Coronavirus, Italy, Nordic Preppers: Your Monday Briefing

Coronavirus, Italy, Nordic Preppers: Your Monday Briefing

(Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the while staying safe at home.

Economists are increasingly worried about the length and severity of a global recession resulting from the coronavirus outbreak. Some 6.6 million people in the U.S. filed new unemployment insurance claims in the latest numbers — nearly 20 times that of a typical week. Melina Delkic, on the Briefings team, spoke with Ron Lieber, The Times’s Your Money columnist.

What do you tell people who are struggling to process all this?

It doesn’t look quite like anything we’ve seen before in our lifetime. Trying to plan or make predictions is really hard — and to tell people to embrace that uncertainty is not really helpful. I think the best thing is to talk to as many people as possible who have the same uncertainty that you do.

Is there any financial housekeeping that people who are not laid off but are worried about the economy should get in order?

The problem is: It’s like if your neighbor’s house is burning down, but the fire hasn’t gotten to your house yet, it’s too late to buy insurance. It’s helpful to have an emergency fund, but trying to start one now may not be much help.

You’ve written in the past couple of months that despite the tumult in the stock market, most people should pretty much sit still. Is that still the case?

All the best economic science tells us that if — and it’s a big “if” — you’re willing to stay invested in stock for decades and decades, if you just sit still more or less, keep putting money in at regular intervals, and sell some stock when stock prices get too high and buy some stock when the prices fall, you will do better and earn more than most professional brokers.

Now, that’s a science-based answer — it’s not quite a behavioral-science-based answer. I recognize that there are people who have never been psychologically tested in this way before.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Isabella

Thank you
To Melissa Clark for the recipe, and to Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at

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