It looks more and more likely that the novel form of coronavirus will do meaningful economic damage to the United States. Stock and bond prices already suggest that the outbreak could halt the longest expansion on record and even send the nation into recession.

The risks loom larger because this particular crisis is ill suited to the usual tools the government has to stabilize the economy. If a recession happens, it will probably be a result of this poor fit between the economic effects of the potential pandemic and the mechanisms the government uses to try to keep the economy growing.

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