Cramer: We desperately need another round of federal stimulus, despite vaccine progress

Business

Moderna‘s positive vaccine news gave a boost to the travel and restaurant stocks, but the federal government must step in again to shore up the economy, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Wednesday.

“We can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, but, unfortunately, we’re separated from that light by a big chasm, and if we can’t bridge the chasm — look, you’ve got to look out below,” the “Mad Money” host said.

Should everything go right with Moderna, a biotech company using messenger RNA to develop a new class of drugs, and its clinical trials, on top of the multitude of drug makers in the race to discover a Covid-19 vaccine, it will still take months for the remedy to be ready for public use.

A vaccine is a critical piece of the puzzle to return society to some sense of normal after a global coronavirus pandemic disrupted everyday life. But vaccines usually take 10 years to develop and researchers are hoping to achieve that feat in a span of 12 months.

“In the interim, there is only one serious, barely foolproof method to bridge us to a successful vaccine, and that’s stimulus from the federal government,” Cramer said.

His comments come one day after Moderna revealed its potential Covid-19 vaccine produced neutralizing antibodies in dozens of patients as part of an early-stage human trial. The news helped lift the stocks of cruise lines, airlines, restaurants and retailers most severely impacted by the economic lockdown that threw the U.S. economy into recession.

The major averages all continued to climb in Wednesday’s session with the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite all rising less than 1%.

“It makes sense. When we get a vaccine, people can take cruises again. With it, these companies survive. Without it, they could run out of money before they’re even allowed to start sailing again,” Cramer said.

“Not only are people afraid to fly, most other countries have banned [U.S. travelers], so there’s not much point in international flights. I worry the government might need to bail them out, again, [and] take a chunk of equity,” he added.

The U.S. has now approved more than $3 trillion in emergency funds, starting with the $2.2 trillion stimulus package that President Donald Trump signed in March, to combat the economic fallout of the country’s coronavirus response efforts. The spending was largely made up of loans and grants to keep struggling businesses afloat and included funds for local and state governments, stimulus checks for adults and families and additional pay for jobless claims.

Due to widespread layoffs, the U.S. has seen 15 consecutive weeks of initial unemployment claims north of 1 million.

The stopgap measures have helped to prevent economic devastation in some areas. Still, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon on a quarterly call Tuesday said these are “peculiar times.”

“In a normal recession, unemployment goes up, delinquencies go up, charges go up, home prices go down, none of that’s true here” as “savings are up, incomes are up, home prices are up,” he said.

“So, you will see the effect of this recession,” Dimon said. “You’re just not going to see it right away because of all the stimulus and the fact 60% to 70% of the unemployed are making more money than they were making when they were working.”

The bank posted record revenue and better-than-expected profit in the second quarter, which was consumed by the pandemic.

“I’d say it’s a miracle the economy’s holding up this well, but miracles don’t cost $2.2 trillion. However, JP Morgan still had to take some gigantic loan loss charges because of what’s coming: the end of the stimulus,” Cramer said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signaled a day earlier that she is willing to push back Congress’ August recess so that lawmakers can push through another coronavirus relief package. The move comes as new daily cases continue to spike across the country, throwing many states’ reopening plans off course. The Trump administration has also shown interest in rolling out more relief spending to stave off additional damage to the economy.

“The bailout was only meant to last through July,” Cramer said. “We figured we’d have maybe the virus contained in early fall, but we botched the reopening and now states are being forced to shut down again.”

“That’s the chasm: the extra $600 a week in jobless benefits disappears right as a huge chunk of the country closes for business,” he said.

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