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Coronavirus In Minnesota: Neel Kashkari Speaks On Economic Uncertainty

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Indexes on Wall Street have lost more than 30% of their highest values. On Main Street, thousands of workers are losing paychecks as small businesses close doors.

Beyond the health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country's economy is also feeling the damage; déjà vu of the 2008 financial crisis.

"I have put stuff myself away for retirement and see a drop in things you put away for. And hear of people losing their jobs," said Jeanine Lee, a downtown Minneapolis worker.

"I think we basically have to come together and help each other out. And we will all get through this," said Isabel Castro, another downtown Minneapolis employee.

Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank president Neel Kashkari says uncertainty is still driving economic fears.

"What's different this time is this is more like a natural disaster that's hittiTng the entire U.S. economy at the same time," he said.

Kashkari, who helped put together the TARP bailout in 2008, says the virus is still in charge. If it runs its course quickly like in Japan or South Korea, then the damage will be short lived.

Small businesses, however, are already starting to feel pain. Kashkari suggests extending forgivable loans to help retain furloughed workers.

"If we design a program to keep businesses running and keep workforce intact, we will all be better off," he said.

It took nearly a decade to recover the jobs lost in 2008. But Kashkari has a reminder: "That was devastating for a lot of people, we did get through it and we did rebuild and did end up with a very strong economy, so we will get through this, I am confident of that."

Reassuring words from someone who has been there before.

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