While not entirely sanguine about the recovery of the U.S. economy, Jim Glassman, managing director and head economist for commercial banking at JPMorgan Chase & Co., maintained a fairly reassuring tone during his Zoom-based conference call with members of the Southeast-U.S. Korean Chamber of Commerce on Friday, March 27.
His main concern seemed to be the ability of the country’s businesses, large and small, to keep their employees working or at least engaged until the coronavirus data shows a slowdown in the number of infections.
Supportive of the economic rescue package President Trump was to sign into law later in the day, he was positive about the measures providing direct payments and unemployment insurance to Americans displaced from their jobs. He also favored the provision calling for loans and grants to businesses.
Unlike the economic crisis in 2008 when, he said, banks had participated in many speculative practices, companies in the downturn could feel that the banks this time “have your backs.” A problem that might emerge, however, which he cited, was the amount of red tape that companies and workers may have to cut through to get to the money.
“It’s bound to be a clumsy process with temporary blockages,” he admitted, acknowledging that the country faced an unprecedented situation and that no one was entirely clear how it would be resolved.
Nevertheless, he pointed to positive economic signs of a rebound in China which adopted draconian quarantine measures, and praised South Korea’s “aggressive testing,” enabling crackdowns where the virus seemed to be proliferating quickly.
He considered the relatively low infection rate in Japan due to cultural traits including ingrained practices of social distancing as well as the country’s practices to limit the SARS outbreaks that plagued other Asian countries in the past decade.
The next web-based “COVID-19 Impact” conference is to feature Lt. General In-bum Chun (ret.) who has attended chamber events in years past and is to provide an in-country update on how Korea is dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. This session is to be held at 9:30 a.m. EST on Monday, March 30.
To join a COVID-19 Impact conference, go to the chamber’s website at www.seuskcc.org/covid-19-conferences.html. The meeting links and dial-in details are provided on the site.