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Fed's Powell: Economy may need vaccine for full recovery

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell Brendan Smialowski AFP/File
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Washington (AFP)

The world's top economy may not see a full recovery without a vaccine to treat COVID-19, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said Sunday.

After more than 30 million jobs were destroyed, as businesses were shuttered nationwide, the central bank chief warned it may take time to return to normal.

"I think you'll see the economy recover steadily through the second half of this year," Powell said in an interview with the CBS news program "60 Minutes," part of which was broadcast Sunday morning.

But "it's going to take a while for us to get back," he said. "It could stretch through the end of next year. We really don't know."

Asked about the need for a vaccine to treat the illness and put a stop to the coronavirus pandemic, Powell stressed the importance of consumers to the economy.

"For the economy to fully recover, people will have to be fully confident and that may have to await the arrival of a vaccine," he said.

The Fed rushed in even before the economic lockdowns were fully in place, slashing the benchmark lending rate and pumping trillions of dollars into the financial system and into lending programs to support corporations, small- and medium-sized business and state and local governments.

But Powell has repeatedly said the economy likely will need more government spending to support workers and businesses to allow the economy to recover, beyond the nearly $3 trillion already approved by Congress.

The crisis "has come on so quickly, and with such force that you really can't put into words the pain people are feeling and the uncertainty they're realizing," he told CBS.

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