TradeBriefs Editorial

From the Editor's Desk

We Need to Start Tossing Money Out of Helicopters

That whrrrrr sound you hear is the Federal Reserve's money printer firing up. The emergency public-health measures necessary to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus have thrown the economy into an unprecedented recession, one that threatens to become a second Great Depression if the government does not provide enough aid to businesses and families. Forecasters now anticipate that GDP will contract at a 24 percent rate in the second quarter, and that unemployment might swell as high as 41 percent, quadrupling the highest rate during the Great Recession.

The Fed has responded by pushing interest rates to zero, announcing an open-ended asset-buying program, and opening an array of lending facilities to keep markets liquid and calm. It's doing everything it did in the Great Recession, and much faster. For its part, Congress has passed three coronavirus aid bills, the latest worth some $2 trillion. That still might not be enough. The Fed knows it might not be enough. Congress knows it might not be enough.

What might be enough? Helicopter money - a term that comes from a Milton Friedman essay in which the Fed tosses money ... out of a helicopter. Put in a more technical and accurate manner: fiscal-monetary coordination or even outright debt monetization. Put in a manner regular people might understand: Get the central bank to create money and Congress to spend it.

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TradeBriefs Editorial

From the Editor's Desk

Instead of Laying off 20 Percent of His Company, This CEO Made an Unusual Decision. It's a Lesson in Emotional Intelligence

Covid-19 is ravaging the global economy and presenting employers with unprecedented challenges. For Gravity chief executive Dan Price, that challenge was crushing: The company's revenue had essentially been cut in half. Price was faced with a grave decision: Lay off 20% of his employees or go bankrupt.

Price refused to accept either option. Instead, he decided to do something almost unheard of in today's business environment:

He asked his employees what to do.

"As a CEO, I don't believe in top-down decisions," Price said on Twitter. "I spent 40 hours talking with every employee about our finances and asked for ideas."

What followed was a master class in emotional intelligence -- and a major lesson in how to run a business in the face of difficult challenges.

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TradeBriefs Editorial

From the Editor's Desk

Demonstrating corporate purpose in the time of coronavirus

What should a company's purpose be when the purpose of so many, right now, is survival? For years, enlightened executives have sought the sweet spot between their responsibility to maximize profits on behalf of shareholders and their desire to find a purpose across environment, social, and governance (ESG) themes on behalf of a broad range of stakeholders, including customers, employees, and communities. Then COVID-19 came. As businesses large and small shut their doors, and millions retreat to enforced isolation, the magnitude of the coronavirus crisis confronts corporate leaders with the economic challenge of a lifetime. It also demands of them a moment of existential introspection: What defines their company's purpose - its core reason for being and its impact on the world?

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