable, for the details and specific risk factors of any Fund/Strategy discussed in this material.

Barings is the brand name for the worldwide asset management and associated businesses of Barings LLC and its global affiliates. Barings Securities LLC, Barings (U.K.) Limited, Barings Global Advisers Limited, Barings Australia Pty Ltd, Barings Japan Limited, Baring Asset Management Limited, Baring International Investment Limited, Baring Fund Managers Limited, Baring International Fund Managers (Ireland) Limited, Baring Asset Management (Asia) Limited, Baring SICE (Taiwan) Limited, Baring Asset Management Switzerland Sarl, and Baring Asset Management Korea Limited each are affiliated financial service companies owned by Barings LLC (each, individually, an “Affiliate”).

NO OFFER: The material is for informational purposes only and is not an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument or service in any jurisdiction. The material herein was prepared without any consideration of the investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs of anyone who may receive it. This material is not, and must not be treated as, investment advice, an investment recommendation, investment research, or a recommendation about the suitability or appropriateness of any security, commodity, investment, or particular investment strategy, and must not be construed as a projection or prediction.

Unless otherwise mentioned, the views contained in this material are those of Barings. These views are made in good faith in relation to the facts known at the time of preparation and are subject to change without notice. Individual portfolio management teams may hold different views than the views expressed herein and may make different investment decisions for different clients. Parts of this material may be based on information received from sources we believe to be reliable. Although every effort is taken to ensure that the information contained in this material is accurate, Barings makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information.

Any service, security, investment or product outlined in this material may not be suitable for a prospective investor or available in their jurisdiction. Copyright in this material is owned by Barings. Information in this material may be used for your own personal use, but may not be altered, reproduced or distributed without Barings’ consent.