Can the US economy reopen by Easter? One Duke economist weighs in on COVID-19 impacts

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The President said Tuesday he'd like to re-open the economy by Easter.

A Duke University economist said the sooner business can return, the more quickly we can return to something approaching normal.

Trump hoping to see US economy reopened by Easter amid coronavirus outbreak

"The single most important factor is how quickly people are able to go out and go shopping and buy things," said Emma Rasiel, professor of economics at Duke.

Dr. Rasiel said much of that will depend on whether we've "smoothed the curve enough" -- that's something medical experts will have to determine, she said.

"Even Italy is starting to turn around at this point so it shouldn't go on that long," she said. "So my panic button on a 1-5 where 5 is the worst is hovering between 1 and 2."

In addition, Dr. Rasiel said she's in favor of any stimulus package that puts money in people's pockets.

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In 2008, the U.S. approach was a stimulus and "our economy recovered reasonably quickly and we've had an 11-year bull market."

She said the European approach was more cautious and "it clearly did not work as well."

It's important, according to Dr. Rasiel, to not look at your 401k and retirement fund right now if you're not close to retirement.

She said the numbers don't mean much until you start taking money out.

"Don't pull all your money out of equities and put money in the bank, which will grow at zero," Dr. Rasiel said.
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