By Martin Crutsinger
The Treasury Department said Monday it will need to borrow a record $2.99 trillion during the current April-June quarter to cover the cost of the government's various pandemic rescue efforts.
This quarter's borrowing will far surpass the Treasury's previous record, $569 billion in October-December 2008 when the government was dealing with the shock waves from that year's financial crisis.
This quarter's extraordinary sum also dwarfs the $1.28 trillion the government borrowed in the bond market for all of 2019.
Treasury said the borrowing is needed to fund the nearly $3 trillion the government has approved for supporting workers and businesses with direct economic payments, the Paycheck Protection Program and other efforts.
In addition, the government needs to borrow to cover the shortfall in revenue that will occur because the Trump administration has delayed the deadline for tax payments this year from April to June.
“Borrowing needs are skyrocketing as Treasury needs cash to fund stimulus measures and to compensate for a plunge in revenues caused by massive job losses,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, an economist at Oxford Economics.
In a stark demonstration of how the government’s financial situation has changed, three months ago before the virus caused widespread shutdowns in the United States, Treasury was projecting that it would be able to pay down $56 billion in debt during the quarter.
Treasury also projected that it will have to borrow an additional $677 billion in the July-September quarter.
The Congressional Budget Office is forecasting that the government will run a record budget deficit of $3.7 trillion this year. CBO is projecting the overall economy will shrink by a record 40% at an annual rate in the current April-June quarter.