Mnuchin Says Recession Is A ‘Technical Question’ That’s ‘Not Terribly Relevant’

US Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin attends a meeting to discuss a potential economic bill in response to the coronavirus, COVID-19, in Washington, DC, on March 20, 2019. - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ... US Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin attends a meeting to discuss a potential economic bill in response to the coronavirus, COVID-19, in Washington, DC, on March 20, 2019. - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled on March 19, an economic rescue plan to send $1,200 direct checks to taxpayers, $300 billion for small businesses to keep idled workers on payroll and $208 billion in loans to airlines and other industries. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
March 22, 2020 12:15 p.m.
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Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin denied that the U.S. is currently in a recession amid the coronavirus outbreak during an interview on Fox News Sunday morning.

When Fox News’ John Roberts asked Mnuchin whether we’re in a recession amid the coronavirus outbreak, Mnuchin responded that’s “a technical question” and is “not terribly relevant” in this situation.

“Are we going to have reduced economic activity this quarter? Absolutely,” Mnuchin said. “I think, next quarter, a lot depends on how quickly the curve of the medical situation works. When people focus on recessions, it’s normally because of prolonged economic environment.”

Mnuchin acknowledged how the outbreak is a “very unique situation” and that the government has self-imposed shutting down large parts of the economy, but argued that as soon as the “medical situation is under control,” the economy will be reopened and “bounce back significantly.”

Mnuchin made the remarks on the heels of marathon negotiations between Republicans and Democrats for the $1.5 trillion stimulus legislation to combat the coronavirus outbreak. Previewing the stimulus package, Mnuchin said it will include two weeks of loans to small businesses and an average payment of $3,000 to a family of four.

“The first part are what I call small business retention loans. If you’re a small business, you’ll get two weeks of cash flow to pay your workers. You’ll also get some overhead, and if you do that, your loans will be forgiven,” Mnuchin said. “The second part is direct deposits. The average direct deposit or check for a family of four will be approximately $3,000 — a bridge for them to get through this quickly. The third component is enhanced unemployment. The fourth component is a significant package working with the federal reserve. We’ll have up to $4 trillion to support liquidity that we can use to support the economy.”

When asked how about the timeframe in which the stimulus package is designed to work, Mnuchin said that he hopes the stimulus package gets passed on Monday and that the administration is “looking at anywhere from a 10- to 12-week scenario.”

Mnuchin added that he thinks President Trump expects the situation to “look a lot better four or eight weeks from now” before arguing that “this isn’t the financial crisis that’s going to go on for years.”

Watch Mnuchin’s remarks below:

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