Jim Zarroli

The coronavirus, we are sometimes told, is a great equalizer, preying on both the elite and the ordinary, the well-heeled and the downtrodden.

"It doesn't care about how rich you are, how famous you are," Madonna assures us in her latest video, sitting naked in bathwater laced with rose petals.

But being rich sure does let you ride out the pandemic in much more pleasant surroundings.

Banks are starting to reel from the financial impact of job losses and business shutdowns across the country from the coronavirus.

Two of the nation's biggest banks reported plummeting profits during the first three months of the year as they sought to prepare for an onslaught of defaults in debt that ranged from credit cards and mortgages to business loans.

Updated at 2:25 p.m. ET

One of the country's largest pork-producing plants closed indefinitely after nearly 300 of its employees tested positive for COVID-19. And the company's CEO warned that the coronavirus pandemic is pushing the nation's meat supply "perilously close" to the edge.

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Updated at 10 a.m. ET

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits shot up again last week, as 6.6 million more people filed initial claims, the Labor Department said Thursday. About 16.8 million have filed in the past three weeks, and analysts expect the numbers to keep rising.

In the prior week, ending March 28, a revised 6.9 million people filed first-time claims.

The United States faces "a bad recession," combined with the kind of financial stress not seen since the global financial crisis of 2008, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon warns.

"The world is confronting one of the greatest health threats of a generation, one that profoundly impacts the global economy and all of its citizens," he wrote in his widely read annual letter to shareholders.

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Over the years, the federal government has spent trillions of dollars more than it brings in, racking up big deficits even in good times, when it ought to be paring debt down.

Now, as it struggles to repair the damage from the coronavirus epidemic, it's getting ready to spend trillions more, pushing up this year's deficit above $3 trillion.

"It's mind-boggling. I never contemplated this," says Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum, who headed the Congressional Budget Office under President George W. Bush.

Updated at 10:51 a.m. ET

A record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week as the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the country. The Labor Department's report for the week ended March 21 was one of the first official indicators of how many people have suddenly been forced out of work nationally.

In the prior report, for the week ended March 14, initial claims totaled 282,000.

Updated at 10:13 a.m. ET

New claims for unemployment benefits climbed to 281,000 last week as the coronavirus pandemic shuttered businesses and left people out of work, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the highest level since Sept. 2, 2017, when they totaled 299,000.

While some states are getting deluged with so many unemployment claims their computers are crashing, President Trump continues to downplay the impact of the coronavirus on the U.S. economy.

Trump dismissed a worst-case scenario described by his Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in which U.S. unemployment could soar as high as 20%.

"We're no way near it," Trump said.

Updated at 4:10 p.m. ET

As odds of a global recession rise, governments and central banks around the world are racing to fend off the economic damage from the spread of the coronavirus.

Updated at 4:22 p.m. ET

An emergency interest-rate cut by the Federal Reserve failed to mollify investors worried about the coronavirus epidemic, and stocks once again plummeted.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 786 points, a drop of 2.94% after an especially volatile trading day.

All the major indexes have lost more than 10% of their value since their all-time highs, moving back into what the market calls a correction.

Updated at 5:40 p.m. ET

Stocks took another steep dive Friday, deepening a multi-day rout fueled by fears about the coronavirus' impact on the global economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 357 points on Friday, capping a week in which the blue chip index fell 3,583 points or 12.4%. The Dow is down 16.3% from its recent peak on Feb. 12.

The S&P 500 stock index lost 11.5% for the week and is now down 14.6% from the all-time high it reached only last week.

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